What Happened As A Result Of The Two Party System In The US In The 1830s And 1840s? 


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Beginning in the late 1820s, the emergence of the two party system had a wide ranging impact on the United State's political climate.

The two major parties at the time were the Democratic Party led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party headed by Henry Clay.

The system would lead to a confrontational and divided political system which would become a leading cause for the onset of the American Civil War.

What was the Two Party System?
  • The system was formed due to political leaders needing support from allies to win the presidency - which led to nationwide political coalitions (Parties).
  • Starting in the late 1820s, the system took about 15 years to develop and spread across the country.
  • For the first time in the United State's history, two parties were equal and appeared in every state, contesting every electoral vote and state office.
  • It emerged as the political opponents of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party sought a method to bring about the President's downfall.
  • Crucially, the balance between two political parties meant that each state was vulnerable to divisive regional issues, such as slavery.
What happen as a result of the Two Party System? The main outcome of the system was the establishment of two balanced and opposing national political parties, something which the country was not used to. Before the 1830s and '40s, each Presidential candidate would run their campaign based on their own personal aims and beliefs, and with the help of a limited amount of political allies. After the emergence of the two party system, every vote and office was subject to a bitter battle between the two parties.

  • Politics became increasingly polarised.
  • National issues were hugely divisive.
  • The Civil War (which broke out in 1861) was a direct result of a divisive issue such as slavery consuming the entire nation due to the political system.
  • The system did not allow for a "third way", which limited the ability to compromise politically with opponents. 

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