THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY is America's oldest and largest political party and, in terms of history, its most successful. However, the party has been in considerable decline since 1980, perhaps earlier. The party traces its origins to 1792, when Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Alexander Hamilton outlining the philosophical differences between Jefferson and his followers, who came to be known as the anti-Federalists, and the Federalists, who were led intellectually by Hamilton, and in the political sphere, by George Washington.

Although the 1792 presidential election was a nearly unanimous ratification of George Washington's reelection, when Washington stepped aside four years later, the United States had formed two distinct parties, the Federalists and anti-Federalists. The Federalists narrowly held the presidency in the 1796 election, but it would ...

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