Democratic-Republican Party

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Democratic-Republican Party
Other nameRepublican Party
Jeffersonian Republicans
Democratic Party[1][2][3]
LeaderThomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
Founded1792; 227 years ago (1792)
Dissolved1825; 194 years ago (1825)
Preceded byAnti-Administration party
Succeeded byDemocratic Party[4]
National Republican Party[4]
Anti-Masonic Party
IdeologyClassical liberalism

Political positionCenter to left-wing[10][11] (until 1815)
Big tent (1815 - 1825)
Colors     Green (customary)
     Blue      White      Red

The Democratic-Republican Party (formally called the Republican Party) was an American political party formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792 to oppose the centralizing policies of the new Federalist Party run by Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury and chief architect of George Washington's administration.[12] From 1801 to 1825, the new party controlled the presidency and Congress as well as most states during the First Party System. It began in 1791 as one faction in Congress and included many politicians who had been opposed to the new constitution. They distrusted the Federalist tendency to centralize and loosely interpret the Constitution, believing these policies were signs of monarchism and anti-republican values. The party splintered in 1824, with the faction loyal to Andrew Jackson coalescing into the Jacksonian movement (which would soon acquire the name Democratic Party), the faction led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay forming the National Republican Party and some other groups going on to form the Anti-Masonic Party. The National Republicans, Anti-Masons, and other opponents of Andrew Jackson later formed themselves into the Whig Party.[13]

During the time that this party existed, it was usually referred to as the Republican Party.[a] The Republicans took their name from their political philosophy, republicanism, though their Federalist opponents called them “Democrats” to associate them with the radicalism of the French Revolution."[14][15] (It should be noted that party leaders and supporters came to unofficially embrace the label and came to refer to themselves as both Democratic and Republican, a practice which the Jacksonians would continue into the 1840s to claim direct lineage.) To distinguish it from the modern Republican Party (founded in 1854), historians, political scientists and pundits often refer to this party as the Democratic-Republican Party or the Jeffersonian Republican Party. When the modern Republican Party was founded in 1854, it deliberately chose to name itself after the Jeffersonians.[16] In response, contemporary Democrats embraced the name Democratic-Republican to reinforce their party's claim to the party's pre-Jacksonian history. Modern Democratic politicians continue to claim Jefferson as their founder.[17]

The party arose from the Anti-Administration faction which met secretly in the national capital (Philadelphia) to oppose Alexander Hamilton's financial programs (see the American School and the Hamiltonian economic program). Jefferson denounced the programs as leading to monarchy and subversive of republicanism. Jefferson needed to have a nationwide party to challenge the Federalists, which Hamilton was building up with allies in major cities. Foreign affairs took a leading role in 1794–1795 as the Republicans vigorously opposed the Jay Treaty with the United Kingdom, which was then at war against the French Revolution. Republicans saw France as more democratic after its Revolution while the United Kingdom represented the hated monarchy and aristocracy. The party denounced many of Hamilton's measures as unconstitutional and conducive to aristocracy and monarchy, especially the national bank.

The party was strongest in the South and weakest in the Northeast. It demanded states' rights as expressed by the "Principles of 1798" articulated in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that would allow states to nullify a federal law.[18] Above all, the party stood for the primacy of the yeoman farmers. Republicans were deeply committed to the principles of republicanism, which they feared were threatened by the supposed monarchical tendencies of the Hamiltonian Federalists. The party came to power in 1801 with the election of Jefferson in the 1800 presidential election. The Federalists—too elitist to appeal to most people—faded away and totally collapsed after 1815. Despite internal divisions, the Republicans dominated the First Party System until partisanship itself withered away during the Era of Good Feelings after 1816.

The party selected its presidential candidates in a caucus of members of Congress. They included Thomas Jefferson (nominated 1796; elected 1800–1801, 1804), James Madison (1808, 1812) and James Monroe (1816, 1820). By 1824, the caucus system had practically collapsed. After 1800, the party dominated Congress and most state governments outside New England. By 1824, the party was also split four ways and lacked a center as the First Party System collapsed. The emergence of the Second Party System in the 1820s and 30s realigned the old factions. One remnant followed Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren into the new Democratic Party by 1828. Another remnant, led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, formed the National Republican Party in 1824 while some remaining smaller factions formed the Anti-Masonic Party, which along with some National Republican groups developed into the Whig Party by 1836.[19] Most remaining National Republicans would soon after go on to be a part of the Free Soil and modern Republican parties in the 1840s and 1850s.


Congressman James Madison started the party among Representatives in Philadelphia (then the national capital) as the "Republican Party".[20] Then he, Jefferson and others reached out to include state and local leaders around the country, especially New York and the South.[21] The precise date of founding is disputed, but 1791 is a reasonable estimate and some time by 1792 is certain. The new party set up newspapers that made withering critiques of Hamiltonianism, extolled the yeoman farmer, argued for strict construction of the Constitution in order to limit federal power, favored the French Revolution, strongly opposed Great Britain, and called for stronger state governments than the Federalist Party was proposing.[22]

Presidential elections of 1792 and 1796[edit]

The elections of 1792 were the first ones to be contested on anything resembling a partisan basis. In most states, the congressional elections were recognized—as Jefferson strategist John Beckley put it—as a "struggle between the Treasury department and the republican interest". In New York, the candidates for governor were John Jay, a Federalist; and incumbent George Clinton, who was allied with Jefferson and the Republicans.[23] Four states' electors voted for Clinton and one (Kentucky) for Jefferson for Vice President in opposition to incumbent John Adams as well as casting their votes for President Washington. Before 1804, electors cast two votes together without differentiation as to which office was to be filled by which candidate.

In the 1796 election, the party made its first bid for the presidency with Jefferson as its presidential candidate and Aaron Burr as its vice presidential candidate. Jefferson came in second in the electoral college (at the time, its balloting could not distinguish between President and Vice President) and became Vice President. He would become a consistent and strong opponent of the policies of the John Adams administration. Jefferson and Madison were deeply upset by the unconstitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and they secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which called on state legislatures to nullify unconstitutional laws. However, the other states did not follow suit and several rejected the notion that states could nullify federal law. The Republican critique of federalism became wrapped in the slogan of "Principles of 1798", which became the hallmark of the party. The most important of these principles were states' rights, opposition to a strong national government, distrust of the federal courts and opposition to the navy and the national bank. The party saw itself as a champion of republicanism and denounced the Federalists as supporters of monarchy and aristocracy.[24]

The party coalesced around Jefferson, who diligently maintained extensive correspondence with like-minded Republican leaders throughout the country. Washington frequently decried the growing sense of "party" emerging from the internal battles among Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams and others in his administration. As warfare in Europe increased, the two factions increasingly made foreign policy the central political issue of the day. The Republicans wanted to maintain the 1778 alliance with France, which had overthrown the monarchy and aristocracy and become a republic. Even though the UK was by far United States' leading trading partner, Republicans feared that increased trade would undermine republicanism. The Republicans distrusted Hamilton's national bank and rejected his premise that a national debt was good for the country as Republicans said they were both forms of corruption. They strongly distrusted the elitism of Hamilton's circle, denouncing it as "aristocratic"; and they called for states' rights lest the Federalists centralize ever more power in the national governments.[25] The intense debate over the Jay Treaty in 1794–1795 transformed those opposed to Hamilton's policies from a loose movement into a true political party. To fight the treaty, the Jeffersonians "established coordination in activity between leaders at the capital, and leaders, actives and popular followings in the states, counties and towns".[26] However, they were defeated when Washington mobilized public opinion in favor of the treaty.

Organizational strategy[edit]

The new party invented campaign and organizational techniques that were later adopted by the Federalists and became standard American practice. It was especially effective in building a network of newspapers in major cities to broadcast its statements and editorialize its policies.[27] Fisher Ames, a leading Federalist, used the term "Jacobin" to link members of Jefferson's party to the radicals of the French Revolution. He blamed the newspapers for electing Jefferson and wrote they were "an overmatch for any Government.... The Jacobins owe their triumph to the unceasing use of this engine; not so much to skill in use of it as by repetition".[28]

As one historian explained: "It was the good fortune of the Republicans to have within their ranks a number of highly gifted political manipulators and propagandists. Some of them had the ability... to not only see and analyze the problem at hand but to present it in a succinct fashion; in short, to fabricate the apt phrase, to coin the compelling slogan and appeal to the electorate on any given issue in language it could understand". Outstanding propagandists included editor William Duane (1760–1835) and party leaders Albert Gallatin, Thomas Cooper and Jefferson himself.[29] Just as important was effective party organization of the sort that John J. Beckley pioneered. In 1796, he managed the Jefferson campaign in Pennsylvania, blanketing the state with agents who passed out 30,000 hand-written tickets, naming all 15 electors (printed tickets were not allowed). Beckley told one agent: "In a few days a select republican friend from the City will call upon you with a parcel of tickets to be distributed in your County. Any assistance and advice you can furnish him with, as to suitable districts & characters, will I am sure be rendered". Beckley was the first American professional campaign manager and his techniques were quickly adopted in other states.[30]

The emergence of the new organizational strategies can be seen in the politics of Connecticut around 1806, which have been well documented by Cunningham. The Federalists dominated Connecticut, so the Republicans had to work harder to win. In 1806, the state leadership sent town leaders instructions for the forthcoming elections. Every town manager was told by state leaders "to appoint a district manager in each district or section of his town, obtaining from each an assurance that he will faithfully do his duty". Then the town manager was instructed to compile lists and total the number of taxpayers and the number of eligible voters, find out how many favored the Republicans and how many the Federalists and to count the number of supporters of each party who were not eligible to vote but who might qualify (by age or taxes) at the next election. These highly detailed returns were to be sent to the county manager and in turn were compiled and sent to the state manager. Using these lists of potential voters, the managers were told to get all eligible people to town meetings and help the young men qualify to vote. The state manager was responsible for supplying party newspapers to each town for distribution by town and district managers.[31] This highly coordinated "get-out-the-vote" drive would be familiar to modern political campaigners, but was the first of its kind in world history.

Revolution of 1800[edit]

The party's electors secured a majority in the 1800 election, but an equal number of electors cast votes for Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The tie sent the election to the House and Federalists there blocked any choice. Hamilton, believing that Burr would be a poor choice for president, intervened and let Jefferson win, a move that would result in the collapse of the Federalist Party and Hamilton's death four years later at the hands of Burr himself in a pistol duel. Starting in 1800 in what Jefferson called the "Revolution of 1800", the party took control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, beginning a quarter century of control of those institutions. A faction called "Old Republicans" opposed the nationalism that grew popular after 1815 as they were stunned when party leaders started a Second Bank of the United States in 1816. The first official Republican Congressional Caucus meeting took place at Marache's boarding house on May 11, 1800 in Philadelphia. The January 26, 1799 letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to Elbridge Gerry became the party's platform.

In the Senate chamber on February 25, 1804, a "Convention of Republican members of both houses of Congress" met. Senator Stephen Bradley presided, a Committee on Presidential Electors was formed and it was resolved that Thomas Jefferson be nominated for President and George Clinton be nominated Vice President. The party held a convention by the same name on January 23, 1808, again in the Senate chamber at 6:00 pm on a Saturday. Senator Stephen Bradley, who was the President pro tempore of the Senate, again served as President of the convention with Representative Richard Johnson as the Secretary. A Committee on Correspondence was formed, James Madison was nominated for President and George Clinton was re-nominated for Vice President.

Legislative issues were handled by the Committee of the Whole and the elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and floor leaders, who at that time were the Chairman for the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and Chairman for the Committee on Finance of the Senate. The state legislatures often instructed Members of Congress how to vote on specific issues. More exactly, they "instructed" the Senators (who were elected by the legislatures) and "requested" the Representatives (who were elected by the people). On rare occasions a Senator resigned rather than follow instructions. The opposition Federalist Party quickly declined, suffering from a lack of leadership after the death of Hamilton and the retirement of John Adams. It revived briefly in opposition to the War of 1812, but the extremism of its Hartford Convention of 1815 utterly destroyed it as a political force.

National debt[edit]

Jefferson and Albert Gallatin focused on the danger that the public debt, unless it was paid off, would be a threat to republican values. They were appalled that Hamilton was increasing the national debt and using it to solidify his Federalist base. Gallatin was the Republican Party's chief expert on fiscal issues and as Treasury Secretary under Jefferson and Madison worked hard to lower taxes and lower the debt, while at the same time paying cash for the Louisiana Purchase and funding the War of 1812. Burrows says of Gallatin:

His own fears of personal dependency and his small shopkeeper's sense of integrity, both reinforced by a strain of radical republican thought that originated in England a century earlier, convinced him that public debts were a nursery of multiple public evils—corruption, legislative impotence, executive tyranny, social inequality, financial speculation, and personal indolence. Not only was it necessary to extinguish the existing debt as rapidly as possible, he argued, but Congress would have to ensure against the accumulation of future debts by more diligently supervising government expenditures.[32]

However, after examining at Jefferson's direction the economic structures that Hamilton had created, Gallatin reported:

I have found the most perfect system ever formed, and any change that should be made, would only injure it - Hamilton made no blunders, committed no frauds - he did nothing wrong.[33]

Fear of a large debt is a major legacy of the party. Andrew Jackson believed the national debt was a "national curse" and he took special pride in paying off the entire national debt in 1835.[34] Politicians ever since have used the issue of a high national debt to denounce the other party for profligacy and a threat to fiscal soundness and the nation's future.[35]

Monroe and Adams (1816–1828)[edit]

James Monroe, the third Democratic-Republican president

In rapidly expanding western states, the Federalists had few supporters. Every state had a distinct political geography that shaped party membership. In Pennsylvania, the Republicans were weakest around Philadelphia and strongest in Scots-Irish settlements in the west. Members came from all social classes, but came predominantly from the poor, subsistence farmers, mechanics and tradesmen.[36] After the War of 1812, partisanship subsided across the young republic—people called it the Era of Good Feelings. James Monroe narrowly won the party's nomination for President in Congress over William Crawford in 1816 and defeated Federalist Rufus King in the general election.

In the early years of the party, the key central organization grew out of caucuses of Congressional leaders in Washington. However, the key battles to choose electors occurred in the states, not in the caucus. In many cases, legislatures still chose electors; and in others, the election of electors was heavily influenced by local parties that were heavily controlled by relatively small groups of officials. Without a significant Federalist opposition, the need for party unity was greatly diminished and the party's organization faded away.

James Monroe ran under the party's banner in the 1820 election and built support by consensus. Monroe faced no serious rival and was nearly unanimously elected by the electoral college. As President he envisioned the complete absorption of the Federalists into the Jeffersonian fold, with the unfulfilled hope that political parties would disappear in the new national consensus, the Era of Good Feelings. The party's historic domination by the Virginian delegation faded as New York and Pennsylvania became more important. In the 1824 election, most of the party in Congress boycotted the caucus; only a small rump group backed William Crawford. The Crawford faction included most "Old Republicans"—those who remained committed to states' rights and the Principles of 1798 and were distrustful of the nationalizing program promoted by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.

John Quincy Adams won election as a Democratic-Republican in 1824 and later founded the National Republican Party

Thomas Jefferson wrote on the state of party politics in the early 1820s:[37]

An opinion prevails that there is no longer any distinction, that the republicans & Federalists are completely amalgamated but it is not so. The amalgamation is of name only, not of principle. All indeed call themselves by the name of Republicans, because that of Federalists was extinguished in the battle of New Orleans. But the truth is that finding that monarchy is a desperate wish in this country, they rally to the point which they think next best, a consolidated government. Their aim is now therefore to break down the rights reserved by the constitution to the states as a bulwark against that consolidation, the fear of which produced the whole of the opposition to the constitution at its birth. Hence new Republicans in Congress, preaching the doctrines of the old Federalists, and the new nick-names of Ultras and Radicals. But I trust they will fail under the new, as the old name, and that the friends of the real constitution and union will prevail against consolidation, as they have done against monarchism. I scarcely know myself which is most to be deprecated, a consolidation, or dissolution of the states. The horrors of both are beyond the reach of human foresight.

A split appeared in the then Republican party during the 1824 presidential election (at the end of the Monroe administration). When the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, Henry Clay backed John Quincy Adams to deny the presidency to Andrew Jackson, a longtime political rival. In the aftermath of the election, the separate factions took on many characteristics of parties in their own right. Adams' supporters, in league with Clay, favored modernization, banks, industrial development and federal spending for roads and other internal improvements, which the Old Republicans and the Jackson men usually opposed. Writing in his personal journal on December 13, 1826, President Adams noted the difficulty he faced in attempting to be nonpartisan in appointing men to office:[38]

And it is upon the occasion of appointments to office that all the wormwood and the gall of the old party hatred ooze out. Not a vacancy to any office occurs but there is a distinguished federalist started and pushed home as a candidate to fill it—always well qualified, sometimes in an eminent degree, and yet so obnoxious to the Republican party that he cannot be appointed without exciting a vehement clamor against him and against the Administration. It becomes thus impossible to fill any appointment without offending one-half the community—the federalists, if their associate is overlooked; the Republicans, if he is preferred.

Presidential electors were now all chosen by direct election, except in South Carolina, where the state legislatures chose them. White manhood suffrage was the norm throughout the West and in most of the East as well. The voters thus were much more powerful, and to win their votes required complex party organization. Under the leadership of Martin Van Buren, a firm believer in political organization, the Jacksonians built strong state and local organizations throughout the country. The Old Republicans, or "Radicals", mostly supported Jackson and joined with supporters of incumbent Vice President Calhoun in an alliance. President Adams was defeated by Andrew Jackson in the election of 1828.

Republican Party name[edit]

Political parties were new in the United States and people were not accustomed to having formal names for them. There was no single official name for the party, but party members generally called themselves Republicans and voted for what they called the "Republican party", "republican ticket" or "republican interest".[39][40] Jefferson and Madison often used the terms "republican" and "Republican party" in their letters.[41] The 1804 Convention of Republican members of Congress that renominated Jefferson described itself as a "regular republican caucus". The name Democratic-Republican was used by contemporaries only occasionally.[42]

When the party split during the John Quincy Adams administration, initially its two successor parties both kept the word Republican in their names—Adams' faction used the term National Republicans while Jackson's faction used the term Democratic Republicans. However, Jackson's faction soon settled on the shorter name Democrats.[13]

As a general term (not a party name), the word republican had been in widespread usage from the 1770s to describe the type of government the break-away colonies wanted to form: a republic of three separate branches of government derived from some principles and structure from ancient republics; especially the emphasis on civic duty and the opposition to corruption, elitism, aristocracy and monarchy.[43] The word is used in the United States Constitution.[44]


The Adams-Clay alliance became the basis of the National Republican Party, a rival to the Jackson's Democracy and one of the successors of the Democratic-Republican Party. This party favored a higher tariff in order to protect U.S. manufacturers, as well as public works, especially roads. Many former members of the defunct Federalist Party, including Daniel Webster, joined the party. After Clay's defeat by Jackson in the 1832 presidential election, the National Republicans were absorbed into the Whig Party, a diverse group of Jackson opponents. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, "Both parties [the Democrats and the Whigs] traced their origins to Jeffersonian Republicanism: Democrats to the Old Republicanism of Macon and Crawford; Whigs to the new Republican nationalism of Madison and Gallatin."[4]

Taking a leaf from the Jacksonians, the Whigs tended to nominate non-ideological war heroes as their presidential candidates. The Whig party fell apart in the 1850s over the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery into new territories. The modern Republican Party was formed in 1854 to oppose the expansion of slavery. Many former Whig party leaders (such as Abraham Lincoln – modern Republican Party supporters still sometimes refer to themselves as "the party of Lincoln") and former Free Soil Party leaders joined the newly formed anti-slavery party.[45] The party sought to combine Jefferson's ideals of liberty and equality with Clay's program of using an active government to modernize the economy.[46]

Electoral history[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Election Ticket Popular vote Electoral vote
Presidential nominee Running mate Percentage Electoral votes Ranking
1796 Thomas Jefferson[b] Aaron Burr[c] 46.6
68 / 138
1800 61.4
73 / 138
1804 George Clinton 72.8
162 / 176
1808 James Madison 64.7
122 / 176
1812 Elbridge Gerry 50.4
128 / 217
DeWitt Clinton[d] Jared Ingersoll 47.6
89 / 217
1816 James Monroe Daniel D. Tompkins 68.2
183 / 217
1820 80.6
231 / 232
1824[e] Andrew Jackson John C. Calhoun 41.4
99 / 261
John Quincy Adams 30.9
84 / 261
William H. Crawford Nathaniel Macon 11.2
41 / 261
Henry Clay Nathan Sanford 13
37 / 261
  1. ^ In his first presidential run, Jefferson did not win the presidency, and Burr did not win the vice presidency. However, under the pre-12th Amendment election rules, Jefferson won the vice presidency due to dissension among Federalist electors.
  2. ^ In their second presidential run, Jefferson and Burr received the same number of electoral votes. Jefferson was subsequently chosen as President by the House of Representatives.
  3. ^ While commonly labeled as the Federalist candidate, Clinton technically ran as a Democratic-Republican and was not nominated by the Federalist party itself, the latter simply deciding not to field a candidate. This did not prevent endorsements from state Federalist parties (such as in Pennsylvania), but he received the endorsement from the New York state Democratic-Republicans as well.
  4. ^ William H. Crawford and Albert Gallatin were nominated for president and vice-president by a group of 66 Congressmen that called itself the "Democratic members of Congress".[47] Gallatin later withdrew from the contest. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay ran as Republicans, although they were not nominated by any national body. While Jackson won a plurality in the electoral college and popular vote, he did not win the constitutionally required majority of electoral votes to be elected president. The contest was thrown to the House of Representatives, where Adams won with Clay's support. The electoral college chose John C. Calhoun for vice president.

Congressional representation[edit]

The affiliation of many Congressmen in the earliest years is an assignment by later historians. The parties were slowly coalescing groups; at first there were many independents. Cunningham noted that only about a quarter of the House of Representatives up until 1794 voted with Madison as much as two-thirds of the time and another quarter against him two-thirds of the time, leaving almost half as fairly independent.[48]

Congress Years Senate[49] House of Representatives[50] President
Total Anti-
Others Vacancies Total Anti-
Others Vacancies
1st 1789–1791 26 8 18 65 28 37 George Washington
2nd 1791–1793 30 13 16 1 69 30 39
3rd 1793–1795 30 14 16 105 54 51
Congress Years Total Democratic-
Federalists Others Vacancies Total Democratic-
Federalists Others Vacancies President
4th 1795–1797 32 11 21 106 59 47 George Washington
5th 1797–1799 32 10 22 106 49 57 John Adams
6th 1799–1801 32 10 22 106 46 60
7th 1801–1803 34 17 15 2 107 68 38 1 Thomas Jefferson
8th 1803–1805 34 25 9 142 103 39
9th 1805–1807 34 27 7 142 114 28
10th 1807–1809 34 28 6 142 116 26
11th 1809–1811 34 27 7 142 92 50 James Madison
12th 1811–1813 36 30 6 143 107 36
13th 1813–1815 36 28 8 182 114 68
14th 1815–1817 38 26 12 183 119 64
15th 1817–1819 42 30 12 185 146 39 James Monroe
16th 1819–1821 46 37 9 186 160 26
17th 1821–1823 48 44 4 187 155 32
18th 1823–1825 48 43 5 213 189 24
Congress Years Total Pro-Jackson Pro-Adams Others Vacancies Total Pro-Jackson Pro-Adams Others Vacancies President
19th 1825–1827 48 26 22 213 104 109 John Quincy Adams
20th 1827–1829 48 27 21 213 113 100
Senate House of Representatives

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Larson, Edward J. A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign. p. 17. Although Jefferson did not oppose ratification, he became a leading voice within the faction that included both Anti-Federalists, who had opposed ratification, and more moderate critics of a strong national government. Collectively, its members became known as Republicans or, later, Democrats.
  2. ^ Lipset, Seymour Martin. Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. p. 292.
  3. ^ de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. p. Volume One, Part II, Ch. II. There had always been something artificial in the means and temporary in the resources which maintained the Federalists; it was the virtues and talents of their leaders, combined with lucky circumstances, which had brought them to power. When the Republicans came in turn to power, the opposing party seemed to be engulfed by a sudden flood. A huge majority declared against it, and suddenly finding itself so small a minority, it at once fell into despair. Thenceforth the Republican, or Democratic, party has gone on from strength to strength and taken possession of the whole of society.
  4. ^ a b c Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 582.
  5. ^ Ohio History Connection. "Democratic-Republican Party". Ohio History Central. Retrieved August 30, 2017. Democratic-Republicans favored keeping the U.S. economy based on agriculture and said that the U.S. should serve as the agricultural provider for the rest of the world [...]. Economically, the Democratic-Republicans wanted to remain a predominantly agricultural nation, [...].
  6. ^ "Anti-Federalist vs. Federalist". Diffen.
  7. ^ Rich Rubino (June 13, 2013). "Democratic and Republican Ideologies Undergo Dramatic Role Reversal". HuffPost. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "Democratic-Republican Party". Encyclopædia Britannica. July 20, 1998. Retrieved August 30, 2017. The Republicans contended that the Federalists harboured aristocratic attitudes and that their policies placed too much power in the central government and tended to benefit the affluent at the expense of the common man.
  9. ^ James R., Beasley (1972). "Emerging Republicanism and the Standing Order: The Appropriation Act Controversy in Connecticut, 1793 to 1795". The William and Mary Quarterly. 29 (4): 604. doi:10.2307/1917394. JSTOR 1917394.
  10. ^ UCLA Department of Political Science. "Democratic-Republican Party ideology over time". Voteview. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  11. ^ Larson, Edward J. A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign. p. 21. The divisions between Adams and Jefferson were exasperated by the more extreme views expressed by some of their partisans, particularly the High Federalists led by Hamilton on what was becoming known as the political right, and the so-called democratic wing of the Republican Party on the left, associated with New York Governor George Clinton and Pennsylvania legislator Albert Gallatin, among others.
  12. ^ "Democratic-Republican Party". The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 210, 275.
  14. ^ Kenneth Janda; Jeffrey M. Berry; Jerry Goldman and Deborah Deborah (2015). The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics 13th ed. Cengage Learning. p. 212.
  15. ^ In a private letter in September 1798, George Washington wrote, "You could as soon as scrub the blackamore white, as to change the principles of a profest Democrat; and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country." George Washington (1939). The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799 Volume 36 August 4, 1797-October 28, 1798. p. 474.
  16. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 66, 275, 897.
  17. ^ "S.2047 - A bill to establish a commission to commemorate the bicentennial of the establishment of the Democratic Party of the United States". The Congress finds that-- (1) it is generally acknowledged that the evolution of the political party system in the United States provided life and flesh for the framework of democratic governance that was established by the Constitution; (2) Thomas Jefferson founded the first political party in the United States, the Democratic Party, which was originally known as the Republican Party, in order to accommodate the honest differences of our emerging Nation's people, to ensure that freedoms provided would be honored, to guarantee that complaints against the government could be redressed, and to effectuate the choice of the electorate in the peaceful transfer of political power; (3) in 1992, the Democratic Party of the United States will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its establishment on May 13, 1792; (4) an understanding of the historical development of the Democratic Party is crucial to an understanding of the history of the United States; and (5) it is appropriate and desirable to provide for the observation and commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Democratic Party.
  18. ^ Susan Dunn (2004). Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 279. ISBN 978-0618131648.
  19. ^ Paul Kleppner, et. al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1981), ch 3
  20. ^ James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, March 2, 1794 "I see by a paper of last evening that even in New York a meeting of the people has taken place, at the instance of the Republican Party, and that a committee is appointed for the like purpose."
    Thomas Jefferson to President Washington, May 23, 1792 "The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in its present form, are fewer in number. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists...."
  21. ^ William Nesbit Chambers, Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776–1809 (1963) pp 81–91.
  22. ^ Saul Cornell, The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788–1828 (1999)
  23. ^ Elkins and McKitrick, The Age of Federalism p. 288.
  24. ^ James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis (1993).
  25. ^ Lance Banning, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (1980).
  26. ^ Chambers, Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776–1809 (1963) p. 80.
  27. ^ Jeffrey L. Pasley. "The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic (2003)
  28. ^ Cunningham (1957), 167.
  29. ^ Tinkcom, 271.
  30. ^ Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "John Beckley: An Early American Party Manager", William and Mary Quarterly, 13 (Jan. 1956), 40–52, in JSTOR
  31. ^ Cunningham (1963), 129.
  32. ^ Edwin G. Burrows (2000). "Gallatin, Albert" in American National Biography Online. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  33. ^ James Alexander Hamilton (1869). Reminiscences of James A. Hamilton: Or, Men and Events, at Home and Abroad, During Three Quarters of a Century. C. Scribner & Company. Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized July 17, 2007. p. 23. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Robert V. Remini (2008). Andrew Jackson. Macmillan. p. 180. ISBN 9780230614703.
  35. ^ Stuart Nagel (1994). Encyclopedia of Policy Studies (2nd ed.). Taylor & Francis. pp. 503–504. ISBN 9780824791421.
  36. ^ Klein, 44.
  37. ^ "Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, October 27, 1822". Retrieved October 2, 2006. See also: "Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, June 12, 1823". Transcript. "Thomas Jefferson to Edward Livingston, April 4, 1824". Transcript. "Thomas Jefferson to William Short, January 8, 1825". "Thomas Jefferson to William B. Giles, December 26, 1825". Transcript.
  38. ^ Adams, John Quincy (1875). Charles Francis Adams (ed.). Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary..., Volume 7. J.B. Lippincott & Company. pp. 207–08. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  39. ^ For examples of original quotes and documents from various states, see Cunningham, Noble E., Jeffersonian Republicans: The Formation of Party Organization: 1789–1801 (1957), pp. 48, 63–66, 97, 99, 103, 110, 111, 112, 144, 151, 153, 156, 157, 161, 163, 188, 196, 201, 204, 213, 218 and 234.
    See also "Address of the Republican committee of the County of Gloucester, New-Jersey", Gloucester County, December 15, 1800.
  40. ^ Jefferson used the term "republican party" in a letter to Washington in May 1792 to refer to those in Congress who were his allies and who supported the existing republican constitution. "Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, May 23, 1792". Retrieved October 4, 2006. At a conference with Washington a year later, Jefferson referred to "what is called the republican party here". Bergh, ed. Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1907) 1:385, 8:345
  41. ^ "James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, March 2, 1794". Retrieved October 14, 2006. "I see by a paper of last evening that even in New York a meeting of the people has taken place, at the instance of the Republican party, and that a committee is appointed for the like purpose." See also: Smith, 832.
    "James Madison to William Hayward, March 21, 1809. Address to the Republicans of Talbot Co. Maryland". Retrieved October 27, 2006.
    "Thomas Jefferson to John Melish, January 13, 1813". Retrieved October 27, 2006. "The party called republican is steadily for the support of the present constitution"
    "James Madison to Baltimore Republican Committee, April 22, 1815". Retrieved October 27, 2006.
    "James Madison to William Eustis, May 22, 1823". Retrieved October 27, 2006. Transcript. "The people are now able every where to compare the principles and policy of those who have borne the name of Republicans or Democrats with the career of the adverse party and to see and feel that the former are as much in harmony with the Spirit of the Nation as the latter was at variance with both."
  42. ^ See The Aurora General Advertiser (Philadelphia), April. 30, 1795, p. 3; New Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth), October 15, 1796, p. 3; Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), October 10, 1797, p. 3; Columbian Centinel (Boston), September 15, 1798, p. 2; Alexandria (VA) Times, October 8, 1798, p. 2; Daily Advertiser (New York), September 22, 1800, p. 2 & November 25, 1800, p. 2; The Oracle of Dauphin (Harrisburg), October 6, 1800, p. 3; Federal Gazette (Baltimore), October 23, 1800, p. 3; The Spectator (New York), October 25, 1800, p. 3; Poulson's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), November 19, 1800, p. 3; Windham (CT) Herald, November 20, 1800, p. 2; City Gazette (Charleston), November 22, 1800, p. 2; The American Mercury (Hartford), November 27, 1800, p. 3; and Constitutional Telegraphe (Boston), November 29, 1800, p. 3.
    After 1802, some local organizations slowly began merging "Democratic" into their own name and became known as the "Democratic Republicans". Examples include 1802, 1803, 1804, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809.
  43. ^ Banning, 79–90.
  44. ^ "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" (Constitution of the United States, Art. 4. Sect. 4.)
  45. ^ "The Origin of the Republican Party, A.F. Gilman, Ripon College, 1914". Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  46. ^ Gould, 14.
  47. ^ "Anti-Caucus/Caucus". Washington Republican. February 6, 1824.
  48. ^ Cunningham (1957), 82.
  49. ^ "Party Division". United States Senate.
  50. ^ "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives, 1789 to Present". United States House of Representatives.


  • Adams, Henry, History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1889; Library of America ed. 1987).
  • Adams, Henry, History of the United States during the Administrations of James Madison (1891; Library of America ed. 1986).
  • Banning, Lance. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (1980).
  • Beard, Charles A. Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy (1915).
  • Brown, Stuart Gerry. The First Republicans: Political Philosophy and Public Policy in the Party of Jefferson and Madison 1954.
  • Chambers, Wiliam Nisbet. Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776–1809 (1963).
  • Cornell, Saul. The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788–1828 (1999) (ISBN 0-8078-2503-4).
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. Jeffersonian Republicans: The formation of Party Organization: 1789–1801 (1957).
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power: Party Operations 1801–1809 (1963).
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Process of Government Under Jefferson (1978).
  • Dawson, Matthew Q. Partisanship and the Birth of America's Second Party, 1796–1800: Stop the Wheels of Government. Greenwood, 2000.
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995), detailed political history of 1790s.
  • Ferling, John. Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 (2004) (ISBN 0-19-516771-6).
  • Gammon, Samuel Rhea. The Presidential Campaign of 1832 (1922).
  • Gould, Lewis. Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans (2003) (ISBN 0-375-50741-8) concerns the party founded in 1854.
  • Onuf, Peter S., ed. Jeffersonian Legacies. (1993) (ISBN 0-8139-1462-0).
  • Pasley, Jeffrey L. et al. eds. Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic (2004).
  • Ray, Kristofer. "The Republicans Are the Nation? Thomas Jefferson, William Duane, and the Evolution of the Republican Coalition, 1809–1815." American Nineteenth Century History 14.3 (2013): 283–304.
  • Risjord, Norman K.; The Old Republicans: Southern Conservatism in the Age of Jefferson (1965) on the Randolph faction.
  • Sharp, James Roger. American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis (1993) detailed narrative of 1790s.
  • Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic 1801–1815 (1968), survey of political history.
  • Van Buren, Martin. Van Buren, Abraham, Van Buren, John, ed. Inquiry Into the Origin and Course of Political Parties in the United States (1867) (ISBN 1-4181-2924-0).
  • Wiltse, Charles Maurice. The Jeffersonian Tradition in American Democracy (1935).
  • Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005), detailed narrative history, 1800–1860.
  • Wills, Garry. Henry Adams and the Making of America (2005), a close reading of Henry Adams (1889–1891).


  • Cunningham, Noble E. In Pursuit of Reason The Life of Thomas Jefferson (ISBN 0-345-35380-3) (1987).
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. "John Beckley: An Early American Party Manager", William and Mary Quarterly, 13 (January 1956), 40–52, in JSTOR.
  • Miller, John C. Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox (1959), full-scale biography.
  • Peterson; Merrill D. Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography (1975), full-scale biography.
  • Remini, Robert. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (1991), a standard biography.
  • Rutland, Robert A., ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751–1836: An Encyclopedia (1994).
  • Schachner, Nathan. Aaron Burr: A Biography (1961), full-scale biography.
  • Wiltse, Charles Maurice. John C. Calhoun, Nationalist, 1782–1828 (1944).

State studies[edit]

  • Beeman, Richard R. The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788–1801 (1972), on Virginia politics.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. The Transformation of Political Culture. Massachusetts Parties, 1790s–1840s (1984) (ISBN 0-19-503509-7).
  • Gilpatrick, Delbert Harold. Jeffersonian Democracy in North Carolina, 1789–1816 (1931).
  • Goodman, Paul. The Democratic-Republicans of Massachusetts (1964).
  • Klein, Philip Shriver. Pennsylvania Politics, 1817–1832: A Game without Rules 1940.
  • Prince, Carl E. New Jersey's Jeffersonian Republicans: The Genesis of an Early Party Machine, 1789–1817 (1967).
  • Risjord; Norman K. Chesapeake Politics, 1781–1800 (1978) on Virginia and Maryland.
  • Tinkcom, Harry M. The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790–1801 (1950).
  • Young, Alfred F. The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763–1797 (1967).


  • Humphrey, Carol Sue The Press of the Young Republic, 1783–1833 (1996).
  • Knudson, Jerry W. Jefferson And the Press: Crucible of Liberty (2006) how 4 Republican and 4 Federalist papers covered election of 1800; Thomas Paine; Louisiana Purchase; Hamilton-Burr duel; impeachment of Chase; and the embargo.
  • Jeffrey L. Pasley. "The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic (2003) (ISBN 0-8139-2177-5).
  • Stewart, Donald H. The Opposition Press of the Federalist Era (1968), highly detailed study of Republican newspapers.
  • National Intell & Washington Advertister. January 16, 1801. Issue XXXIII COl. B.
  • The complete text, searchable, of all early American newspapers are online at Readex America's Historical Newspapers, available at research libraries.

Primary sources[edit]

  • Adams, John Quincy. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848 Volume VII (1875) edited by Charles Francis Adams; (ISBN 0-8369-5021-6). Adams, son of the Federalist president, switched and became a Republican in 1808.
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr., ed. The Making of the American Party System 1789 to 1809 (1965) excerpts from primary sources.
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr., ed. Circular Letters of Congressmen to Their Constituents 1789–1829 (1978), 3 vol; reprints the political newsletters sent out by congressmen.
  • Kirk, Russell ed. John Randolph of Roanoke: A study in American politics, with selected speeches and letters, 4th ed., Liberty Fund, 1997, 588 pp.  ISBN 0-86597-150-1; Randolph was a leader of the "Old Republican" faction.
  • Smith, James Morton, ed. The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776–1826 Volume 2 (1994).

External links[edit]