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The Democratic Party in the United States emerged after the splintering of Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party in the 1820s. Andrew Jackson is sometimes cited as the party's founder. Always more attuned to the needs of those with fewer privileges, the party initially espoused what one might term a conservative ideology. A succession of changes in party rules gradually altered its ideology to what it is today.

Between 1832 and 1860, the Democratic Party was dominant largely because rivals lacked a comparable level of formal organization. The party stood for strict interpretation of the Constitution, states' rights, and limited federal spending. The party was divided on the question of slavery.

The party was so divided that it ran two candidates for the presidency in 1860, a northern one ...

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