Democratic-Republican Party


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Democratic-Republican Party
is article contains an overview of the history of the Democratic-Republican Party, its leaders and their beliefs and the origin of the name.

Democratic-Republican Party Definition and Summary
Summary and Definition of the Democratic-Republican Party: The Democratic-Republican Party was the name given to the group of politicians (at first called the Anti-Federalists) who opposed the Federalist political party. The Democratic-Republican Party was led by Thomas Jefferson
and supported a strict interpretation of the Constitution in order to limit the powers of the federal (national) government.

Democratic-Republican Party History: The Federalist Political Party
The history of the Democratic-Republican Party began with the rise of the Federalist political party that  believed that the national government should have more power than the state governments. Many of the Federalists were wealthy aristocrats and had roots in the British system of monarchy and believed that the government should be run by the elite. The notion that the government could be run by ordinary people was completely foreign to them. The leaders of the Federalist political party were Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.

Democratic-Republican Party History: The Anti-Federalists
The Anti-Federalists were totally opposed to the Federalists idea of government.  The Anti-Federalists believed that the vast majority of ordinary, less educated Americans, had the common sense and skills required to run the government. The last thing they wanted was a government based on the class conscious British system.

Democratic-Republican Party History: The First Change of Name to Republicans
The Anti-Federalists at first changed their name in 1792 to the Republican Party, sometimes referred to as the the Jeffersonian Republicans to avoid confusion with the modern Republican Party. Republicanism is a political values system that emphasizes the ideas of liberty and "unalienable" rights as their central values, rejecting aristocracy, corruption and inherited political power. The Republican Party supported states’ rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Democratic-Republican Party History: The Change of Name to Democratic-Republicans
The name Democratic-Republican Party was at first a derogatory name for the party that was applied by the Federalists. The derisive term 'Democratic' was added to convey the extreme actions taken in the name of Democracy during the
French Revolution and the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 issued by George Washington had resulted in the resignation of Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. Jefferson and the Republicans had believed that they were the only anti-monarchical party in America, and that the federalists were enemies of a republic, liberty and the rights of man. The Republicans admired many of the ideals of the French citizens with their strong anti-monarchist sentiments and their belief of the principle of government by the people. The Federalists plan to discredit the Republicans backfired, the 'derisive' name stuck, and the Republicans were happy to call their party the Democratic-Republicans.

Democratic-Republican Party Leaders
Who led the Democratic-Republican Party? The leader of the Democratic-Republican Party was initially Thomas Jefferson with James Madison offering strong support. Other notable members and leaders of the Democratic-Republican Party were George Mason, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and George Clinton.

Democratic-Republican Party: Presidents
The US Presidents elected on the Democratic-Republican Party platform were:

  • Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

  • James Madison (1809–1817)

  • James Monroe (1817–1825)

  • John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

Democratic-Republican Party: Political Base
The Democratic-Republicans held their political base in the rural South and the West, supported by the farmers, laborers, skilled workers  and planters as opposed to the Federalists whose political base was in the Industrialized north supported by the manufacturers, merchants and bankers.

Democratic-Republican Party Beliefs
The Democratic-Republican Party was founded based on their beliefs that the country should be run by two co-equal areas of Government -  the State Governments and the National Government, both having equal power and able to operate fairly independently of the other. The beliefs of the Democratic-Republican Party were:

  • The principles of Republicanism

  • States Rights

  • Protection of the rights of citizens and the support of the poorer Americans and recent immigrants

  • Opposition to the financial plans of Alexander Hamilton and the establishment of the National Bank (First Bank of the United States)

  • Opposition to an increased national debt

  • Opposition to high tariffs

  • Opposition to an enlarged navy and army with increased military spending

  • Opposition to the aristocracy, elitism and monarchy

  • Opposition to the exclusive power of a central government

  • A strict interpretation of the Constitution

Democratic-Republican Party Foreign Policy
The Democratic-Republican Party
foreign policy was to support an alliance with France who had overthrown the French monarchy and aristocracy in favor of the people and had become a Republic. The Federalists clamped down on those who spoke in favor of the France under the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts which also reduced and denied the rights of immigrants. They also opposed the Jay Treaty because they favored more positive relations with France, rather than Great Britain.


Democratic-Republican Party Slogan: "Principles of 1798"
The slogan of the Democratic-Republicans was the "Principles of 1798". The term "Principles of 1798"derives from the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions written in 1798 by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The term "Principles of 1798" encompass the belief that individual states could judge the constitutionality of central government laws, and could refuse to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional. The refusal to enforce unconstitutional laws is referred to as "nullification" and were the basis of the Nullification Crisis of 1832.

Democratic-Republican Party Symbol
The symbol of the Democratic-Republican Party was the was a red, white and blue tricolor cockade, based on the symbol of the French Revolution.

Democratic-Republican Party Split
Why did the Democratic-Republican Party split? The Democratic-Republican Party split into two parties following the 1824 presidential election. The leaders of the two major factions of the party, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, were both nominated for president. Other Democratic-Republican Party support went to William H. Crawford and Henry Cl
ay. The Democratic-Republican Party was weakened by the different factions and the situation was made worse following the War of 1812. After the military defeats of the War of 1812 the party split on the issue of national defense. The "Young" faction including Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams and John C. Calhoun, became nationalists and wanted to build a strong national defense. The "Old Republican" faction led by John Randolph, William H. Crawford and Nathaniel Macon continued to oppose this policy. By 1828, the Old Republicans were supporting Andrew Jackson against Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. The Democratic-Republican party therefore split into two groups: the National Republicans, led by Adams and Clay who became the Whig Party in the 1830s  the Democratic-Republicans were organized by Martin Van Buren, the future eighth president (1837–41), and led by Jackson.

What did the Democratic-Republican Party become?
The Democratic-Republican Party
split into two groups.

  • The first group were Democratic-Republicans organized by Martin Van Buren and led by Andrew Jackson

    • The group dropped the word "Republican" and called themselves simply Democrats and so began the formation of the Democrat Party

  • The second group, led by Adams and Clay, were called the National Republican Party

Democratic-Republican Party - Video of the US Presidents
The article on the History of the Democratic-Republican Party provides a fast overview of the history of the US Government. The following Presidents of the USA video enables you to sit back and listen to the history of all the Presidents of the USA - a useful educational resource for kids, children and schools that complements the information found in the History of the Democratic-Republican Party.




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