The Democratic-Republican party was a United States political party, which evolved early in the history of the United States. In addition, some refer to the party as the Jeffersonian Republicans since Thomas Jefferson belonged to the party and had a major influence on its ideology; it is also referred to as simply the Republican Party, not to be confused with the modern Republican Party. This party should not be confused with Jeffersonian democracy, a term used to indicate the period when the government was run by aristocratic learned men, as opposed to the period of Jacksonian democracy where the common man ran the government.
The origins of this party lie in the Anti-Federalist Party, the group that opposed the adoption of the United States Constitution and insisted on the Bill of Rights. After the Federalist presidency of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson became the first Democratic-Republican President.
For a brief period, the Democratic-Republican Party was the sole dominant party in U.S. politics. At its apex, James Monroe ran virtually unopposed in the 1820 presidential election. This period was known as the Era of Good Feeling. Shortly afterward, the party would split into two factions: the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, which was formed from the anti-Jackson coalition.
The following United States Presidents were members of the Democratic-Republican party:
- Thomas Jefferson (1801 - 1809)
- James Madison (1809 - 1817)
- James Monroe (1817-1825)
- John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
The stature of the Presidents who identified themselves with the Democratic-Republican Party during its heyday makes it an enviable institution for modern political parties to identify themselves with. As a result, both major political parties today identify themselves with the party.
As noted above, the Democratic Party is a direct descendant of the Democratic-Republican Party. The Republican Party also sees itself as a spiritual descendant of the Democratic-Republicans, though it has much looser ties from their broad base of former Whig voters and politicians. Neither the modern-day Democratic nor Republican party has identifiable ties to the Federalist Party, which was the only opposition party to the original Democratic-Republican party.