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Was Thomas Jefferson the Founder of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?

Anarchist420

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Feb 13, 2010
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Was Thomas Jefferson the founder of the Democratic Party? Or was it Andrew Jackson?

I know that historians call Jefferson a Democrat-Republican, but others say he was the founder of the modern Democratic Party. Also, Jackson was a Democratic-Republican, but he later founded the modern Democratic Party.

The Democratic-Republican split into 2 factions: the National Republicans which became the Neo-Whigs, which then became the Party of Lincoln; and the Old Republicans (of which I am one) which became the modern Democratic Party.

Is it more true to say that Jefferson was not a Democrat but rather they have their roots in his D-R party, or is it more true to say that he outright founded the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party (the original name for the D-Rs was the Republican Party--which drove out the Federalist Party)?

Finally, in your opinion, would Jefferson be ever so slightly closer to a Republican today, or would he be ever so slightly more a Democrat?
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
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We would have to more or less ignore Jefferson's political writings of the time and look at his statements concerning values/ethics. Jeffersonian democracy is not something that any modern party would embrace. However moving Jefferson to modern times, it is possible that he might not embrace it either. Noting the shifts in values in the modern parties there is no gain to be derived in trying to trace party lineages from the 19th century to the 21st.
 

Anarchist420

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Feb 13, 2010
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Thanks for the kind reply:) Anyway, you have a good point in your last sentence. I also think that Jefferson and Hamilton would be singing different tunes in relation to democracy if they were alive today, as Washington and Adams would get at least 90 percent of the popular vote if they ran against Jefferson today.

I'm sure that Hamilton would favor democracy today, and Jefferson would be very much against it.
 

Carmen813

Diamond Member
May 18, 2007
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No.
Honestly, I don't know enough to make an informed opinion. As far as I remember, Jefferson basically favored no government, so I don't think either party fits.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
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Since Washington, we've had 2 major parties. This started with the bitter divide (then) between Jefferson and Adams, forming the two parties.

Later, Adams party went away and was replaced by the Republican party. I'd say Jefferson was the 'father of the Democratic Party'.

One thing that hasn't really gone away is that Adams was the more pro-rich pro-central banking type figure, while Jefferson was the more 'man of the people'.

You can't really trace much back - the country was a highly agrarian society then (90%+) and had few issues in common to our modern society, really.

And frankly, while Jefferson is very popular for some, views on some others like on economics seem widely recognized as problematic.

I think Jefferson was in ways a sort of pseudo-Libertarian - which for me is not a compliment. He was also part populist. Liberals love his rebuking Adams on the right to criticize, though.
 

Bateluer

Lifer
Jun 23, 2001
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I believe most of our founding fathers, Jefferson included, would be disgusted at our current parties today.
 

ProfJohn

Lifer
Jul 28, 2006
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The Republican party did not start until the mid 1800s so he was certainly not a Republican.
 

MovingTarget

Diamond Member
Jun 22, 2003
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I'd say the direct lineage would show that he was a "Democrat", but that label is irrellevant. Any comparison to the modern day parties to their counterparts prior to Roosevelt is useless at best. The parties have changed too much in terms of their constituencies, platforms, contemporary issues, etc.
 
Oct 30, 2004
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Couldn't it be said that Abraham Lincoln was the "father (or at least the step-father) of the Republican Party"?
 

K1052

Lifer
Aug 21, 2003
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I believe most of our founding fathers, Jefferson included, would be disgusted at our current parties today.
Probably, though some of them would probably look past it since the country itself has reached heights unthinkable to even them. Hamilton was really the only one who truly had a vision even close to what the nation would one day become.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
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Jefferson is quoted as saying:

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

And,

" A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. "

Those statements tend to point toward a current Democratic Platform, in my opinion... Notwithstanding the bit about unregulated 'Business'.. I think the philosophy is that; but for the evil of the rich... the poor and the worker would prosper in equal measure with the investor and the rich...
 
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CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
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Jefferson is quoted as saying:

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

And,

" A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. "

Those statements tend to point toward a current Democratic Platform, in my opinion... Notwithstanding the bit about unregulated 'Business'.. I think the philosophy is that; but for the evil of the rich... the poor and the worker would prosper in equal measure with the investor and the rich...
Uhhh... the modern Democrats don't abide by the "hall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned" part of Jefferson's philosophy.



The answer is "neither".
 

LegendKiller

Lifer
Mar 5, 2001
18,256
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Uhhh... the modern Democrats don't abide by the "hall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned" part of Jefferson's philosophy.



The answer is "neither".
Nor did Jefferson. There are numerous examples of his actions and sayings not being congruent.

He nearly bankrupted the country with the LA purchase (while expanding the power of the presidency and government). He also wanted to publicly educate students, also establishing UVA.

What I find humorous is that people attempt to pigeonhole somebody who was far more intelligent and dynamic to fit in any one mold. It is a human downfall to assume that somebody has to tow a single line when it comes down to politics, however, humans crave order and that results in making people fit into a mold.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
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Uhhh... the modern Democrats don't abide by the "shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned" part of Jefferson's philosophy.



The answer is "neither".
Well... Both Jefferson and Madison were staunch anti federalists... I see Hamilton as being quite to the Right (especially as it applied to the Constitution) as well as Adams and Washington... I think Jackson moved the party into a simplified Democratic party which seems quite the same in general principles today... Not that they follow the dogma with any degree of regularity but... Seems I'd call him a Democrat in today's climate.

But, I'm not sure but think, had Burr created his utopia in the West (including Iowa) I might be calling Jefferson a Republican... :) (See US v Burr)
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,873
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Tea Party! ;) Just ask Glenn Beck!
Actually my first thought was Tea Party. But I have to agree with Ironwing and others that Jefferson in the modern world would not necessarily be Jefferson in his own time, so the question probably is not answerable with any expectation of accuracy. Charity for instance in his time was basically food and shelter and a set of clothing once or twice a year, enough to allow one to more or less participate in the day's society and easily provided by one's church. Churches would have a very difficult time providing a modern equivalent (medical care alone would likely bankrupt small churches) so Jefferson might well alter his views on the proper role of government.

And the Louisiana Purchase was bloody brilliant.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
9,993
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Calling Madison anti-federalist is like calling the pope a protestant. Madison was THE federalist.
James Madison?...

Some of the writings suggest as early as 1790 he and Jefferson created the party (Democratic-Republican) to thwart the Federalist (party) moves. So in that context I'd call the Pope a Baptist... Now, after Jefferson's tenure as President or about 1809 I'm not sure what to call Madison... He did write a bunch of the Federalist Papers with Hamilton and Jay... More a Constitutionalist, I'd guess, but still...
 

soundforbjt

Lifer
Feb 15, 2002
16,695
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Actually my first thought was Tea Party. But I have to agree with Ironwing and others that Jefferson in the modern world would not necessarily be Jefferson in his own time, so the question probably is not answerable with any expectation of accuracy. Charity for instance in his time was basically food and shelter and a set of clothing once or twice a year, enough to allow one to more or less participate in the day's society and easily provided by one's church. Churches would have a very difficult time providing a modern equivalent (medical care alone would likely bankrupt small churches) so Jefferson might well alter his views on the proper role of government.

And the Louisiana Purchase was bloody brilliant.
I was joking about the Tea Party, GB always talks about Jefferson (and the founding fathers) on his show all the time and always picks and chooses his (Jefferson's) words or actions that back up Glenn's views. He would never reference anything else that disagreed with his views. His little "history lessons" shows are hilarious and usually contain false facts. A radio dj as a history teacher.....LOL!!!!!!!!!!
 

First

Lifer
Jun 3, 2002
10,518
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He was a Republican party member but both parties are significantly different since mid-19th century. I'd say he was clearly more liberal than conservative, but from what I remember reading about him very middle-of-the-road.
 

Anarchist420

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Feb 13, 2010
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I'd say Jefferson was more paleoconservative than liberal, although just slightly. His views on economics (slashed welfare and warfare spending, paid off a 1/3 of the Federal debt, opposed a central bank), make him more conservative than liberal, as well as his views on secession and immigration (he protested the alien and sedition acts, but he still wasn't pro-birthright citizenship, as he said that being a citizen requires loyalty to your country). He supported the supremacy of the States over the national govt.

He also believed in an absolute right to firearm ownership. No liberal believes in an absolute right to firearm ownership.

Hamilton was the one that was for multiple taxes and more welfare spending than Jefferson. He also supported a central bank making him an economic fascist, which is like more democrats take today than republicans do today. The democrats generally are the pro-rich, pro-central banksters; they just lie about it and say they're the party of the people. The republicans aren't a world of difference, but in general, they care more about the poor and middle class than the democrats do.
 

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