Conspectus of American Politics, 1880

This ambitious chart presents U.S. political history on a single page. Moving from left to right, a timeline of parties, policies, persons, and events courses like a river through graphic space marked in four-year intervals. The analogy between politics and springs and rivulets (that jump and rejoin their banks) is the most conspicuous feature of the timeline. The parties appear in different colors. The ascendance of a party is gauged as its stream rises above the centerline, and above the streams of other parties. The thickness of a stream indicates the party’s strength.
The diagram is meant to dramatize U.S. political history in a more accessible shape for educators and to offer a ready reference for scholars, statisticians, and statesmen. The chart itself, titled “Diagram of the Rise and Fall of American Political Parties, from 1789 to 1880, inclusive,” is from the Conspectus of the History of Political Parties and the Federal Government, by Walter R. Houghton, 1880.
Date made
associated person
Houghton, Walter R
associated institution
Indiana University
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
blue, gold. red (overall color)
overall open: 13 1/2 in x 36 in; 34.29 cm x 91.44 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Ralph E. Becker
Political Parties
See more items in
Political History: Political History, Campaign Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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