What Is the American Second Party System?

The second party American system refers to the political system in which the two major opposing parties in American government were the Democrats and the Whigs. This system remained in place in America from 1828 to 1854.

From 1828 to 1854, the Republican and Whig parties remained in close competition for control of the nation's government. The Whig party was formed in 1834 by politicians who believed that Andrew Jackson was too domineering a president.

These parties maintained a balance of power throughout this time period. Though each party was stronger than the other in some states, they competed for power in every state except South Carolina. During the existence of the second party system, the Democratic party won three elections, while the Whig party won only two. The two parties maintained a near-balance of seats within Congress.

Originally, the major difference between these two parties was the stance taken on Andrew Jackson's presidency. After 1837, however, the parties developed differing views on many other issues. The close competition between the two parties resulted in a massive spike in voter turnout for elections. The decline of this system was brought about by political issues revolving around slavery extension in the mid-1850s.