The Democratic-Republican Party was an early political party in the United States, originally led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the 1790s in opposition to the Federalist Party and the ideas of Alexander Hamilton. Although the party was also known as the Republican Party and the Jeffersonian Republican Party, in fact it was the prototype of today’s Democratic Party. The philosophy of the Democratic-Republican Party favored states’ rights, rather than a strong national government; rural, agricultural interests, and supported the legitimacy of the French Revolution. The party opposed close ties with Britain.
In 1796 Thomas Jefferson was the first Democratic-Republican candidate to run for president. Jefferson lost to Federalist John Adams, but became vice-president, creating the only administration with a president and a vice-president from different parties. In the election of 1800, Jefferson defeated Adams and became the first Democratic-Republican president. Jefferson was followed as president by two more Democratic-Republicans, James Madison in 1809 and James Monroe in 1817. By 1820 the Federalist Party ceased to function as a party in national elections. At about the same time, the Democratic-Republican Party started to split into sections. One section, led by Andrew Jackson, took the Democratic-Republican name, while supporters of John Quincy Adams, elected president in 1824, became known as the National Republicans. By the time Jackson was elected president in 1828, the name Democratic-Republican Party had been shortened to Democratic Party.