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With roots in Europe and Great Britain, American political cartooning has reflected the political and social moods of the nation. The topical nature and hurried quality of drawings created quickly and inexpensively as propaganda in the heat of a political crisis have led to their being dismissed as ephemera. Although early editorial cartoons or drawings by the most famous cartoonists have been collected and celebrated, research into late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century editorial cartooning has only recently become a legitimate concern for scholars and collectors.
In the United States political parties provide a variety of functions, such as organizing campaigns and providing the leadership apparatus for legislatures. The nation has a history of organized political parties that goes back to the 1790s. Although there have been periods of one-party domination, one of the core features of American politics has been the almost continuous perpetuation of a strong two-party system. This phenomenon is the result of both the nation's unique history and its innovative system of government.
The history of the United States has been marked by the continued tension between the federal government and the states. Fear of tyranny prevented the establishment of a strong central government. Instead the political leaders of the early United States experimented first with a confederation and then established the present federal system. Under the Constitution, the main basis for states' rights became the Tenth Amendment, which reserved those powers not granted to the national government for the states (or the people, in the Ninth).