The Formation of Political Parties and American History
The advent of the political party system came in the post-George Washington days (after 1787). The two main rivals were the Democratic-Republicans headed by pro-states rights Madison and Jefferson, while the pro-federal government was headed by Hamilton and Adams. There main conflict came over the ordeals on how to run the government (strict vs. loose construction), which could be expected in the newly developed Republic.
It is known that Washington refused to take sides, and while on his death warned against the creation of political parties. His main worries, like lots of others, was the threat of civil war (can easily be seen later), and could lead to another tyrannical government. However after Washingtons death, it can easily be seen that no one took his advice.
The threat of civil war came twice in the 1800-1820 period, mainly because of the hostile nature of both political parties and also because of the slave issue.
In 1814, the Federalists called for the Hartford Convention in response to the War of 1812. The Federalists believed that the War had only negative consequences for the North, while it was used as an excuse to benefit the South. They believed their shipping industries were threatened by bankruptcy due to the Embargo Acts (1800-1810). Many extremist Federalists called for secession of the North from the rest of America, yet it was rejected by enough moderate Federalists, that it would not be passed. This had a negative impact on the Federalists, making them never to win another election and slowly dissolving out of the political realm.
The complications of the Missouri Compromise (1820) foretold of the coming of a future Civil War. With the petitioning of Missouri to become a state in 1819, and the threat of throwing out the balance of free and slave states, the country went through a devastated stage. Luckily, Henry Clay, struck deal to bring in Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state, further carrying on the equal division of free and slave states.
The Civil War can certainly be pointed to the divisions of political parties. The election of 1860 had more than five candidates for presidency, with some parties divided between candidates. The Republicans (a third party at the time) won, with the election of Abraham Lincoln, leading to the formation of the Confederate States of America and the Civil War.
The labor movements of the early 1900s, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the election of 2000, are all modern examples of the huge divisions within the country.
The threat of having the country divided can be seen in instances of multiple party rule and when one dominant party rules without conditions.
Besides the First Amendment, which outlines that people are free to assemble, there is no real Constitutional backing of political parties. Some have interpreted this Amendment to allow for parties, yet some believe this Amendment is applied to only those who wish to petition the government. The latter is more of a less representative form of government while the first interpretation allows for more representation by the people.
In a perfect society people would be able to act individually and think outside of party lines, yet since no one lives a perfect world, the advent of the political party system allows for representation of everyone. To preserve a free, political party democracy, one must not look to gain an upper hand on the other group, but to seek compromises that allows all to be free eliminate the possibility of Tyranny of the Masses.