The 15 Presidents of the Democratic Party.

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The Democratic Party is one of the two major political parties in the United States.

It is currently the largest opposition party. Its main competitor, currently the ruling party, is the Republican Party.

The Democratic Party was founded in 1828, making it the oldest (still existing) political party in the world. The Democrats wear the color blue, and in various party logos of regional branches, they use a donkey as a symbol.


Positions

The Democrats are in the political center and are generally in favor of progressive policies. The party has a social liberal character. The party favors narrowing the differences between rich and poor and care for the disabled.

That is why the party favors more government influence in the economy (although the social liberals do not go as far as the Social Democrats). Also, the Democrats believe that combating climate change is important, and they stand up for the rights of people with a migrant background (including by speaking out against racism).

The party also believes that the possibility of having an abortion should exist, favors same-sex marriage, and favors the abolition of the death penalty.

The party also includes more progressive social democrats such as senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA), who would like to move the party a little more to the left and participate in the presidential primaries. Note: Sanders calls himself an “independent” although he caucuses with the Democrats and has sought the Democratic presidential nomination twice.

Some more conservative Democrats are still members of the party because the Democratic Party used to be the main conservative party.

The party became a lot more progressive when it expressed support for the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

The shift towards progressiveness became even more evident when prominent party members (including then-President Barack Obama of Illinois) began to speak out in favor of same-sex marriage between 2013 and 2015. Mayor Pete Buttigieg ran for president in the 2020 primaries.

This made him the first openly gay presidential candidate. Buttigieg was mayor of the city of South Bend, Indiana.


1. Andrew Jackson (1829–1837)

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of America. He reigned between 1829 and 1837. Andrew Jackson succeeded John Quincy Adams and predecessor Martin Van Buren.

Andrew Jackson was one of the founders of the Democratic Party. Jackson was also the first president of this party. His nickname was Old Hickory, an expression in the US to indicate a strong, tough person.

In 1796, Jackson became a member of the Congress of the State of Tennessee. A year later, he became a senator there. Between 1798 and 1804, he was a member of the Supreme Court of the same state.

During the War of 1812, he was a commander. He destroyed the English at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. In 1814 he fought against an Indian tribe who did not want to submit to the Americans.

In 1818 he acquired the state of Florida. In 1821 he became governor of that state, and from 1823 to 1825, he was a senator there. He eventually became president in 1828 and was reelected in 1832.

Jackson made sure that all Native Americans living in the east had to move to the west of the Mississippi.

In 1837 he was succeeded by Martin Van Buren. Finally, Andrew Jackson died of tuberculosis, heart failure, and pulmonary edema on June 8, 1845. Jackson lived to be 78 years old.


2. Martin Van Buren (1837–1841)

Martin Van Buren was America’s eighth president.

Martin Van Buren was the only president whose mother tongue was not English but Dutch. Martin van Buren’s parents were Dutch, so Martin was taught the Dutch language while he was a native American.

Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in New York. His great-great-grandfather came from Buurmalsen in the Netherlands. It emigrated to the US in 1631, then still a colony of England.

His father was both a farmer and a café owner, and his mother already had children from a previous marriage. Van Buren attended the Kinderhook Academy, a public school.

In 1796 he went to New York City, where he studied law. When Van Buren graduated, he became a lawyer and remained so for 25 years. On February 21, 1807, he married Hannah Van Buren.

Buren earned good money as a lawyer and gradually became interested in politics. After 1800 politics in New York was chaotic. Thomas Jefferson had become president, and the Federalists (who were for a cooperative America) had lost power.

This was also very personal to him. The Democratic-Republican Party was divided into three parts. Van Buren was in favor of George Clinton’s play. He joined Clinton with his cousin.

As a result, he entered the New York Senate in 1812 and became a member of that state’s highest court. In 1821 Van Buren became a senator for New York and was very active in the national Senate. After the 1824 presidential election, in which John Quincy Adams was elected president, he joined Andrew Jackson.

Van Buren was instrumental in founding the Democratic Party. In 1828 he became governor of New York but resigned after a few months. He became Secretary of State under President Andrew Jackson. In 1831 he became Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Vice President in 1832.

In 1836 Van Buren became president. However, his presidency was not a success. The US was in crisis, and Van Buren was unable to solve this. He also succeeded popular president Andrew Jackson, which didn’t really help. After four years, he was succeeded by William Henry Harrison.

In 1844, Van Buren lost his third bid for the party nomination at the Democratic convention. Van Buren attempted a comeback in 1848 by running on the Free Soil ticket. He lost to Zachary Taylor (W-Louisiana) and faded into obscurity.


3. James Knox Polk (1845–1849)

James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States from 1845 to 1849.

Polk was born in Pineville, North Carolina. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1825 to 1839 and Governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841. Polk also served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the election of 1844, he was elected the eleventh president of the United States. He was helped in his campaign by Jefferson Davis, who would later become President of the Confederate States of America.

He turned out to be a compelling and energetic driver. He lowered rates (1846), restored the independent treasury system (1846), and settled the border disputes with England over Canada (1846).

Polk was not known for his charisma. He had no humor or other social skills. During his campaign, he worked tirelessly around the country to convince people of his political position.

For this, he was carefully trained by members of the Democratic party. He memorized jokes and adopted a more popular way of speaking. In his campaign, he was portrayed as a man of the people.

His presidency was highly effective. Many historians attribute this to his willingness to defraud his own party members. He promised everyone everything to get his way and then did not go back on those promises.

His effective policy has allowed him to make some important changes, but his successors often overturned these, so his policy is not particularly recognized.

He is often reminded of the Mexican-American War, which many people still regard as unjust today.


4. Franklin Pierce (1853–1857)

Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States from 1853 to 1857.

Franklin Pierce became president in a seemingly quiet time. The United States seemed to have resisted the threat of split, thanks to the Compromise of 1850.

Pierce, a New England native, hoped to avoid a new threat of secession by following Southern advisers’ recommendations. But his strategy, which failed to keep calm, accelerated the breakup of the union.

He proclaimed an era of internal peace and progress and strong policies in relations with other countries in his inaugural address. The United States might need to acquire further assets for its own security, he argued, and would not be held back by “any implied prohibition of evil.”

Pierce had only to lean toward expansion to incite the north’s wrath, who accused him of being the south’s tool in their desire to spread slavery. Therefore, he aroused the fear of this when he pressured the UK to give up its special interest in some of Central America’s coast, and even more so when he tried to persuade Spain to sell Cuba.

But the worst flare-up of the battle was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise, and re-addressed the issue of slavery in the West.

This measure, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, grew out of his desire to promote a railroad from Chicago to California through Nebraska. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, an advocate of a southern transcontinental route, had convinced Pierce to send James Gadsden to Mexico to buy land for a southern railroad. He bought the area that today includes southern Arizona and part of New Mexico for $ 10,000,000.

Douglas’s proposal to mobilize the western areas through which the railway could run caused enormous problems.

Douglas proposed in his laws that the inhabitants of the new areas could decide for themselves the issue of slavery.

As a result, many relocated to Kansas, as Southern and Northern wanted to control the area. Shooting broke out, and “Bleeding Kansas” became the prelude to the American Civil War.

At the end of his term, Pierce could claim a “peaceful situation” in Kansas. But to his disappointment, the Democrats refused to re-nominate him for president, opting to replace him with the less controversial Buchanan. Pierce returned to New Hampshire and left to his successor the oncoming secession storm.


5. James Buchanan (1857–1861)

James Buchanan Jr. was the 15th President of the United States from 1857 to 1861. He was (and is to date) the United States’ only bachelor president.

In the cabinet of President James Knox Polk, he was Secretary of State from 1845 to 1849. He settled disputes with England over Oregon and tried to buy Cuba from Spain.

He has been criticized for failing to take positive action to prevent the country from slipping into a tailspin that ultimately resulted in the American Civil War.

The Democratic Party designated Buchanan as their candidate for president in 1856. During the heated discussion about the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he was in England and remained neutral.

The Democrat defeated Republican candidate John C. Fremont. At the age of 65, he is the third oldest person ever to be elected president of the US. In his inaugural speech, he announced that he did not aspire to a second term because of his age.

When Buchanan took office as president, the discussion around slavery dominated national politics. The Kansas-Nebraska Act provided for the organization of the Kansas and Nebraska Territories.

The inhabitants of the newly formed territories would be free to choose whether or not to introduce slavery. The law also repealed the carefully negotiated 1820 Missouri Compromise that had kept the number of states where slavery was allowed and not allowed.

Buchanan received conflicting reports in March 1857 that federal judges had been removed from office by Mormons in Utah Territory.

His predecessor, President Pierce’s government, had refused to recognize Utah as a state. The wildest rumors were circulating. For example, the Mormons would have openly revolted against the United States. Buchanan sent the army to replace Governor Brigham Young with non-Mormon Alfred Cumming.

Due to the Utah postal contract’s cancellation by the previous government, Young never received notice of his replacement. He, therefore, resisted with arms. Only after Buchanan sent a mediator did Young resign, and peace was signed.

The Republican Party won a majority in both houses in the Congressional election. They blocked many of Buchanan’s proposals, including Cuba’s purchase and plans to increase Central America’s influence. In turn, he vetoed six laws passed by the Republicans.

In March 1860, the House of Representatives established a committee to investigate several offenses that could lead to Buchanan being impeached, such as bribery and blackmail. Although there were indications, the committee was unable to substantiate the suspicions.


6. Andrew Johnson (1865–1869)

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States (1865–69). Before that, in 1865, he served as Vice President under Abraham Lincoln. After his death on April 15, 1865, he became president.

Johnson reigned in the Reconstruction period immediately after the American Civil War, when the southern slave states rejoined the union.

He continued Lincoln’s policies but wanted to re-enter the states with the slave drivers much faster. However, this was structurally opposed by Congress, which was dominated by the Republicans.

Congress first wanted guarantees regarding the civil rights of the black population before they let the states in. He was constantly at odds with Congress. Criticizing Congress only made this worse.

The House of Representatives eventually initiated impeachment proceedings because Johnson had fired Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, in violation of the Constitution.

The procedure did not make it to the Senate with 35 votes in favor and 19 votes to one vote short of a two-thirds majority. Johnson thus lawfully retired at the end of his term on March 4, 1869. He was the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

The second was Bill Clinton in 1998, who also stood in the Senate. A third impeachment proceeding took place in 2020 against Republican President Donald Trump, who was ultimately rejected by the Senate.

A side note to this is the Watergate scandal in 1974. An impeachment was also started against Richard Nixon, but he resigned himself before the first hearings.

Following his presidency, Johnson took part in the Senate (1869) and House of Representatives (1872) elections, which he lost.

He was elected to the Senate on March 4, 1875, and served until his death on July 31, 1875. He died at the age of 66 at his daughter’s home.


7. Stephen Grover Cleveland (1885–1889, 1893–1897)

Stephen Grover Cleveland was an American Democratic Party politician and lawyer and the 22nd and 24th President of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897.

Samuel Tilden initially had the most support within the Democratic Party but declined the honor due to poor health. There was no outspoken favorite. Every candidate had his objections.

Thomas Bayard had spoken out in 1861 for the secession of the southern states, Benjamin Butler was hated in the South for his actions as a Union general during the American Civil War, and Allen Thurman was considered too old.

Cleveland had opponents within Tammany Hall (the New York City political machine), but that didn’t stop him from getting a majority in the second vote at the Democratic Convention. His running mate became Thomas Hendricks of Indiana.

Old charges against Blaine of corruption were revived when letters from his hand surfaced, making the stories seem true. Cleveland actually positioned itself as the anti-corruption candidate. During the campaign, it was revealed that Cleveland had an illegitimate child and financially supported the mother. Cleveland confirmed this story.

Elections seemed to be decided in New York, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Tammany Hall eventually rallied behind Cleveland because the alternative, a Republican president, was always worse.

Blaine had an Irish mother and hoped to have the support of the American-Irish people. Shortly before the election, Republican Samuel Burchard made a speech about the Irish in which he spoke of “rum, Roman and rebellion.” The Democrats took advantage of the incident and spread the verdict among the Irish people of New York.

Cleveland went on to win in all four swing states, including New York, by a difference of 1,200 votes. With that, he acquired 219 electors compared to 182 for Blaine. In absolute votes, the difference was a quarter of a percent in Cleveland’s favor.

The Republicans nominated Benjamin Harrison as their presidential candidate in 1888 and Levi Morton as his running mate. Cleveland’s Vice President Thomas Hendricks, died in 1885.

The Democratic Party pushed Allen Thurman of Ohio as its deputy in the new election. The Republicans mainly attacked Cleveland for his desire to cut import tariffs. In doing so, they won many voters in the northern industrial states. Democrats in New York State were also divided over incumbent Gov. David Hill, causing Cleveland to lose crucial votes.

A statement of support from the British ambassador did not help him either.

In the election four years earlier, gains in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Indiana had been crucial. In 1888 Cleveland lost in Indiana and New York in the latter state by only fifteen thousand votes.

Cleveland received the most votes in total (48.6 percent against Harrison’s 47.8 percent), but he got fewer electors, so the incumbent president still lost the election.

Cleveland’s biggest competitor in the Democratic Party was Senator David Hill. He managed to unite several opponents of the former president, but their support proved insufficient. Cleveland was chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate during the first ballot at the Chicago party convention.

His running mate was Adlai Stevenson. Adlai Stevenson was the grandfather of another Adlai Stevenson, the 1952 and 1956 Democratic presidential nominee.

The General Election was overshadowed by the death of First Lady Caroline Harrison two weeks before going to the polls. Both Harrison and Cleveland stopped their campaigns. Four years earlier, the discussion about tariffs had taken Cleveland many votes.

In the meantime, however, these were so high that many voters had started to think differently about this. Also, many Republicans turned to James Weaver, the candidate of the newly formed Populist Party. Cleveland won the election by a wide margin, both in terms of electoral votes and absolute votes.


8. Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921)

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921.

As a Democratic Party politician, Wilson was the 34th Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. Wilson won the 1912 United States presidential election as a Democratic Party candidate.

He defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919 for his commitment to world peace. He was an advocate of racial segregation.

In 1913, Wilson introduced the Federal Reserve System after a financial crisis. Commercial banks wanted protection, structure, and help in the form of self-regulation.

Wilson wanted the federal government to take control of the capital. A compromise was reached, resulting in a system of twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which the banks in that region would run themselves. In contrast, the seven members of the overarching Board of Governors would be appointed by the president.

Also, the Governors would be given overlapping terms of fourteen years to ensure independence.

Wilson’s tinted voters were disappointed that he continued and expanded the politics of racial segregation. He included segregationists in his cabinet, allowed black civil servants in ministries to be separated from whites, and defended this policy as a rational, scientific way of reducing social friction.

Universal suffrage was one of the topics that Wilson had to deal with during his presidency. Wilson himself was progressive and a supporter of universal suffrage, but he faced strong opposition on this point. Moreover, World War I broke out shortly after his inauguration.


9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933–1945)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt or FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States. He reigned from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, and was a cousin of the earlier (1901–08) President Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt.

The Roosevelts originally came from Zeeland. President Roosevelt probably descended from the Dutchman Claes Martensen van Rosenvelt, who set foot in New York around 1650.

Franklin D. was the running mate of the Democratic candidate Cox in the (lost) presidential election of 1920. A year later, he developed childhood paralysis (polio) so that he would never be able to walk without support.

He did not return to politics until 1929 and was elected president in 1932. His primary task remained in the 1930s to guide the United States through the economic crisis through a political program called the New Deal. In 1940 (in that year he had been reelected for the second time), he had not quite succeeded.

The Second World War was also a turning point in an economic sense. Roosevelt, along with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, was the leader of the Allies.

In February 1945, he was discussing with the other leaders how to proceed with Germany. He was frail; he already had trouble shaking a hand. Roosevelt smoked a lot. On April 12, he died of a stroke. He just missed the end of the war.


10. Harry S. Truman (1945–1953)

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953.

Before that, he served for several months as the 34th US Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt. When the president died as president, Truman took over. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Truman did not have a middle name, only the middle initial “S.” This was not uncommon in southern states, including Missouri. The initial ‘S’ was a compromise between his grandfathers Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young.

In the 1944 presidential election, Harry Truman was elected the 33rd US Vice President. When President Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945, Truman succeeded him in office. His main task at the start of his presidency would be to end World War II.

Trump’s presidency was eventful: he was president during the end of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, the founding of the United Nations, and most of the Korean War.

Truman was an informal president, with many well-known stop words and catchphrases, such as “The buck stops here,” meaning that he was the one who made the decisions and was responsible and should bear responsibility for them. (To pass the buck means to pass the blame, so he meant “blame me” by the buck stops here.)


11. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961–1963)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (better known as John F. Kennedy known as Jack) was the 35th President of the United States. He ruled from 1960 until he was murdered in Dallas in 1963.

Kennedy, who had never tasted anything of executive power, made a few ugly slips in the early 1960s (and his presidency).

He soon faced plans for an invasion of the Cuba by rebels organized by the C.I.A. but lost it because he called off air support at the last minute. Hundreds of men lost their lives. The goal of the mission, to depose Fidel Castro, was therefore not successful.

In 1962, John Kennedy was again in the spotlight in Oval Office, when America, Russia, and Cuba are on the brink of nuclear war. The Soviet Union secretly deployed missiles to Cuba, which America discovered.

Kennedy managed to convince the Soviet leader Khrushchev to remove the missiles from Cuba. He promised to remove American missiles in Italy and Turkey, which were aimed at the Soviet Union.

After World War II, a war broke out in Vietnam between communist North Vietnam, which was aimed at the Soviet Union, and capitalist South Vietnam, which was aimed at the Western world.

When President Kennedy came to power, he not only sent weapons to South Vietnam but later also actual soldiers. His successor Lyndon Johnson and then President Nixon stepped up the battle against many American troops’ efforts, but without a victory.

According to American citizens, the soldiers who were in Vietnam had to return home because so many soldiers were already missing or killed in battle.


12. Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963–1969)

Lyndon Baines Johnson, also known as Lyndon Johnson or LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States and former Vice President under his predecessor President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives as well as a senator.

After the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, a new president had to be appointed immediately. Since the United States Constitution requires the vice president to become president automatically, Johnson was sworn in as the United States’ 36th president.

Johnson won reelection in 1964 and remained president for a second term. Elections started again in 1968, but Johnson’s popularity declined considerably due to the Vietnam War so that few people would vote for him anymore.

However, opponent Richard Nixon promised to end the war. Johnson said he was withdrawing from the reelection. Republican Richard Nixon won the election and succeeded Johnson.


13. James Earl Carter (1977–1981)

James Earl (Jimmy) Carter Jr. (popularly: Jimmy Carter) was the 39th President of the United States for a period of four years (between 1977–1981). Carter was a Democratic politician who often acted as a mediator for warring factions.

Carter was the owner of a peanut plantation and later governor when he ran for president. Nobody knew him yet in “the general public.”

The Americans had had enough of Washington’s politicians after the disastrous Watergate scandal and protracted Vietnam War.

In 2002 Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Carter inherited huge problems from its predecessor. The union was deeply in the red because of the Vietnam War, which had lasted for a long time, while the self-confidence of the population (and confidence in the government) was severely damaged.

There were business problems and the oil industry, which also came to be on Carter’s plate.

Jimmy Carter, opposed to predecessor Richard Nixon’s policies, saw the importance of human rights. Also abroad. Nixon did business with heads of state, who were less concerned with human rights. He did that, especially when it came to a friendly regime.

On the other hand, Carter stopped the US’s support, given the dictator Somoza for years. The post-Somoza government received millions of dollars in aid from Carter.


14. William Jefferson Clinton (1993–2001)

William “Bill” Jefferson Blythe IV Clinton was America’s 42nd President.

Clinton never knew his father, William Jefferson Blythe III, because he died in a car accident three months after Bill was born.

His mother and George Clinton (his stepfather) raised him. He studied law at the University of Oxford (the University of Oxford). As a result, he was governor for 6 years.

Clinton was the first Democrat elected to two consecutive terms since FDR over 50 years earlier. This also put an end to the victories of the Republicans because the Republicans had a president for 12 years in a row.

Bill Clinton won the 1992 election against George H.W. Bush (that’s the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president) and the president who was there then.

When Bill Clinton was in power, America’s economy got better and better, and unemployment declined. People are not sure if this was due to Clinton, but at least it is talked about a lot.


15. Barack Hussein Obama (2009–2017)

Barack Hussein Obama was the 44th President of the United States from January 20, 2009, to January 20, 2017. He is a Democrat. He was also the first “black” American president: there had only been white presidents before him.

Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, at 12:05 pm (local time) in Washington DC. The oath was taken from him by Chief Justice Roberts using the same Bible as at the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

Judge Roberts made a mistake in the oath, pronouncing the word faithfully later than the oath’s text from the Oath. Constitution prescribes.

The correct text is: I will faithfully carry out President of the United States’ office, Rob; Roberts: I will faithfully carry out the office of President of the United States.

Obama, a law professor, noticed the error, faltered for a moment but went after Roberts anyway. To be on the safe side, Obama has sworn in again the next day — in private — by the correct text.

In his early days as president, he issued executive orders to withdraw US troops from Iraq. He ordered the Guantanamo Bay detention center “as soon as possible, but no later than January 2010.” The Guantanamo Bay detention center for captured terrorists in Cuba is still in business in October 2020 over 10 years after Obama promised to close it.

He limited the secrecy given to the presidential administration and changed the Freedom of Information Act’s procedures. He also lifted the ban on federal funding of foreign organizations that facilitate abortion provocateurs, followed in March 2009 by lifting the ban on federal subsidies for embryo-using stem cell research.

Obama was president for two terms. He began his presidency with a Democratic majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate but lost the House in the first by-elections in 2010. In his second by-elections in 2014, he also lost the Senate.

bryan@dijkhuizenmedia.com

bryan@dijkhuizenmedia.com

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