Although considered one of the two parties, along with the Federalists, making up the first American party system, the Democratic-Republicans were not initially a fully formed political party. Known also as the Jeffersonian Republicans, the Democratic-Republicans became a political force during George Washington's first term as president. They were a loosely affiliated coalition of American politicians that coalesced around Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in opposition to Alexander Hamilton's fiscal policy and the Washington's administration purported support of Great Britain in the wars of the French Revolution. The party became more unified as the unofficial opposition to John Adams' presidency, resulting in Thomas Jefferson's election as president in 1800. Having seized the presidency, the party did not give it up until Andrew Jackson's election in 1828. During that time, the Federalist Party collapsed, ushering in one-party rule under the so-called "Era of Good Feeling" after James Monroe's election in 1816. With the Federalists Party a spent force on the federal level, the Republicans became less of an ideologically centered party and instead only loosely coalesced around Jeffersonian ideas of agrarianism, small government, and western expansion. Over time, its members incorporated some of the Federalists' ideas, such as internal improvements and a national bank. This resulted in the Jacksonian revolt following John Quincy Adams' 1824 election, the splintering of the Democratic-Republican consensus, and the rise of the second party system.
Norman K. Risjord, "Early Republic, Era of the," The Oxford Companion to United States History, ed. by Paul S. Boyer (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 201-3; Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 229-347.