Democratic Party History
The late Ron Brown — former Chairman of the Democratic Party — put it best when he wrote, “The common thread of Democratic history, from Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton, has been an abiding faith in the judgment of hardworking American families, and a commitment to helping the excluded, the disenfranchised and the poor strengthen our nation by earning themselves a piece of the American Dream. We remember that this great land was sculpted by immigrants and slaves, their children and grandchildren.”
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the “party of the common man” was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party and in 1800 elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States. Jefferson served two distinguished terms and was followed by James Madison in 1808. Madison strengthened America’s armed forces — helping reaffirm American independence by defeating the British in the War of 1812. James Monroe was elected president in 1816 and led the nation through a time commonly known as “The Era of Good Feeling” in which Democratic-Republicans served with little opposition.
The election of John Quincy Adams in 1824 was highly contested and led to a four-way split among Democratic-Republicans. A result of the split was the emergence of Andrew Jackson as a national leader. The war hero, generally considered — along with Jefferson — one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party, organized his supporters to a degree unprecedented in American history. The Jacksonian Democrats created the national convention process, the party platform, and reunified the Democratic Party with Jackson’s victories in 1828 and 1832. The Party held its first National Convention in 1832 and nominated President Jackson for his second term. In 1844, the National Convention simplified the Party’s name to the Democratic Party.
The Maryland Democratic Party
The Maryland Democratic Party is among the oldest, continuous existing political organizations in the world. It was on May 21, 1827, that a meeting of Andrew Jackson supporters organized a political structure in the State designed to help one of the national founders of our Party win the Presidency after he was denied victory in 1824 despite receiving the most total votes for his electors. (Similar to the disturbing electoral tragedy of 2000.) The first meeting of the Democratic (Jackson) Central Committee was held at the Atheneum in Baltimore City, located on the southwest corner of St. Paul and Lexington Streets.
Twelve delegates from each county and six delegates from Baltimore City were invited to attend. The label “Central Committee” was adopted along with a “Committee of Correspondence” which functioned like our present Executive Committee. Thomas M. Forman, Cecil County, was chosen to preside with William M. Beall, Frederick County, appointed Secretary and John S. Brooke, Prince George’s County, appointed as Assistant Secretary. In addition to our historic founding, Maryland Democrats can boast about Baltimore being the birthplace of the National Political Convention and hosting the first six Democratic National Conventions from 1832 to 1852. On May 31, 1838, Maryland Democrats gathered in a state party convention to nominate William Grason for Governor. He became the first popularly elected Governor in Maryland with the help of central committees throughout the state.
After the ratification of the Suffrage Amendment in 1920, the Democratic State Central Committee added an equal number of women to its membership, a practice still embodied in National Party Rules and in the elections for Cecil County Democratic State Central Committee. From these historic beginnings, the Maryland Democratic Party has held statewide meetings throughout every era of national and state politics. This longevity, coupled with the storied and sterling participation of many Maryland political leaders, is a source of strength for the Maryland Democratic Party at all levels of political activity.
From 1827 through 2012, the Democratic State Central Committee has performed the traditional political functions relating to appointments, fundraising and campaigning with distinction and virtually unparalleled success.