The Winners and Losers of American Political History in 1 Wild Chart September 09 2014

The greatest visual in the history of ancient documents of may very well be this 1880 Political History chart.


Yes, my thoughts exactly. it's an annotated walkthrough of America's political history for the first century of the republic - from Washington in 1789 up to Garfield's assassination attempt in 1881. It explains who the Whigs were, Federalism vs. Anti-Federalism, the rise of the Democratic party, and all sorts of other fun.

Let's take a look at William Henry Harrison and John Tyler in the 1840's

Out of all those bits and pieces of information, I'd say I was only ever taught Harrison dying one month after getting into office and "fifty-four forty or fight." Beyond that, it's a treasure trove of random historical facts. Who knew imprisonment for debt was abolished in 1841?

The opposition of the annexation of Texas also caught my eye - who wouldn't want a new state? This post on Yahoo answers sums up the reasoning, mostly involving upsetting the balance of slave vs. free states as well as fear of provoking war with Mexico.

Even though winners get to write the history books, my favorite parts of the chart are the highlights of the losing political parties. You can see the Liberty party up above was into abolition of slavery and "human brotherhood," while in 1872 the Temperance party was oddly into lowering postage.

The Temperance party disappeared by the next election and (I'm assuming) got swallowed up by the Prohibition Party, who advocated not just restrictions on alcohol but banning consumption completely. They had another forty years of battle ahead of them until 1920, when America finally took the plunge with the Eighteenth Amendment.

Words aside, if you take a look at the coloring you might notice something a little off...


Republicans are blue and democrats are red!? The modern colors - Republicans as red and democrats as blue - weren't actually established until the 2000 election.

I could keep going forever, but you can snag a full print (for the boardroom or the bedroom!) right over here, or take a peek at a full browsable version on our sister site Handsome Atlas.