The Democratic Party traces its origin to the Democratic-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1793. The Democratic Party itself was formed from a faction[?] of the Democratic-Republicans, led by Andrew Jackson. Following his defeat in the election of 1824 despite having a majority of the popular vote[?], Andrew Jackson set about building a political coalition strong enough to defeat John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. The coalition that he built was the foundation of the subsequent Democratic party.
In the 1850s, following the disintegration of the Whig Party, the southern wing of the Democratic Party became increasingly associated with the continuation and expansion of slavery, in opposition of the newly formed Republican Party. Democrats in the northern states opposed this new trend, and at the 1860 nominating convention the party split and nominated two candidates (see U.S. presidential election, 1860). As a result, the Democrats went down in defeat - part of the chain of events leading up to the Civil War. After the war, the Democrats were a shattered party, but eventually gathered enough support to elect reform candidate Grover Cleveland to two terms in the presidency.
in 1896 the Democrats chose William Jennings Bryan over Cleveland as their candidate, who then lost to William McKinley. The Democrats did not regain the presidency until Woodrow Wilson guided it to a Progressive platform in 1912. The Republicans again took the lead in 1920 by championing laissez-faire regulatory policies. The stock market crash in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression set the stage for a more interventionist government and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) won a landslide election in 1932, campaigning on a platform of "relief, recovery, and reform".
FDR's New Deal programs focused on job-creation through public works[?] projects as well as on social welfare programs such as Social Security. The political coalition of labor unions, minorities, liberals, and southern whites (the New Deal Coalition) allowed the Democrats to control the government for much of the next 30 years, until the issue of civil rights divided conservative southern whites from the rest of the party (see Dixiecrat).
The political pendulum swung away from the Democrats with the election of Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1980. By 1980 the country was ready for a change in political vision after a decade of poor economic performance and several embarrassments abroad including the Vietnam War and the Iranian hostage crisis[?] at the end of the Carter presidency. Riding on Reagan's coattails, the Republican Party successfully positioned itself as the party of national strength, gaining 34 seats in the House and gaining control of the Senate for the first time since 1955.
In the 1990s the Democratic Party re-invigorated itself by providing a successful roadmap[?] to economic growth. Led by Bill Clinton, the Democrats championed a balanced federal budget and job growth[?] through a strong economy. Labor unions, which had been steadily losing membership since the 1960s, found they had also lost political clout inside the Democratic Party: Clinton enacted the NAFTA free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico over the strong objection of the unions.
On January 15, 1870 a political cartoon appearing in Harper's Weekly[?] titled "A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" by Thomas Nast, for the first time symbolized the Democratic Party with a donkey. Since then, the donkey has been widely used a symbol of the party, though unlike the Republican elephant, the donkey has never been officially adopted as the party's logo.
Democratic Party Presidents: