Andrew Jackson foundered the modern Democratic Party around 1828, which makes it the oldest political party in the world at nearly two centuries old. The party combined economic liberalism and social conservatism and was popular mostly in the rural South.
The Democratic and Republican parties basically started to switch platforms when Theodore Roosevelt ran as a Bull Moose candidate in 1912. Woodrow Wilson was the first fiscally progressive Democrat. Meanwhile, Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted a social liberal platform in the 1930s, which included his New Deal coalition. The party has united with small liberal/regional parties in the US including the Non-partisan League in North Dakota and the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota.
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) has existed for nearly two centuries since the first one was held in Baltimore in 1832. An interesting fact is the party originally had the odd name of “Republican Delegates from the Several States” then later officially became the Democratic Party. Here are some interesting DNC meetings since then:
This was the second DNC and was held just three years after the first one. The convention took place 1.5 years before the 1836 election and the goal was to prevent possible opponents to run against Vice President Martin Van Buren. He had been hand-picked by President Andrew Jackson to be his successor. Van Buren was a member of the Democratic-Republican party from 1799-1825. He was a Democrat from 1825-1848 and from 1852-1862.
This DNC was the first convention that passed a party platform. It included issues like the role of states’ rights and the US Constitution. It also opposed the formation of a national bank and stated the states should decide on the issue of slavery.
The nomination balloting lasted for 2 days and included 49 ballots. It resulted in Franklin Pierce getting the nomination since he promised to run as the Democratic candidate if the votes resulted in a deadlock. Pierce served as president from 1953 to 1957. Pierce was a northern Democrat but thought the nation’s unity was threatened by the abolitionist movement. Pierce is often considered by historians as being one of the worst US Presidents. He angered anti-slavery groups and failed at uniting the North and South, which eventually resulted in the US Civil War.
The convention was 16 days and the longest one in US history. The delegates voted in a total of 100 ballots prior to picking a presidential nominee.
FDR broke tradition by flying to the convention to give an acceptance speech and talk about his “new deal” that included methods to lower unemployment. In the past party nominees usually waited stayed at home until they were told about the party’s nomination.
FDR appeared at the DNC convention. He promoted a change in the rules so nominees only need a simple majority of delegates instead of two-thirds.
The party disagreed about the issue of civil rights. This resulted in the Mississippi delegation as well as part of the Alabama delegation withdrawing from the DNC. This resulted in the delegates selecting their own US presidential candidates after forming the States’ Rights Party with other Southern Democrats.
1964 (Atlantic City)
The convention’s Mississippi delegation only included white delegates. That’s because African-Americans were unable to vote in the southern state. This resulted in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party protesting by sending an integrated delegation. The delegation was offered 2 at-large seats.
The convention included riots outside due to President Lyndon John’s strategy for the Vietnam War as well as the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The convention was also the first one in which state delegations could split their votes for different candidates.
A vote at the 1980 DNC require delegates for candidates they promised to during primaries/caucuses during the first ballot. Sen. Edward Kennedy was running for president and attempted to prevent the passing of the rule. After he failed to block the rule he removed his name as a possible nominee for president.
1984 (San Francisco)
This was the first DNC that included super delegates. They made up around 14% of the ballots and included elected officials and party leaders. Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman on any major party’s ticket. However, the Mondale/Ferraro ticket lost to Reagan/Bush in the general election, which resulted in Reagan’s second term as president.
Sen. Barack Obama became the US’ first African-American presidential nominee from any major political party in the US. He went on to win the general elections in 2008 and 2012.