Third Party System
The Third Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to describe a period in the history of political parties in the United States from 1854 until the mid-1890s that featured profound developments in issues of American nationalism, modernization, and race. This period, the later part of which is often termed the Gilded Age, is defined by its contrast with the eras of the Second Party System and the Fourth Party System.It was dominated by the new Republican Party (also known as the Grand Old Party or GOP), which claimed success in saving the Union, abolishing slavery and enfranchising the freedmen, while adopting many Whiggish modernization programs such as national banks, railroads, high tariffs, homesteads, social spending (such as on greater Civil War veteran pension funding), and aid to land grant colleges. While most elections from 1876 through 1892 were extremely close, the opposition Democrats won only the 1884 and 1892 presidential elections (the Democrats also won the 1876 and 1888 presidential election popular vote, but lost the electoral college vote), though from 1876 to 1892 the party often controlled the United States House of Representatives and from 1879 to 1887 frequently controlled the United States Senate. Democrats were back in control of the Senate at the end of the Third Party System and held the upper chamber for most of the 1890s. Indeed some scholars emphasize that the 1876 election saw a realignment and the collapse of support for Reconstruction. The northern and western states were largely Republican, save for closely balanced New York, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut. After 1876, the Democrats took control of the ""Solid South.""