The Jeffersonian Republican party, better known as the Democratic-Republican Party, is an ancestor of the modern Democratic Party. It evolved in the 1790s during the early days of George Washington's presidency. Washington had been unanimously chosen president in 1789 and had a broad base of support. Thomas Jefferson served as Washington's Secretary of State, whileAlexander Hamilton served as secretary of the treasury. Jefferson and his followers favored states' rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. They believed that a powerful central government posed a threat to individual liberties. They viewed the United States more as a confederation of sovereign entities woven together by a common interest. Hamilton and his followers argued that a strong central government was essential to the unity of the new nation. They favored a broad interpretation of the Constitution, which they saw as a document that should evolve with the country as it grew.
Virtually all the leading political figures of the new country, starting with Washington, believed that political parties would polarize citizens and paralyze government. Hamilton and Jefferson agreed with this notion, but by 1793 the two groups that they represented had broken off into separate factions. Hamilton's group became the Federalists, while Jefferson's faction adopted the name "Democratic Republicans."
One early and divisive difference between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans was how they approached Britain and France. The Federalists believed that American foreign policy should favor British interests, while the Democratic-Republicans wanted to strengthen ties with the French. The Democratic-Republicans supported the government that had taken over France after the revolution of 1789.
On economic matters, the Jeffersonians differed strongly with the Federalists. The Democratic-Republicans believed in protecting the interests of the working classes