Bernie Sanders' grassroots US presidential campaign wound down Monday at the Democratic National Convention, going out with a bang, not a whimper.

Cheered wildly by thousands of delegates gathered for the four-day convention in Philadelphia, Sanders presented himself as a great reconciler amid angry protests by his supporters who still held out hope.

"Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States," Sanders declared, pledging to do all he can to make sure Clinton and other Democrats are elected in November. "I am proud to stand with her tonight."

The US senator from Vermont said no one is more disappointed than he that the 1,846 delegates he won in 23 contests during the primary season weren't enough to capture the nomination.

But Sanders received sustained applause when he said his campaign began a political revolution to transform America "and that revolution - our revolution - continues."

The Democrats must defeat Donald Trump, who formally became the Republican nominee last week at his party's convention. The 74-year-old called Trump the worst candidate in modern US history.

The organizers of the programme put Sanders' speech last shortly before announcing the order of speeches with the goal of making it the high point of the evening, an adjustment that meant Michelle Obama's appearance came before his.

Sanders met earlier in an informal session with delegates, telling them his campaign had accomplished something "nothing short of astonishing."

It desevers credit, Sanders said, for bringing progressive social issues, including universal healthcare, a strong stand on climate change, free college tuition and an increase in the minimum wage, to the forefront.

"When we began our campaign we were considered fringe and irrelevant by the pundits and the media. Well, 13 million votes later it appears that we have begun the process of transforming our country and radically changing the political landscape," he said.

Sanders also said his campaign, which was backed in a big way by students, environmentalists and left-leaning retirees, had changed the policy platform of the Democratic Party making it was "the most progressive platform, by far, in the history of the party."

Among the changes Sanders cited were Clinton's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and her support for parts of his plan to make college tuition free.

Sanders supporters were easy to spot among the colorful crowd. Many waved banners declaring "Feel the Bern" or holding signs reading "Bernie or Bust."

Earlier in the day there were signs that the party's hopes for unity could prove difficult to achieve.

A controversy over hacked emails published by WikiLeaks showing the extent to which the party leadership favoured Clinton over Sanders threatened the unity theme and led to the resignation of the party chairwoman.

Sanders said Sunday he found the favouritism toward Clinton revealed in the hacked emails "outrageous," but didn't mention the controversy in his speech.

Sanders supporters said it only proved what they often suspected during the primary season: that the deck was stacked in favour of Clinton.

Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who announced Sunday that she would step down at the end of the convention, was shouted down Monday when she addressed delegates at a breakfast. She originally was scheduled to open and close the session on Monday, but she never took the stage.

The rough start to the convention was not what the Democrats wanted. They are focused on the moment on Thursday when the first major political party is scheduled to make a woman its nominee.

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