Democratic Party (in Wisconsin) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Democratic Party in Wisconsin

Democratic Party (in Wisconsin) | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


JFK campaign poster for the 1960 presidential election.

John F. Kennedy Campaign Poster, 1960

Red, white, and blue campaign poster with black and white head shot of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, that reads, "Kennedy For President Leadership For The 60's". View the original source document: WHI 56515

Under Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), the Democratic Party espoused popular government against aristocratic rule, and won all but two presidential elections from 1837 to 1860, when many Democrats also held local office in Wisconsin.

As the Civil War approached, the  national party split apart over slavery, with Southern Democrats led by Jefferson Davis and Northern Democrats by Stephen Douglas. 

For almost a century, the Democratic Party was extremely weak in Wisconsin, with Republicans controlling virtually all offices until 1930, either through the traditional "stalwart" wing or the "progressive" wing of the party.

In 1934 the progressive wing broke off to form the Progressive Party, which lured many potential Democrats.

The Democratic Party was resurrected in Wisconsin after World War II by Gaylord Nelson, William Proxmire, and other modern leaders.

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[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online]