Talk:Opposition Party (United States)

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Presentation of congressional delegations?[edit]

I'm thinking at the moment that the significance of the Oppostion party might best be shown be a graphic representing the makeup of the 33rd, 34th and 35th Congresses. --studerby 00:03, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

This article is mostly wrong[edit]

There was not and never has been such a thing as the "Opposition Party" as a formal entity in the United States, and the fact that the Congressional Biographical Directory rather haphazardly calls some anti-Democrats in the 34th Congress "Know Nothings," some "Whigs," some "Republicans," and some "Oppositionists" does not create such a party. It was merely an informal term that those opposed to the Democrats in some states called themselves. I am certainly not aware of any clear line separating the "Opposition" from the Know Nothings - it was mostly a matter of the particular political alliances formed within each state as to what the opposition group called themselves. This article has taken a very vague concept and reified it into an official political party. The fact that the various non-Democrats in the 34th Congress sometimes called themselves simply "the Opposition" indicates, in fact, the lack of any organized political party opposing the Democrats at that point, not the existence of a party called the "Opposition Party". This article should be deleted with prejudice. john k (talk) 18:15, 13 April 2008 (UTC)


Sigh, so I see the article has been kept. If it is to be kept, I think it should only apply to the Southern post-Know Nothing opposition, and not to the period of confusion in 1854-1856. Before 1856, just about everyone would have either considered themselves to be a Whig, a Republican, a Know Nothing, a Free Soiler, or an anti-Nebraska Democrat. It's only during the Buchanan years that one sees the emergence of these "Opposition" parties in the south, which ultimately become the basis of support of the Constitutional Union Party in 1860. If we're to have an article, that's what it should focus on. john k (talk) 13:29, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Baggett (2003, p. 33) says "From the 1856 Whig wreckage emerged Opposition Party spokesmen hoping to coalesce the nation's conservatives...These Whigs championed the so-called Opposition Party (that is, opposition to the Democratic Party), which ran candidates in state elections." McKnight (2006, p. 21) says "The Opposition party, which achieved considerable success just before the war, emerged out of the Whig tradition. When the Whig party died before the 1854 elections, a gaping political void appeared. Hoping to fill it was the American, or Know-Nothing party...The Opposition party became a popular torchbearer of old Whig ideals during the last years of the 1850s...Because of the inevitable sectional sectional alienation, a national Opposition proved proved an impossibility." Richardson (2004, Others: Third-Party Politics from the Nation's Founding to the Rise and Fall of the Greenback-Labor Party, p. 248) wrote "Following the party's demise, a number of ex-Whigs briefly drifted into the Know-Nothing Party. Alienated by that party's nefarious attraction to nativism and angered by the Buchanan administration's attempt to force the Lecompton constitution on Kansas, a number of prominent former Whigs in the South formed a short-lived Opposition Party in the late 1850s."
It's like what you said before the AfD, the current starting time in the article of 1854 is based on government website biographies and/or party division web page, which designates "Oppositions" as the winner of a majority of the 1854 Congressional elections, and not based on the referenced books AFAICT, unless I've overlooked something. Settler (talk) 18:00, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
So I'd suggest we remove the list, and rewrite entirely so as to focus on the pre-war "Opposition" movement in the south. We could list leading figures, like Crittenden, Bell, and so forth, although I imagine it would be largely identical to "southern supporters of Bell and the Constitutional Union Party in 1860." john k (talk) 04:43, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
The Congressional Bio Directory, The Office of the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, and Martis all reference Opposition for the time period in this discussion. Reference some recognized sources and discuss if anyone has a better way to list. Pvmoutside (talk) 00:42, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

"The article should be fixed"[edit]

God, I hate everyone. So, last year I nominated this article for deletion on the basis that it is nonsense that is apparently based almost entirely on the Congressional Biographical Dictionary. There was no consensus for deletion, so it stayed. Many of those who voted to keep did so on a "fix it, don't delete it," basis. I would think that this would imply some commitment to actually improve the article. And yet, here we are, a year and a half later, and the article looks exactly the same, and is just as stupid as it was before. As I said, you know, last year, if this article is to exist, it should talk only about the period after the 1856 election, and only about the southern Whig continuation parties. Those are the only things referred to in reliable sources as the "Opposition Party." Instead, we have an article which turns a list of people in the Congressional Biographical Directory into an article. Ridiculous as ever. john k (talk) 17:26, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

I disagree[edit]

The office of the clerk lists the know-nothings and the opposition party separately, see above. Here is another official record to examine:

-Scroll down and click to view Legislator estimates 1st-11th congresses -once in the data scroll down to the 34th congress, you will note there are party ICPSR codes ( next to each name based on how they identified their individual partisanship in congress. Code 3333 represents Opposition party and code 310 represents American.

Therefore the legislators in congress clearly recognized a distinction between the parties. I could not elaborate as to what it was specifically, but they were indeed different parties. I suspect it has something to do with the American Party's anti-catholic and anti-immigration focus.

The opposition had its largest strong hold in 1855 under the 34th congress where they held 100 seats in the house, so I question how you can request that the article only apply to the time period after 1856?

true, The article is not completely accurate, but that is because the information surrounding the political parties of the time period is muddled and there probably is not a clear or correct description of the Opposition party. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:23, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

The fact that the clerk of the house decided to list "opposition" separately from "know nothing" in the 34th congress, and that various other sources have copied them in this, is evidence of precisely nothing. Certainly it's not evidence of the existence of a distinct "Opposition Party" that comprised the legislators in question. john k (talk) 17:02, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Opposition Party (1) as a Congressional party (2) as a Third Party[edit]

So, both are true.

  • The 34th Congress was so chaotic, scholars have actually adopted a convention to describe the caucus behavior, since the labels do not work in scholarly research, analysis and writing. The point was to oppose Democrats from using Bleeding Kansas to gain another slave state in the Senate by violence.
  • The Opposition Party of the 36th Congress met Martis' analytical criteria for a third party. The point was to oppose Democrats from advancing any number of plans for slavey expansion and party patronage, and well, secession.

I have tried to disambiguate by distinguishing (a) the Congressional party, which functioned in Congress, from (b) the Third Party, which held conventions, and were identified in newspapers as Opposition Party candidates on the ballots. The mish-mash is laid out in a huge table...

The interesting thing is, that William Nathan Harell Smith came within one vote of becoming the 36th Congress.

The third party elected will be mostly Unionists. But they were both Members of US and Confederate Congresses, US and Confederate Governors, US and Confederate Colonels and Generals. In the wikipedia articles, I guess there are 15-16 of the 19 identified as Opposition Party members of Congress in the linked wikipedia articles. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 05:53, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

The article looks much better. Thank you for putting some time into it. john k (talk) 17:04, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

Robo deletion needs editor assist[edit]

The "hotcat" has found 'opposition' equal to 'opposition', and so proposes to delete the article "Opposition Parties".

The point of the article under consideration for eliminiation is to distinguish between 'opposition' meaning "not Democratic" that is, a CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS term for those on the floor who ran as Independent, Anti-know-nothing, Fusion, Anti-Nebraska, Anti-Administration, Whig, Free Soil and Unionist in the 34th and 35th Congress versus "opposition" meaning a THIRD party by the scholarly definition of Martis in the 36th Congress.

The distinction uses the scholarship of Martis rather than listings of indiscriminate term serches of listings. The robo merging of scholarly categories, in the case of 36th Congress' John Gilmer of 5th NC, means that 'opposition' as a third party confounds the biographical directory 1971 "American", the Biographical Directory 1913 "American", Guide to US Elections Opp D, Guide to US elections-oppositiion D, Congressional Globe Am, Tribune Almanac Southern Rights, Speaker vote: Beteler then Etheridge, Opposition(Whig, which Martis takes as a third party movement.

see Martis, Kenneth C., et al., ‘The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989’, Macmillan Publishing Company, NY, 1989, ISBN 0-02-920170-5 p. 32-34, 39, 43, 112, 267, 385-392

Joshua Hill, a southern pro-unionist of Georgia-3 is omitted on the Wiki editor’s listing page. To what encylcopedia purpose are southern pro-union men elected to Congress immediately before the Civil War omitted as opponents of southern Democrats?

Should single-source listing trump scholarship, deleting Wikipedia articles which are based on scholarship?

TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 05:11, 5 December 2010 (UTC)