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Democratic Party

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Democratic Party, one of the 2 major political parties in the United States. Democrats trace their history back to the Democratic Republican Party (1792) of Thomas Jefferson, who favored popular control of the government. Following the presidential inauguration of Andrew Jackson in 1828, the Democratic Party's base was broadened, with representation from the new West as well as the East. Jackson's administration marked the beginning of a period of dominance for the Democrats that only ended with election in 1860 of Abraham Lincoln, the first successful candidate of the new Republican Party. The slavery controversy and the Civil War split the Democratic Party into northern and southern sections and, apart from the success of Woodrow Wilson just before World War I, it was not until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 that the party reemerged with its old vigor. Roosevelt's New Deal transformed the party's traditional policies, introducing broad governmental intervention in the economy and social welfare. This approach was continued on Roosevelt's death in 1945 by Democrat Harry S. Truman, whose Fair Deal measures were, however, largely thwarted by a coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats.

In the 1950s, under Dwight D. Eisenhower's Republican administration, the Democratic Party was led by Adlai E. Stevenson. Although it controlled both houses of Congress, the solidity of the South's adherence to the party began to fracture with the drive for black civil rights. The election of Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960 led to important legislation in this sphere, but also contributed further to the breakup of the traditional alliance between urbanized North, with its many minorities, and the rural, disadvantaged South, which had benefitted from the New Deal policies. On Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson came to power. By 1968 the party was riven with dissent, particularly over policy in Vietnam. In 1968 Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey lost the presidential election to Republican Richard M. Nixon, and in 1972 Humphrey was replaced as leader of the party by George S. McGovern. In 1976 Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected president, but he lost his bid for a second term to Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan defeated Democrat Walter F. Mondale, Carter's vice president, in the 1984 presidential election. In 1986 the Democrats regained control of the Senate, which they had lost to the Republicans in 1980. Democrat Michael S. Dukakis lost the 1988 election to Reagan's vice president, George Bush. Bush was defeated by the Democrate Bill Clinton in 1993. Clinton had to face a Republican majority in the Congres and the Senate from 1994.

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