First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election

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1796 – First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election

First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election

George Washington had a remarkable presidency in many ways, not the least of which was the fact that he was a genuinely reluctant to be president. The old maxim, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” amazingly did not apply to Washington. In fact, Washington did not want to serve a second term but did so at the urging of the country. And so, his presidency lasted until 1797. Washington had never supported the idea of political parties, and as such, he had never joined one. However, many leaders in America at the time felt that political parties allowed them to voice their opinions more strongly and effectively.

Two of the most famous men in the government at the time were John Adams, who had been Washington’s vice president and was a Federalist, and Thomas Jefferson, Washington’s secretary of state and an Anti-Federalist (or a Republican as they called themselves). Both men firmly believed in the ascendancy, and correctness, of their political party’s belief system. During the election, which ran from November 4 to December 7, 1796, Madison tried to cast Jefferson as anti-government, and Jefferson tried to cast Madison as anti-citizen. This election proved important in the history of America as it set a precedent of the servitude of a candidate to his political party’s ideology. The election itself was fairly bitter, and both sides adopted a “must-win” attitude—something that carried over into modern America.

In the end, John Adams was victorious—he became president while Thomas Jefferson served as his vice president. The election was unique in that it is the only time that a president and vice president came from different political parties.

 

First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election First Political Parties Appear During a Presidential Election

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