Be careful when making inferences about a historical political party which shares
the same name as a contemporary party. Such comparisons can be highly deceptive,
as a cautionary tale here instructs.
A rather conventional analysis of the historical evolution of American political
parties is available
here. (It makes at least one major error, in discussing the election of 1860:
Douglas, not Buchanan, faced Breckenridge. And there was also a fourth ticket,
the Constitutional Union Party.) A shorter essay, covering the same ground, is
But an interesting alternative analysis, which emphasizes
ethnic over traditional ideological themes, is offered by Michael
Lind of the New America Foundation think tank (partially led by Jimmy Carter
speechwriter James Fallows)
here. In parts, it echoes
1864 remarks by Georgia's Civil War governor,
Whig-turned Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat
Joseph E. Brown.
US ethnic geography 2000
One large part of that ethnic geography echoes Old World polar alignment:
Norwegians and Finns in the extreme north, Spanish and Africans in the extreme
south, with Germans, Irish, English and "Americans" (richly Scots-Irish)
wedged in the middle. Mr. Fillmore's partisans throughout the nation would
probably regret the presence of many of the voters in today's northeast and
southwest, and "Fire-Eaters,"
more likely to support him than Mr. Buchanan, would surely regret the presence of many
of the voters in today's southeast. But Mr. Fremont's partisans would feel vindicated
by the modern status quo.
A useful map dealing with the ethnic geography
of the United States today (2000) is