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The first appearance of parties on the American political scene has been a subject of debate in both history and political science; most scholars have argued that parties did not develop until the nineteenth century. John F. Hoadley challenges that conclusion, arguing convincingly that substantial parties emerged within the first decade after creation of the new government. Examining patterns of roll-call voting in the early congresses, he finds that discernible coalitions existed between 1789 and 1803. These coalitions began to assume the form of parties as early as the Second Congress, and the evidence for their functioning as parties becomes overwhelming by the time of the Jay Treaty debate in 1796.
The distinctive contribution of this study lies in its quantitative analysis of congressional voting. From this analysis emerges a picture, derived from multidimensional scaling, of the rise of voting coalitions. Thus one can clearly see evidence of party formation in Congress as well as the impact of issues and external alliances on these voting coalitions.
Origins of American Political Parties makes a valuable contribution to political science and to history. Political scientists will find that insights into the emergence of the first parties in the United States shed light on the shifts in party alignments in later years and will help them to understand the forces that shaped a nation’s first use of this key political institution. Historians will find here new evidence on the development of a fundamental element in America's early political history.
John F. Hoadley is assistant professor of political science at Duke University. During 1983–1984 he was a congressional fellow, serving as legislative assistant in the office of Representative Barbara B. Kennelly.
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
United States Congress, United States political parties, American political parties
Hoadley, John F., "Origins of American Political Parties: 1789–1803" (1986). American Politics. 20.