A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 07, 2010
Democrat Party or Democratic Party (usage)

“Democrat party” is a name used by many Republicans to describe what Democrats themselves call the “Democratic party.” The Republican reasoning is that there are “Democrats” and no one goes by the name “Democratic.”
The first use of “Democrat party” cannot be determined because the name was used frequently in the 19th century. William Safire claimed that Harold Stassen, the 1940 campaign manager for Wendell Wilkie, popularized the term during that campaign. Geoff Nunberg (see the 2004 Language Log citation below) found a 1923 cite for ‘Democrat party.”
Republican national chairman Leonard Hall was one of many Republicans to use “Democrat party” from 1952-1956; Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy used “Democrat party” in the April-June 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. The “Democrat party” usage became a popular internet topic in the 2000s. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh regularly uses “Democrat party,” claiming that there’s nothing “democratic” about them.
The issue is further complicated because neither “Democrat party” nor “Democratic party” has been trademarked—the names were used by Thomas Jefferson and others throughout history. However, the names Democratic National Convention, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are all active trademarks. The name “Democratic National Committee” is not trademarked, but even Leonard Hall conceded that name in 1953.
Most Democrats consider “Democrat party” to be a slur.
Wikipedia: Democrat Party (phrase)
“Democrat Party” is a political epithet used in the United States instead of “Democratic Party” when talking about the Democratic Party. The term has been used by conservative commentators and members of the Republican Party in party platforms, partisan speeches and press releases since 1940.
Multiple reasons are suggested for the use of the term. A 1984 New York Times article suggested Republican’s began to use the term when Democrats used their own party name to infer “they are the only true adherents of democracy.” Republicans “feared that ‘Democratic’ suggested Democrats [had] a monopoly on or are somehow the anointed custodians of the concept of democracy.” New Yorker commentator Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in 2006 that the term “is a slur intended to ... express contempt.” He also stated that polling in 2001, however, indicated only “deeply committed” Democrats found the term offensive. Political analyst Charlie Cook attributed modern use of the term to force of habit rather than a deliberate epithet by Republicans. Ruth Marcus stated that Republicans likely only continue to employ the term because Democrats dislike it. Marcus stated that disagreements over use of the term are “trivial”, and Hertzberg calls use of the term “a minor irritation.”
Similar two-word phrases, using “Democrat” as an adjective have been deemed controversial when used as a substitute for “Democratic” (as in “Democrat idea”); NPR has banned the use of “Democrat” as an adjective. The term “Democrat Party” was in common use with no negative connotations by Democrats in some localities during the 1950s. The Dictionary of American Regional English gives numerous examples of “Democrat” being used as an adjective in everyday speech, especially in the Northeast.
History of usage
The history of the term has been traced by scholars. The earliest reported use of the term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, came in 1890: “Whether a little farmer from South Carolina named Tillman is going to rule the Democrat Party in America – yet it is this, and not output, on which the proximate value of silver depends.”
Modern usage of the term has been traced by William Safire to Thomas Dewey who he credits with its creation. The term gained popularity during the 1940 presidential campaign of Wendell Wilkie. Wilkie’s campaign manager Harold Stassen said, regarding his use in the 1940s, that because the Democratic Party was controlled “by Hague in New Jersey, Pendergast in Missouri and Kelly-Nash in Chicago, [it] should not be called a ‘Democratic Party.’ It should be called the ‘Democrat Party.’”
The noun-as-adjective has been used by Republican leaders since the 1940s in most GOP national platforms since 1948. By the early 1950s the term was in widespread use among Republicans of all factions. In 1968, Congressional Quarterly reported that at its national convention “the GOP did revert to the epithet of ‘Democrat’ party. The phrase had been used in 1952 and 1956 but not in 1960.”.
Use of the term has been a point of contention within the Republican Party. In 1984, when a delegate of the Republican platform committee asked unanimous consent to change a platform amendment to read the Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party, Representative Jack Kemp objected, saying that would be “an insult to our Democratic friends” and The committee dropped the proposal. In 1996, the wording throughout the Republican party platform was changed from “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party”: Republican leaders ” explained they wanted to make the subtle point that the Democratic Party had become elitist”. A proposal to use the term again the in August 2008 Republican Platform for similar reasons was voted down with leaders choosing to use “Democratic Party”. “We probably should use what the actual name is,” said Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the panel’s chairman. “At least in writing.”
The term has been used by Ralph Nader.
Google News Archive
15 September 1953, Lexington (NC) Dispatch, pg. 2, col. 1:
LEONARD HALL, the latest Republican national chairman, has really come up with somethng new.
In his quoted message to Mr. Stevenson, Chairman Hall speaks twice of the “Democrat party” though he concedes there is a “Democratic national committee.” If we were Mr. Stevenson we would first inform Mr. Hall that the Democratic Digest certainly has as much right to criticize Republican policies as a Republican chairman has to attempt to rename the “Democratic” party. It is conceded that there are some people registered as “Democrats” who have not always been as democratic in their thinking as their party label might signify. But for the chairman of one political party to try to change the name of the opposition party in an apparently serious manner is rather cheap skullduggery.
18 December 1954, New York (NY) Times, “Emotional Impact of Words,” Letters to The Times, pg. 14:
In recent years many leaders of the Republican party have taken to calling their opposition the “Democrat party.” This has the earmarks of being a calculated policy and seems to be a left-handed acknowledgment of the magic in the word “democratic.” These men appear to think that their party is at a disadvantage when the opposition is called the “Democratic party.”
(Letter by Edmond W. Sinnott, Jr. of New Haven, CT—ed.)
Google News Archive
7 October 1955, Lexington (NC) Dispatch, pg. 2, cols. 4-5:
Webster Backs Republican
On “Democrat Party” Case

Washington (AP)—Republican National Chairman Leonard M. Hall is a big, amiable man dedicated to the task of trying to defeat the Democratic party at every crossroads, hamlet and city in our broad land. And he can become not quite so amiable when on the subject of Democrats.
Lately, Hall has tartly referred to the “Democrat” party rather than using the more common term, the “Democratic” party. In this case, he was more or less following the lead set by other Republican leaders who profess to think that by saying “Democratic” party they encourage the thought that the Democrats are the party of the people.
It may see that Mr. Hall was splitting hairs in his Democrat-versus-Democratic argument. But a look into Webster’s New International Dictionary gives some surprising weight to this opinion for anyone who hasn’t browsed recently in the definitions of “democrat,” “democratic,” and “republican.”
Google News Archive
21 August 1956, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, pg. 8, col. 2:
Copies McCarthy,
GOP Labels Foe
“Democrat” Party

San Francisco, Calif.—AP—Some Republicans are bound and determined that there’s no such thing as a Democratic party in this country.
To them, that gang on the opposite side is the “Democrat party.”
Senator McCarthy dismayed some grammarians a few years ago when he habitually refused to give the Democrats all their syllables. GOP Chairman Leonard Hall cut ‘em off the same way.
Now it’s in vogue.
2 September 1956, New York (NY) Times, “(Ic)ky Question,” pg. E2:
Until recently, the verbal assault was pretty much focused on the party, its members and its policies; no one found fault with the appellation “Democratic Party.” But in 1954, at the Army-McCarthy hearings, the junior Senator from Wisconsin repeatedly referred to the “Democrat” party and “my Democrat colleagues,” reviving a term infrequently used in the past. At the G. O. P. convention in San Francisco, reporters noticed that the dropping of the “ic” seemed to have caught on. Last week, L. Richard Guylay, a Republican press agent, made it official; from now on his party was going to refer to the opposition as the “Democrat” party because, as he put it, “‘democratic’ as an adjective is not descriptive of the party as it exists today.”
The Democrats rose to defend their good name not in anger but with humor. In a communique, they announced that: “*** a grown man named L. Richard Guylay has been assigned the task of seeing that the ‘ic’ (in “Democratic”) is dropped from all Republican speeches ***.” Then the Democrats produced the results of a mythical survey in which 87 per cent of those pooled found “Republican Party” to be the “most desecriptive and least attractive” name for their opponents.
On Friday President Eisenhower left his fellow Republicans somewhat out on a limb. At his press conference he was asked: “Are you going to leave the ‘ic’ off?” He answered: “*** I will probably do it on the spur of the moment, but as far as I am concerned, if they want to be known as the Democratic party, it’s all right with me.”
6 September 1956, New York (NY) Times, “Political Name-Calling Deplored,” Letters to The Times, pg. 24:
To the extent that the Republicans have started and persist in this practice they are to blame. The Democratic retort of “Publican” party is obviously only a weak counter to the Republican slur. This primitive gambit of the Republicans will probably backfire—for it only succeeds in irritating all Democrats, of whom it is reported there are more than Republicans, and probably also those more sensitive Republicans who hate to see the English language distorted.
It certainly points up the Republican National Committee as being more concerned with McCarthy-type tactics of insult and derision than serious debate of issues.
Princeton, N. J., Aug. 31, 1956.
6 November 1958, New York (NY) Times, pg. 19:
President Restores “ic”
To Name of Democrats

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5—In his news conference today President Eisenhower restored to the name of the opposition party the “ic,” which he had frequently lopped off during the campaign.
Not once did he use the phrase “Democrat party.” According to reports here, he adopted that phrase during the campaign at the urging of Meade Alcorn, Republican National Chairman.
Google News Archive
28 August 1984, Madison (IN) Courier, “Is it Democrat Party?” by Tom Raum (Associated Press Writer), pg. 4, cols. 3-4:
Republican leaders a few years ago set about to change the name to “Democrat Party,” and for a while that was all you ever heard.
Republicans talked about the Democrat-controlled House and the Democrat administration of President Carter and the Democrat Party. The general idea they were trying to convey was that there was nothing democratic about the Democratic—er, Democrat—Party.
The GOP platform, which is very rough on Democrats in other areas, speaks of the “Democratic Party.” When one delegate moved that all references to Democratic be changed to Democrat to be consistent with GOP usage, no less a conservative than Rep. Jack Kemp of New York objected.
‘The name of the party is the Democratic Party, and there’s no point in going out of our way to insult our friends in the other party,” Kemp said.
Language Log
October 16, 2004
Making the World Safe for “Democracy”
Posted by Geoff Nunberg at October 16, 2004 03:32 PM
Dave Holsinger at Semantickler had a nice post a while back about the Republicans’ propensity for referring to the “Democrat Party.” Holsinger describes the manueuver a back-formation on the order of aspirate from aspiration. He’s right, I think, but thereon hangs a tale.
Back in 1984, William Safire did a column on the “Democrat Party,” label, saying:
Who started this and when? Acting on a tip, I wrote to the man who was campaign director of Wendell Willkie’s race against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. ‘‘In the Willkie campaign of 1940,’’ responded Harold Stassen, ‘‘I emphasized that the party controlled in large measure at that time by Hague in New Jersey, Pendergast in Missouri and Kelly Nash in Chicago should not be called a ‘Democratic Party.’ It should be called the ‘Democrat party.’ . . .’’ Mr. Stassen, who is only four years older than President Reagan, is remembered as a moderate Republican; his idea is still used by the most partisan members of the G.O.P. Democrats once threatened to retaliate by referring to their opponents as Publicans, but that was jettisoned. Despite the urge to clip, Democratic and Republican the parties remain.
The fact is that “Democrat Party” was in use well before Willkie’s campaign. Hoover used the phrase campaigning against Roosevelt in 1932. And back in 1923, H. Edmund Machold, the Republican Assembly Speaker of NY State, was quoted as saying:

The people of this State have chosen the Republican Party as the majority party in this House, and the representative of the opposite party, the Democrat Party, for the place of Chief Executive of the State, and have given to him the majority of the other house, the Senate. New York Times, Jan. 4, 1923.
The phrase occurs before then, but it seems to have been regarded more as a rusticism than as a partisan dig.
The New Yorker
The “Ic” Factor
by Hendrik Hertzberg
August 7, 2006
What is the name of a certain political party in the United States—not the one which controls the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government but the other one, which doesn’t?
An alternative view is that it’s called the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party itself takes this view, and many nonpartisan authorities agree. The American Heritage College Dictionary, for example, defines the noun “Democratic Party” as “One of the two major US political parties, owing its origin to a split in the Democratic-Republican Party under Andrew Jackson in 1828.” (It defines “Democrat n” as “A Democratic Party member” and “Democratic adj” as “Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Democratic Party,” but gives no definition for—indeed, makes no mention of—“Democrat Party n” or “Democrat adj”.) Other dictionaries, and reference works generally, appear to be unanimous on these points. The broader literate public also comes down on the “Democratic” side, as indicated by frequency of usage. A Google search for “Democratic Party” yields around forty million hits. “Democrat Party” fetches fewer than two million.
There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. “Democrat Party” is a slur, or intended to be—a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but “Democrat Party” is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams “rat.”
The history of “Democrat Party” is hard to pin down with any precision, though etymologists have traced its use to as far back as the Harding Administration. According to William Safire, it got a boost in 1940 from Harold Stassen, the Republican Convention keynoter that year, who used it to signify disapproval of such less than fully democratic Democratic machine bosses as Frank Hague of Jersey City and Tom Pendergast of Kansas City.
Media Matters for America
CNN.com posted article with derisive term “Democrat Party,” but original AP article used “Democrats”
October 31, 2006 6:40 pm ET
An October 30 Associated Press article about the attention Arab governments are giving to the U.S. congressional elections referred to the Democratic Party as “Democrats,” but a version of the article on CNN.com, since corrected, replaced the word “Democrats” with the phrase “Democrat Party.” As Media Matters for America noted, Republicans have employed the word “Democrat” as an adjective to describe things or people of, or relating to, the Democratic Party—including referring to the “Democrat” Party itself, even though that is not the party’s name. The ungrammatical conversion of the noun “Democrat” to an adjective was the brainchild of Republican partisans, presumably in an attempt to deny the opposing party the claim to being “democratic”—or in the words of New Yorker magazine senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg, “to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation.” In the early 1990s, apparently due largely to the urgings of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the use of the word “Democrat” as an adjective became near-universal among Republicans.
Google Books
Safire’s Political Dictionary
By William Safire
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Pg. 176:
In 1955 Leonard Hall, a former Republican National Chairman, began referring to the “Democrat” rather than the “Democratic” party, a habit begun by Thomas E. Dewey. Hall dropped the “ic,” he said, because “I think their claims that they represent the great mass of the people, and we don’t, is just a lot of bunk.”
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Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Sunday, November 07, 2010 • Permalink

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