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The Democratic-Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as the “Republican Party” (not related to the present-day Republican Party) in 1792, was the dominant political party in the United States from 1800 until the 1820s, when it split into competing factions, one of which became the modern-day Democratic Party. Its members identified the party as the Republicans, Jeffersonians, Democrats,[1] or combinations of these (such as Jeffersonian republicans).[2] Historians use the term “Democratic Republican Party” to describe this party.

Jefferson and Madison created the party in order to oppose the economic and foreign policies of the Federalists, a party created a year or so earlier by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Foreign policy issues were central; the party opposed the Jay Treaty of 1794 with Britain (then at war with France) and supported good relations with France before 1801. The party insisted on a strict construction of the Constitution, and denounced many of Hamilton’s proposals (especially the national bank) as unconstitutional. The party promoted states’ rights and the primacy of the yeoman farmer over bankers, industrialists, merchants, and other monied interests. From 1792 to 1816 the party opposed such Federalist policies as high tariffs, a navy, military spending, a national debt, and a national bank. After the military defeats of the War of 1812, however, the party split on these issues. Many younger party leaders, notably Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams and John C. Calhoun, became nationalists and wanted to build a strong national defense.[3] Meanwhile, the “Old Republican” faction led by John Randolph of Roanoke, William H. Crawford and Nathaniel Macon continued to oppose these policies. By 1828, the Old Republicans were supporting Andrew Jackson against Clay and Adams.

The party’s elected presidents were Thomas Jefferson (1800 and 1804), James Madison (1808 and 1812), and James Monroe (1816 and 1820). The party soon dominated Congress and most state governments outside of New England. By 1820, the Federalists were no longer acting as a national party; there was little to hold the Democratic-Republican Party together. William H. Crawford in 1824 was the last nominee by the Congressional nominating caucus; but the majority of the party boycotted the caucus. Crawford finished fourth in the election that year, behind John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. The Democratic-Republican party split into various factions during the 1824 election, some of which formed the Democratic Party.


Madison started the party among Congressmen in Philadelphia (the national capital) as the republican party [4]; then he, Jefferson, and others reached out to include state and local leaders around the country, especially New York and the South.[5] The precise date of founding is disputed, but 1792 is a reasonable estimate; some time in the early 1790s is certain. The new party set up newspapers that made withering critiques of Hamiltonianism, extolled the yeomen farmer, argued for strict construction of the Constitution, supported neutral relations with European powers, and called for stronger state governments than the Federalist Party was proposing.[6]

Presidential elections of 1792 and 1796

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.[7]

In 1796, 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 and became vice president. He was a consistent and strong opponent of the policies of the Adams administration.

Jefferson and Madison, through the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, announced the “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, skepticism in regard to the federal courts, and opposition to a Navy and a National Bank. The party saw itself as a champion of republicanism and viewed its opponents as supporters of the aristocracy, not of the people.

The party itself originally coalesced around Jefferson, who diligently maintained extensive correspondence with like-minded republican leaders throughout the country.[8] Washington frequently decried the growing sense of “party” emerging from the internal battles between Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams and others in his administration. As tensions in Europe increased, the two factions increasingly found themselves on different sides of foreign policy issues, with the Republicans favoring neutral ties with both France and England. The Republicans opposed Hamilton’s national bank and his belief that a national debt was good for the country. They strongly distrusted the elitism of Hamilton’s circle, denouncing it as “aristocratic”; and they called for state’s rights. Above all they disagreed with Hamilton’s sense of the Constitution as an elastic, growing document. They feared this interpretation would allow the national government to centralize power.

The fierce debate over the Jay Treaty in 1794–95, 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.”[9]

Party strength in Congress

Historians have used statistical techniques to estimate the party breakdown in Congress. Many Congressmen were hard to classify in the first few years, but after 1796 there was less uncertainty.

Election year
House 1788 1790 1792 1794 1796 1798 1800 1802 1804 1806
 % Democratic-Republican 43% 43% 51% 56% 46% 43% 63% 73% 82% 83%
 % Democratic-Republican 31% 45% 47% 34% 31% 31% 53% 74% 71% 82%

Source: Kenneth C. Martis, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989 (1989); the numbers are estimates by historians.

The affiliation of many Congressmen in the earliest years is an assignment by later historians; these were slowly coalescing groups with initially considerable independent thinking and voting; Cunningham noted that only about a quarter of the House of Representatives, up till 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. Albert Gallatin recalled only two caucuses on legislative policy between 1795 and 1801, one over appropriations for Jay’s Treaty, the other over the Quasi-War, and in neither case did the party decide to vote unanimously.[10]

Organizational strategy

The new party invented some of the 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. 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; they were, he wrote, “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.”[11]

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 propogandists included editor William Duane and party leaders Albert Gallatin, Thomas Cooper and Jefferson himself.[12]

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). He 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.[13]

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 Democratic-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 Democratic-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 send 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.[14] 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

Election of 1800

The party’s electors secured a majority in the 1800 election, but by an oversight, 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. Finally Hamilton, believing that Burr would be a poor choice for president, arranged for Jefferson to win. 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; they were stunned when party leaders started a Second Bank of the United States in 1816.

In 1804, the party’s Congressional caucus for the first time created a sort of national committee, with members from 13 states charged with “promoting the success of the republican nominations.”[15] That committee later was disbanded and did not become permanent. Unlike the Federalists, the party never held a national convention, but relied instead on its Congressional caucus to select the national ticket. That caucus, however, did not deal with legislative issues, which were handled by the elected Speaker and informal floor leaders. 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.[16]

The opposition Federalist Party, suffering from a lack of leadership after the collapse of Hamilton and the retirement of John Adams, quickly declined; 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.

Monroe and Adams, 1816-1828

In rapidly expanding western states, the Federalists had few supporters. Every state had a distinct political geography that shaped party membership. In Pennsylvania, the Democratic-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.[17] After the War of 1812, partisanship subsided across the young republic—people called it the Era of Good Feeling. 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; 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. 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”, who remained committed to states’ rights and the Principles of 1798, and distrustful of the nationalizing program promoted by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Following the lead of former Crawford supporter Martin Van Buren, the Old Republicans mostly supported Andrew Jackson by the late 1820s.

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

“ An opinion prevails that there is no longer any distinction, that the republicans & Federalists are compleatly 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.[18]

In the aftermath of the disputed 1824 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:

“ 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 the Administration. It becomes thus impossible to fill any appointment without offending one half of the community—the federalists, if their associate is overlooked; the Republicans, if he is preferred.[19]

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. The Jacksonians, under the leadership of Martin Van Buren, built strong state and local organizations throughout the country. President Adams was defeated by Andrew Jackson in the election of 1828.

Party name

The name of the party evolved over time. Party members in the 1790s called themselves “Republicans” and voted for what they called the “Republican Party,” “republican ticket,” or the “republican interest”; occasionally other names were used.[20] Both “Federalist” and “Republican” were positive terms in the 1790s, and both parties sometimes claimed the terms; so Republicans occasionally called themselves “Federalist” and “Federalist Republicans.”[21]

The term “Republican” emphasizes devotion to the ideals of republicanism. The word “republican” was used by most Americans in the late 18th century to desceribe the new nation’s political values, especially its devotion to opposition to corruption, elitism, and monarchies;[22] Jefferson used the term “Republican Party,” meaning those in Congress who were his allies, and supported the existing republican Constitution, in a letter to Washington as early as May 1792.[23] From 1794 through 1823, Jefferson and Madison routinely used the term “republican” and the “Republican party.”[24][25][26][27][28]

In pre-existing usage, “party,” where it did not have the overt negative sense of “faction,” often meant a loose coalition or collective political influence; the Democratic-Republicans included some personal or single-issue state organizations, like the Clintonians of New York or the “correspondents” of Pennsylvania. They continued to be sometimes referred to by personal names; not merely Jefferson, but also Madison (perhaps more frequently), William Branch Giles, and Charles Pinckney.[29]

Their Federalist opponents often called them “Democrats” or “Jacobins” as an insult, referring to mob rule or to The Terror stage of the French Revolution; although “democrat” and “republican” had been used almost equivalently in 1792-3 (and, for the political philosophy, earlier.)[30] A Democratic society cited a dictionary to argue they were the same in 1794.[31] In 1798 former President George Washington wrote, “You could as soon 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.”[32] Equally, the Democratic-Republicans called the Federalist opponents “aristocrats,” “monarchists,” and “monarcrats,” decrying Hamilton’s (prior) openly professed adoration of Britain and the British governing structure.[33] After 1802, some local organizations slowly began merging “Democratic” into their own name and became known as the “Democratic Republicans.”[34] A few members of the Party were even referring to themselves as Democrats by 1812.[35]

Gammon (1922) claimed, “Party nomenclature began to take distinctive shape, locally at least, during the campaign of 1824. At the beginning of that contest the one party name in existence was ‘Republican.'”[36] The term “National Republican” was first applied to the Adams-Clay faction in New York during the latter stages of the campaign of 1824. In New York state politics, the name “Democratic” was revived in 1824. In 1818, there had been a split in the New York Democratic-Republican Party, with DeWitt Clinton leading one faction and Martin Van Buren the other. The latter faction was dubbed by its enemies the “Bucktails,” and about the same time began to refer to itself as the “Democratic” party. The term “Republican,” however, was still used to indicate both “Bucktails” and Clintonians.

James Wilson used “democractical” in juxtaposition to “monarchial” or “despotic” in one speech to describe the new Constitution to the Pennsylvania Convention in 1787.[37] According to American lexicographer (and Federalist), Noah Webster, the choice of the name was “…a powerful instrument in the process of making proselytes to the party. The influence of names on the mass of mankind, was never more distinctly exhibited, than in the increase of the democratic party in the United States. The popularity of the denomination of the republican party, was more than a match for the popularity of Washington’s character and services, and contributed to overthrow his administration.”[38]

A related grass roots movement, the Democratic-Republican Societies arose in 1793–94; the use of “democratic” was supported by the French minister, Citizen Genet, a Girondin. It was not formally affiliated with the new party; though some local Jeffersonian republican leaders were also leaders of the societies. There were some three dozen of these societies; they did not nominate tickets or attempt to control legislatures, as the Republicans did.[39] The Federalists soon denounced the Democratic-Republican Societies .

Both “Federalist” and “Republican” were positive words in the 1790s, and both parties sometimes claimed them; so Republicans occasionally called themselves “Federalist” and “Federalist Republicans.”[40] The party also came to call itself “Democratic Republicans” as well as “Republicans” during Madison’s term of office; some members called themselves “Democrats.”[41]

Claims to the party’s heritage

The Democratic Party is often called “the party of Jefferson,” while the modern Republican Party is often called “the party of Lincoln.” The modern party system with a liberal, economically populist Democratic Party and a conservative, free market-oriented Republican Party did not arise until the early twentieth century, when the Republican Party divided into a conservative wing and a progressive or Bull Moose wing, which coalesced with the Democrats in the New Deal.

The Democratic-Republican party split into various factions during the 1824 election, based more on personality than on ideology. When the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, House Speaker Henry Clay backed Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to deny the presidency to Senator Andrew Jackson, a longtime personal rival and a hero of the War of 1812. Jackson’s political views were unknown at the time. At first, the various factions continued to view themselves as Republicans. Jackson’s supporters were called “Jackson Men,” while Adams supporters were called “Adams Men.”

The Jacksonians held their first national convention as the “Republican Party” in 1832.[42] By the mid-1830s, they referred to themselves as the “Democratic Party,” although they also continued to use the name “Democratic Republicans” and the name was not officially changed until 1844.[43]

Many politicians of the Democratic Party have emphasized their party’s lineage to Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party. Martin Van Buren wrote in his Inquiry Into the Origin and Course of Political Parties in the United States that the party’s name had changed from Republican to Democratic and that Jefferson was the founder of the party.[44] Thomas Jefferson Randolph, the eldest grandson of Jefferson, gave a speech at the 1872 Democratic National Convention and said that he had spent eighty years of his life in the Democratic-Republican Party.[45]

The Adams/Clay alliance became the basis of the National Republican Party, a rival to the Jacksonian party. This party favored a higher tariff to protect U.S. manufacturers, as well as public works, especially roads. 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. Taking a leaf from the Jacksonians, the Whigs tended to nominate non-ideological war heroes as their presidential candidates.

The modern Republican Party was founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party. Most northern Whigs soon defected to the new party. The name was chosen to harken back to Jeffersonian ideals of liberty and equality, but not those of limited government or states’ rights, ideals that Abraham Lincoln and many members of the new party sought to revive together with Clay’s program of using an active government to modernize the economy.[46]

In 1991 the United States Senate passed by voice vote “A bill to establish a commission to commemorate the bicentennial of the establishment of the Democratic Party of the United States.” It was introduced by Democratic Senator Terry Sanford and cosponsored by 56 Senators.[47]

The Jefferson Republican Party claims to be the modern party closest in ideology to the Democratic-Republican Party and bases its platform on the writings of Jefferson. Several other parties, including the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party, also lay claim to his heritage.

Party presidents

The following United States Presidents were elected following a process that selected them as a national nominee of the Democratic-Republican party:

In addition, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson identified themselves and their administrations as Democratic-Republican, but ran in elections where opponents were also identified as Democratic-Republican.


Election year Result Nominees
1792 lost (none) George Clinton
1796 lost(a) Thomas Jefferson Aaron Burr
1800 won(b)
1804 won George Clinton
1808 won James Madison
1812 won Elbridge Gerry
1816 won James Monroe Daniel Tompkins
1820 won
1824 lost(c) William H. Crawford Albert Gallatin
  • (a) 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.
  • (b) Jefferson and Burr received the same total of electoral votes. Jefferson was subsequently chosen as president by the House of Representatives.
  • (c) Crawford and Gallatin were nominated by a small group of their supporters in Congress. Gallatin later withdrew from the contest. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay also ran as Republicans, although they were not nominated by a 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.
  • References

    • Henry Adams, History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1889; Library of America ed. 1986)
    • Henry Adams, 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, William 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)
    • 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 (1889-91)


  • 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 (Jan. 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

    • 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
    • The complete text, searchable, of all early American newspapers are online at Readex America’s Historical Newspapers, available at research libraries.

    Primary sources

    • 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 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)


    1. ^ Address of the Republican committee of the County of Gloucester, New-Jersey … Gloucester County, December 15, 1800 and the last nominating caucus of the Party. (February 6, 1824) “Anti Caucus/Caucus“. Washington Republican. 
    2. ^ Mathews, Dictionary of Americanisms (1951)
    3. ^ Wiltse (1944), Chapters 8–11.
    4. ^ 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 it’s present form, are fewer in number. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists,…”
      *Thomas Jefferson to John Melish, January 13, 1813. “The party called republican is steadily for the support of the present constitution”
    5. ^ Chambers, 81–91.
    6. ^ Cornell.
    7. ^ Elkins and McKitrick, 288.
    8. ^ Onuf.
    9. ^ Chambers, 80.
    10. ^ Cunningham (1957), 82.
    11. ^ Cunningham (1957), 167.
    12. ^ Tinkcom, 271.
    13. ^ Cunningham (1956), 40–52.
    14. ^ Cunningham (1963), 129.
    15. ^ Cunningham (1978). The Process of Government Under Jefferson, 278–279.
    16. ^ Cunningham (1978). The Process of Government Under Jefferson, 288.
    17. ^ Klein, 44.
    18. ^ Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, October 27, 1822. Retrieved on 200610-02. 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.
    19. ^ Adams, 207–208.
    20. ^ Cunningham (1957) provides original quotes and documents from various states on pages 48, 63-66, 97, 99, 103, 110, 111, 112, 144, 151, 153, 156, 157, 161, 163, 188, 196, 201, 204, 213, 218 and 234.
    21. ^ Cunningham (1957), p. 111, 218. Conversely, the Federalist ticket in Pennsylvania in 1796 was called “Federalist and Republican” and similar forms were used elsewhere; the Virginia Federalists called themselves the “American Republican Ticket” in 1800.
    22. ^ Banning, 79–90.
    23. ^ Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, May 23, 1792. Retrieved on 200610-04. 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
    24. ^ James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, March 2, 1794. Retrieved on 200610-14. “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.
    25. ^ James Madison to William Hayward, March 21, 1809. Address to the Republicans of Talbot Co. Maryland. Retrieved on 200610-27.
    26. ^ Thomas Jefferson to John Melish, January 13, 1813. Retrieved on 200610-27. “The party called republican is steadily for the support of the present constitution”
    27. ^ James Madison to Baltimore Republican Committee, April 22, 1815. Retrieved on 200610-27.
    28. ^ James Madison to William Eustis, May 22, 1823. Retrieved on 200610-27. 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.”
    29. ^ Cunningham (1957), 35–39. 68, 189
    30. ^ Dahl, Robert A.. “James Madison: Republican or Democrat?“. Perspectives on Politics (Volume 3, Issue 03, Sep 2005).  and Dumas Malone, Jefferson, 3:162
    31. ^ New York City Democratic Society Address, May 28, 1794. Retrieved 200703-16.
    32. ^ George Washington to James McHenry, September 30, 1798. Retrieved on 200610-12. Transcript.
    33. ^ Thomas Jefferson to William Short, January 8, 1825. Retrieved on 200610-30. “At my own table in presence of Mr. Adams, Knox, Randolph, and myself, in a dispute between Mr. Adams and himself, he avowed his preference of monarchy over every other government and his opinion that the English was the most perfect model of government ever devised by the wit of man, Mr. Adams agreeing if it’s corruptions were done away, while Hamilton insisted that with these corruptions it was perfect, and without them it would be an impracticable government!”
    34. ^ Some “Democratic Republican” examples: 1802, 1803, 1804, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809
    35. ^ Madison Papers:Presidential series: 5:147; August 11, 1812
    36. ^ Gammon, 155-156. In example: “Anti-Caucus/Caucus“, Washington Republican, February 6, 1824. 
    37. ^ Dahl, Robert A.. “James Madison: Republican or Democrat?“. Perspectives on Politics (Volume 3, Issue 03, Sep 2005): 439-448.  covers all this, and cites Wilson’s speech to the Pennsylvania ratifying convention
    38. ^ Miller, 320.
    39. ^ Cunningham (1957) 62-64
    40. ^ Cunningham (1957), p. 111, 218. Conversely, the Federalist ticket in Pennsylvania in 1796 was called “Federalist and Republican,” and similar forms were used elsewhere; the Virginia Federalists called themselves the “American Republican Ticket” in 1800.
    41. ^ See, for example, Madison Papers: Presidential Series, V, p. 147, August 11, 1812
    42. ^ (1832) Summary Of The Proceedings Of A Convention Of Republican Delegates, From The Several States In The Union, For The Purpose of Nominating A Candidate For The Office Of Vice-President Of The United States; Held At Baltimore, In The State Of Maryland, May, 1832. Albany: Packard and Van Benthuysen. 
    43. ^ For example, see Madison’s letter of August 18, 1834, endorsing John Mercer Patton. Madison: Letters and Other Writings (1865) IV, 348-349; see also examples: 1834, 1834, 1840, 1841.
    44. ^ Van Buren, 5, 242, 270, 383, 424.
    45. ^ (1872) Official Proceedings of the National Democratic Convention, Held at Baltimore, July 9, 1872. Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, Printers, 5–6. 
    46. ^ Gould, 14.
    47. ^ S. 2047, 102nd Cong., 1st Sess.. Retrieved on 200608-10. See also: Senate Floor Remarks of May 13, 1992. “The Birth of the Democratic Party,” essay by Wayne Goodwin in the Congressional Record of June 4, 1992.

    8 Responses to “Democratic-Republican Party”

    1. 1 Federal Farmer October 14, 2009 at 3:45 am

      Interesting posting. If you are interested in federalism, you might be interested in my post on it. See:

    2. 2 euandus3 October 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm

      Interesting history! I’ve just posted on federalism and big business. If you are interested, pls see:

    3. 3 jak poderwac July 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm

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    4. 4 nicholaspopov January 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” – Thomas Jefferson

      The development of civilization makes democracy and the humanization of society inevitable. The best minds tirelessly look for a new and effective political form of government that would adequately represent today’s changing society. The solution is near and the necessary resources to establish a new form of government are already available in society.

      A new, multipolar political system as a real democratic revolution.

    1. 1 On the Eve of Destruction « Suzie-Q Trackback on October 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm
    2. 2 On the Eve of Destruction « Friends of the American Revolution Trackback on October 22, 2007 at 2:10 pm
    3. 3 John Adams’s Prayer: May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this Roof « Suzie-Q Trackback on October 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm
    4. 4 John Adams’s Prayer: May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this Roof « Friends of the American Revolution Trackback on October 23, 2007 at 6:57 am

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