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Political Parties
Guide: Origins of U.S. Political Parties

These resources highlight the origins of political parties in the United States. A selection of primary and secondary sources will aid students in exploring the historical background of the political party system, including how the two major parties developed as well as the role that third parties have played in elections. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • A government's structure determines how political parties will form and operate
  • Political parties strongly influence the operation of democratic governments
  • Media, public opinion, and policy are interrelated in a democracy
  • The type of media a public consumes influences their understanding of policy and government action
  • Interest groups can be both an effective citizen tool for expression and, if too powerful, a threat to democracy
  • Voting rules and regulations affect election outcomes
  • Interpreting campaign contributions as free speech allows those with money greater access to lawmakers

Key Questions

  • How did the structure of the American political system lead to the quick development of two major parties in the country?
  • How do party coalitions reflect a variety of viewpoints? What is one key reason it is difficult to maintain a coalition?


  1. Overview: Origins of U.S. Political Parties
  2. Visuals: Origins of U.S. Political Parties (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-The Framers and Parties
  7. Lesson: 2-Parties in the 1700s–1800s
  8. Lesson: 3-Party Machines in the 1800s–1900s
  9. Lesson: 4-Third Parties
  10. Lesson: Closing
  11. Glossary Terms: Progressive Party
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Republican National Convention, first (1854)
  13. Reference Articles: Federalist Party
  14. Reference Articles: Republican Party
  15. Reference Articles: Democratic Party
  16. Reference Articles: Democratic-Republican Party
  17. Reference Articles: Third Party
  18. Reference Articles: Whig Party
  19. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: Now We See through a Glass, Darkly (Puck, 1910)
  20. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: election of 1912, Up to Date (1906)
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Federalist, The, No. 10 (1788)
  22. Political, Government & Court Documents: Whig Party Platform (1852)

MLA Citation

"Origins of U.S. Political Parties." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2156183. Accessed 23 Aug. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2156183

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