KC Johnson

Fall 2013: American Political Parties

This course examines American political parties from the First Party System to the current day. Topics will include Jacksonian democracy, the rise and fall of the Whigs, the formation and evolution of the Republican Party, changing voting procedures and norms, the rise and fall of the New Deal coalition, and the effect of race and the Cold War on U.S. politics. The course will conclude by examining what the 2010 election says about the current party system.


My Contact Information:


  • Research Paper (50%)
  • Participation (30%)
  • Supplementary Reading (10%)
  • Study Questions (10%)


September 9: The First Party System

September 16: The Second Party System

Supplementary reading

  • James Young, The Washington Community (Adrianna)
  • Merrill Peterson, The Great Triumvirate (Kristen)
  • Joel Silbey, The American Party Battle (Eric)

September 23: Creating the Republican Party

Supplementary reading:

  • · William Gienapp, Creation of the Republican Party (Ciaran)
  • Michael Holt, Political Crisis of the 1850s (Caleb)

September 30: The Onset of the Gilded Age

Supplementary reading:

  • · Morton Keller, Affairs of State (Jason)
  • · Mark Summers, Rum, Romanism, & Rebellion (Anthony)

October 7: Populism

Supplementary reading:

  • Joe Creech, Righteous Indignation (Chasmo)
  • Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment (Elizabeth)

October 15: Progressivism & the Parties (Tuesday, due to college schedule adjustment)

Supplementary reading:

  • · John Milton Cooper, Warrior and the Priest (Steven)
  • · Robert Wiebe, Search for Order (Miguel)

October 21: No class–research day

October 28: New Deal and Reform Sentiment

Supplementary reading:

  • Colin Gordon, New Deals (Anne)
  • Jason Scott Smith, Building New Deal Liberalism (Charles)

November 4: The Evolution of the Democratic Party

  • Thomas Sugrue, Origins of the Urban Crisis (Kristen, Eric)

Supplementary reading:

November 11: 1964 & The Transformations of the Parties

Supplementary reading:

  • · Dan Carter, Politics of Rage (Rulx)
  • Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant (Jeffrey)

November 18: Beyond New Deal Liberalism

Supplementary reading:

  • Joseph Crespino, In Search of Another Country (Ilya)
  • Matthew Lassiter, The Silent Majority (Benjamin)

November 25: The Onset of Modern Partisanship

Supplementary reading:

  • ·William A. Link, Righteous Warrior (Joseph)
  • Sean Wilentz, The Age of Reagan (Louis)

December 2:  The Contemporary Party System

Supplementary reading:

December 9: Review

Learning objectives for this course include: (1) ability to read and interpret key historical sources, including primary sources, court cases, and congressional debates; (2) ability to determine how important themes in U.S. constitutional history change over time; (3) ability to present key research arguments in writing. Item (1) will occur throughout the course; item (2) will occur throughout the course; item (3) will occur in the final paper.

The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism. Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both. The complete text of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for implementing that policy can be found at this site: http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/policies. If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member MUST report the violation.

In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Director of the Center for Student Disability Services, Ms. Valerie Stewart-Lovell at 718-951-5538. If you have already registered with the Center for Student Disability Services please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation with him/her.

State law regarding non-attendance because of religious beliefs can be found on p. 56 in the Bulletin.

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Kate Ludwig said, on October 27, 2013 at 7.58pm

    Study Questions for Alan Brinkley’s “Voices of Protest”

    1. Do you think Long’s upbringing really catered to his determination to study law? Or was it his knowledge of Louisiana politics that drove him?

    2. How important was patronage in the Long Administration? Was this the reason for much of the backlash that he received from the legislature?

    3. Given Long’s view on race, did African Americans benefit from his creation of low-wage jobs and other political actions?

    4. What were the economic and political factors that made Long dislike Roosevelt? Did he feel Roosevelt was being too conservative for a Democratic president? (For example his plans to redistribute wealth?)

    5. What were the reasons why the “share our wealth” plan, also known as the “Long Plan,” would fail? Were there more economic issues involved with it?

    6. What tool did both Long and Coughlin use to gain the attention of the American public? Was it successful in doing so?

    7. Was it Coughlin’s own personal background growing up and working in Detroit, that caused his sermons to gravitate into political ones? Or were there other economic factors that contributed to this as well?

    8. What caused Coughlin to lose respect for FDR and his “New Deal”?

    9. Do you think there was a political desire Coughlin wanted to explore with his involvement with the radio broadcasts and friendship with FDR? Why or why not? Were there other motives?

    10. What was it that attracted millions of American’s to these two men? Was it their faith in the government, or the fact that they each offered their own ideas on reform and ways to help bring the country out of the Great Depression?

    11. Brinkley makes the argument that “the Long and Coughlin movements may well have been the last effective expressions of the themes of populism.” Do you agree with this statement? And does it fit into the concept of the Populist and Progressive movements that came before them?

    12. Did either or both of these men leave a legacy on American politics, given the turbulent period and how they chose to go against the traditional norms of society?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: