21st century conservative Democrats are similar to liberal Republican counterparts, in that both became political minorities after their respective political parties underwent a major political realignment which began to gain speed in 1964. Prior to 1964, both parties had their liberal, moderate, and conservative wings, each of them influential in both parties; President Franklin D. Roosevelt had proposed a realignment of the parties in the 1940s, though the trends which brought it about did not accelerate until two decades later. During this period, conservative Democrats formed the Democratic half of the conservative coalition. After 1964, the conservative wing assumed a greater presence in the Republican Party, although it did not become the mainstay of the party until the nomination of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The Democratic Party retained its conservative wing through the 1970s with the help of urban machine politics. This political realignment was mostly complete by 1980. After 1980, the Republicans became a mostly right-wing party, with conservative leaders such as Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and Tom DeLay, while the Democrats, while keeping their left wing intact with such Senators as Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, and Paul Sarbanes, grew a substantial moderate wing in the 1990s in place of their old conservative wing, with leaders such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Evan Bayh. In 2008, the Democrats nominated Barack Obama for President; he was the first nominee since 1988 that was not a member of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council. In 2010 midterm elections, many Conservative Democrats lost their seats to the Republicans.
The modern view of a conservative Democrat is a Democrat who is fiscally conservative, with a moderate or conservative foreign policy, but socially liberal, moderate, or conservative. Some members of the left wing of the Democratic Party apply the term "Democrat in name only" to conservative Democrats.
The 1828 presidential election marked the beginning of the Democratic Party as a modern, mass-based political party. The opposition to Andrew Jackson in the Democratic-Republican party splintered off into the short-lived National Republican Party, which later combined with other opponents of Jackson to form the Whig Party. Jackson's supporters dropped the "Republican" part of the name and became known as the Democratic Party. Andrew Jackson is notable as the first U.S. President to be elected from the frontier rather than from the East Coast.
The Democratic Party split along regional lines for the first time in 1860 over slavery. This split between southern and northern factions led to a brand new party in 1854, the Republican Party and its candidate Abraham Lincoln being elected in 1860. The Civil War followed shortly thereafter.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment—abolishing slavery—became part of the Constitution when it was ratified by three-quarters of the states. Despite protests from the Democrats, the Republican Party made banning slavery part of its national platform in 1864. Senator Lyman Trumbull (R-IL) wrote the final version of the text, combining the proposed wordings of several other Republican congressmen.