When Did Left and Right Politics Come to the USA?

A brief history of how left and right politics came to be in the United States of America.

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Origins of left and right politics

Although there is some disagreement about when left and right politics first came to the United States, most people agree that the terms originated in the 18th century during the French Revolution. At that time, those who supported the monarchy and the established church were referred to as the “right,” while those who supported the Revolution and more democratic principles were referred to as the “left.”

18th century France

One of the first times the words “left” and “right” were used to describe political affiliation was in late 18th century France. The Estates-General, a French legislative body, was convened in 1789 to deal with the nation’s financial crisis. The legislative body was divided into three sections—the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. Those who sat on the left side of the room generally represented the commoners, while those on the right represented the clergy and nobility.

19th century Europe

The words “left” and “right” were first used during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the right and supporters of the revolution to the left. The divide in French politics became especially apparent during the Reign of Terror, when those associated with the left were more likely to support the killings that were taking place, while those associated with the right were more likely to oppose them.

The American Revolution

The American Revolution was a time when the thirteen American colonies revolted against the British Empire. This was the first time that the left and right political ideology came to the United States of America.

The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies of British America declared themselves to be independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire. This holiday is now known as Independence Day. The Continental Congress had been meeting in Philadelphia since May 10 of that year, and on July 2, they voted in favor of independence from Britain. Two days later, they adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

The Constitution

The Constitution of the United States was ratified on September 17, 1787, and its first principles took effect on March 4, 1789. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States. It creates a strong central government with clear limits on its power while protecting the basic rights of all Americans.

The Constitution was written by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The delegates were chosen by the state legislatures to represent the people of their states. They were not chosen to represent any particular political point of view.

The Constitution is divided into three parts:
-The Preamble sets forth the general principles of the government.
-Article I establishes the Legislature, including Congress.
-Article II establishes the Executive Branch and the Presidency.
-Article III establishes the Judiciary Branch and the Federal court system

The Civil War

The American Civil War (1861-1865) was a conflict between the United States of America (USA) and the Confederate States of America (CSA) over the issue of slavery. The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It changed the legal status of more than 3.5 million enslaved people in the designated areas of the South from slave to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, they were considered free. The Proclamation was issued as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States.


The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a conflict between the United States of America (USA) and the Confederate States of America (CSA) over the issue of slavery. Eleven southern slave states declared their secession from the USA and formed the CSA. Led by President Abraham Lincoln, the Union fought to preserve the country as one nation against the CSA’s attempt to establish an independent country composed of 11 slave states. The Union eventually prevailed, and in 1865 the CSA collapsed and slavery was abolished everywhere in the nation.

Reconstruction was a period from 1865 to 1877, when the government aimed to rebuild the South after the war and ensure civil rights for African Americans. Reconstruction involved strengthening state governments in the South, as well as authorizing Congress to enforce civil rights laws through military action if necessary. The period ended with the disputed election of 1876, which was decided in favor of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes onthe condition that he withdraw federal troops from South Carolina and Louisiana, effectively ending Reconstruction.

African Americans made significant gains during Reconstruction, especially in politics. Although short-lived, Reconstruction helped lay the groundwork for later progress towards racial equality in America.

The New Deal

The terms “left” and “right” politics originated in the 18th century during the French Revolution. The people who supported the revolution were known as the left, while those who opposed it were known as the right. In the United States, the left-right political divide can be traced back to the New Deal.

The Great Depression

In the summer of 1929, America’s economy crashed—wiping out 40 percent of the New York Stock Exchange’s value and impoverishing millions of Americans. The Great Depression had begun.

For the next four years, America’s unemployed workers flocked to soup kitchens, buried their savings in sewing kits and roamed the streets in search of any job they could find. In 1932, at the depth of the Depression, one American worker in every four was unemployed.

In an effort to restore investor confidence, President Herbert Hoover called for a series of voluntary measures—encouraging businesses not to reduce wages, asking banks not to call in loans and calling on Americans to balanced their budgets. But these voluntary measures failed to halt the downward spiral.

As conditions worsened, Hoover came under increasing criticism from those who believed that government intervention was necessary to fix the economy. Among these critics was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who defeated Hoover in the 1932 election.

Roosevelt entered office promising a “New Deal” for the American people—a series of government programs designed to provide relief for the unemployed, recovery for the economy and reform of the financial system. Over the next several years, Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives put millions of Americans back to work and helped stabilize the economy.

The New Deal programs

The New Deal program put into effect by Franklin D. Roosevelt was the most expansive government economic intervention in American history. It was, however, not without its critics, who argued that the programs were ineffective and favored the rich over the poor. The New Deal included numerous programs and agencies, many of which are still in existence today, such as the Social Security Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The most controversial aspects of the New Deal were the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which were eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The Civil Rights Movement

The United States is a country that is divided into two main political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Democratic Party is considered to be the more liberal of the two and the Republican Party is considered to be the more conservative of the two.


Segregation is the practice of keeping people who are racially or ethnically different from one another separate from one another. Segregation can happen in many places, including schools, transportation systems, neighborhoods, and even parks.

In the United States,Segregation was made illegal by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which said that all Americans were to be treated equally regardless of their race or ethnicity. This law ended segregation in public places like schools, buses, and restaurants.

However, even though segregation is now illegal in the United States, there are still some areas where it occurs. This is because it can be difficult to change people’s attitudes and habits.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and US labor law that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and establishes procedures to enforce desegregation of schools and employment. The act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964, at the White House.


In conclusion, the origins of left and right politics in the USA are complex and varied. However, it is clear that these two ideologies have been present in American politics since the country’s founding. While the exact details of the origins of left and right politics in the USA may be contested, there is no doubt that these two ideologies have played a major role in shaping American politics.

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