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Conclusion: The Constitutional Triumph and Failure of the Democratic Party

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2019

Gerald Leonard
Affiliation:
Boston University
Saul Cornell
Affiliation:
Fordham University, New York
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Summary

The narrative concludes with the creation and entrenchment of the Democratic Party – the world’s first mass political party – by Martin Van Buren and other leaders of the democratic movement. This party would have been anathema to the framers of the Constitution and to nearly all of the ratifiers, both because of the simple fact that it was a permanently organized party and because it stood for a kind of radical democratic control and states’ rights that seemed directly contrary to the foundational principles of the Constitution. But the invention of the mass political party of the democracy and the ascendancy of the Jacksonian Democrats decisively concluded the transformation of a republican, legalist Constitution of enhanced central power into a Constitution of radical democracy, states’ rights, and white supremacy. That new Constitution would have its own complicated history, reaching its nadir in the Dred Scott case, but the Framers’ vision of 1787 was permanently eclipsed.
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Chapter
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The Partisan Republic
Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders' Constitution, 1780s–1830s
, pp. 210 - 224
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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