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Overview & List of Documents

This collection of documents on political parties continues the Ashbrook Center’s extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes, and institutions in American history and government. The volume begins with James Madison’s commentary on the unavoidable but dangerous nature of parties; it ends with the Supreme Court’s opinion expanding access to legitimate sources of funding for political party activities in Citizens United. It covers not only the developing role of political parties in our constitutional order, but also the specific answers given by various parties to important political questions over the course of our national history. Its documents also explore the leadership structures of political parties and especially the connection between party leadership and the presidency.

  • James Madison, Federalist 10, November 22, 1787
  • James Madison, “Parties,” January 23, 1792
  • James Madison, “A Candid State of Parties,” September 22, 1792
  • Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Philip Mazzei, April 24, 1796
  • President George Washington, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 6, 1796
  • President George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
  • President Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
  • Martin Van Buren, Letter to Thomas Ritchie, January 13, 1827
  • Martin Van Buren, Autobiography, c. 1854
  • Abraham Lincoln, “House Divided” Speech, June 16, 1858
  • Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Henry Pierce and Others, April 6, 1859
  • Republican Party Platform Committee, Republican Party Platform 1860, May 17, 1860
  • (Northern) Democratic Party Platform Committee, Democratic Party Platform 1860 (Douglas Faction), June 18, 1860
  • (Southern) Democratic Party Platform Committee, Democratic Party Platform 1860 (Breckinridge Faction), November 6, 1860
  • Victoria Woodhull, “The Coming Woman,” April 2, 1870
  • Woodrow Wilson, “Wanted — A Party,” September 1, 1886
  • Populist Party Convention, Populist Party Platform 1892, July 4, 1892
  • William Jennings Bryan, “Cross of Gold” Speech, July 9, 1896
  • Robert La Follette, “Peril in the Machine,” February 23, 1897
  • George Washington Plunkitt, Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, 1905
  • Woodrow Wilson, “Party Government in the United States,” 1908
  • Theodore Roosevelt, “The New Nationalism,” September 1, 1910
  • Resolutions Committee, Progressive Party Platform 1912, November 5, 1912
  • William Howard Taft, Popular Government, 1913
  • Party Convention, Platform of the National Woman’s Party, June 1916
  • Resolutions Committee, Progressive Party Platform of 1924, November 4, 1924
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Acceptance Speech, July 2, 1932
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on Primaries, June 24, 1938
  • Resolutions Committee, Platform of the States Rights Democratic Party, August 14, 1948
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Great Society” Speech, May 22, 1964
  • Barry Goldwater, Acceptance Speech, July 16, 1964
  • George Wallace, “Speech at Madison Square Garden,” October 24, 1968
  • McGovern-Fraser Commission Report, September 22, 1971
  • President Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981
  • Republican National Committee, Republican Contract with America, September 27, 1994
  • Platform Committee, Green Party Platform 2000, June 25, 2000
  • Report on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, December 10, 2005
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, January 21, 2010