Timeframe: 1828 - 1836
While Jackson was establishing control over the Democratic Party, the opposition, assuming the name National Republican began to form. In the campaign of 1828, these opposing groups had no official names. Both were Democratic-Republicans and were distinguished by such designations as "administration" and "opposition" or Adams men and Jackson men. About 1830 the term "National Republican" began to be used by the Clay following thus combining the old party name with the adjective which suggested its policies.
The new National Republican group was having its troubles; the Adams-Clay group had never been effectively organized into a party, and after the defeat in 1828 it lapsed into the status of a discredited minority with little strength outside of New England, and only portions of the mid Atlantic states and the Ohio valley could be regarded as fighting ground. National leadership was supplied by the Senate, where Clay joined Webster in 1831. The National Intelligencer was at the center of the opposition, edited by Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton. Soon after Henry Clay had seized upon the Maysville veto, his presidential campaign was underway.
Public meeting halls were filled with his speeches where he reiterated his devotion to the "American System" and criticized the administration and was ready to go before the country with the same policies Adams had favored and the same economic appeal.
The National Republicans took issue with the leading policies and acts of Jackson, as they remained committed to the protective tariff, federal support for internal improvements, the recognition of the Supreme Court on Constitutional questions and the importance of the balance of power given by the Senate. They vigorously attacked Jackson for his spoils system and for his handling of relations with Great Britain with regard to the Maine boundary and West India trade. But the campaign did not turn on these points as other movements such as the Antimasons sprung up. Wirt, the Antimason nominee, probably would have withdrawn had the National Republicans and Antimasons been able to unite later on one man.
The leaders of the National Republican party, such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, would later united in the next elections of 1836 to form an opposition Whig party to attack Jackson’s presidency.