Published On: Sep 26 2012 07:46:39 PM EDTUpdated On: Oct 31 2014 01:35:00 PM EDT
The Democratic Party is one of the oldest political parties in the world, older than the Republican Party.
Take a look at the key leaders, dates and policies that make up the history of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party has a long history, existing not only as a political organization but also as a national vision. The late Ron Brown -- former Chairman of the Democratic Party -- wrote, "The common thread of Democratic history, from Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton, has been an abiding faith in the judgment of hardworking American families, and a commitment to helping the excluded, the disenfranchised and the poor strengthen our nation by earning themselves a piece of the American Dream."
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the Federalist Party. In 1798, the "party of the common man" was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party and in 1800 elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States.
Jefferson served two terms and was followed by James Madison in 1808. Madison strengthened America's armed forces -- helping reaffirm American independence by defeating the British in the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson was one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party and organized his supporters to a degree unprecedented in American history. The Jacksonian Democrats created the national convention process, the party platform and reunified the Democratic Party with Jackson's victories in 1828 and 1832. The Party held its first National Convention in 1832 and nominated President Jackson for his second term. In 1844, the National Convention simplified the Party's name to the Democratic Party.
In 1848, the National Convention established the Democratic National Committee, now the longest running political organization in the world. The Convention charged the DNC with the responsibility of promoting "the Democratic cause" between the conventions and preparing for the next convention.
In 1912, Woodrow Wilson became the first Democratic president of the 20th Century. Wilson led the country through World War I, fought for the League of Nations, established the Federal Reserve Board, and passed the first labor and child welfare laws.
A generation later, Franklin Roosevelt was elected president running on the promise of a New Deal. Roosevelt pulled America out of the Depression by looking beyond the Democratic base and energizing citizens around the belief that their government could actively assist them in times of need. The Civilian Conservation Corps, the WPA and Social Security all brought Americans into the system and strengthened the nation.
With the election of Harry Truman, Democrats began the fight to bring down the final barriers of race and gender. Truman integrated the military and oversaw the reconstruction of Europe by establishing the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Truman's leadership paved the way for civil rights leaders who followed.
In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy challenged an optimistic nation to build on its great history. Kennedy proclaimed a New Frontier and dared Americans to put a man on the moon, created the Peace Corps, and negotiated a treaty banning atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
In 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd president of the United States after 12 years of Republican presidents. Clinton ran on the promise of a new covenant for America's working families. During his administration, the United States experienced its longest period of economic expansion in peacetime history to that point. The Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 -- passed by both the House and Senate without a single Republican vote -- led to budget surpluses, a rarity in recent decades.
When Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a "jackass" for his populist views and his slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson, however, picked up on their name calling and turned it to his own advantage by using the donkey on his campaign posters. During his presidency, the donkey was used to represent Jackson's stubbornness. Years later, Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, is credited with getting the donkey widely accepted as the Democratic party's symbol.
To read more about the Democratic Party's history, go to Democrats.org.