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The Democratic-Republican party (or Anti-Federalist Party) was a US
political party, which evolved early in US history. In addition, some refer
to the party as the Jeffersonian Republicans since Thomas Jefferson belonged
to the party.
During the revolution, this group had become known as the Federalists, since
they advocated a federation, as opposed to a centrally governed state, which
was favored by the nationalists. During the debate over the proposed
constitution, however, the nationalists became known as federalists, and the
federalists became known as anti-federalists. The party was formed because
of opposition to the centralized federal controls proposed by Alexander
Hamilton and the Federalist Party in the original United States
Initially, the anti-Federalists were led by famous revolutionary figures
such as Patrick Henry. They believed that the Constitution was a threat to
the rights of individuals and argued that the president would be nothing but
a king. In addition, many of the anti-Federalists objected to the federal
court system created by the proposed constitution. One should not make the
mistake of believing that the anti-federalists thought that the central
government created under the Articles of Confederation was sufficient,
however. The anti-Federalists believed that the central government in the
articles was too weak, but believed the Constitution had given the central
government too much power.
They anti-federalists initialy lost the debate, as the constitution was
submitted to the states for approval in 1787. This was partly due to the
fact that the nationalists were supported by George Washington, who many
believed to be the nation's greatest hero.
Later, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, who was assited by James
Madison, however, the anti-Federalists were able to pass the Bill of Rights,
amending the constitution to provide individuals and states with more
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
1. Thomas Jefferson (1801 - 1809)
2. James Madison (1809 - 1817)
3. James Monroe (1817-1825)
4. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
Modern Claims To Democratic-Republican Heritage
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