Before the elevation of John Quincy Adams to the presidency in 1825, the Democratic-Republican Party, which had been the only national American political party for over a decade, began to fracture, losing its infrastructure and identity. Its caucuses no longer met to select candidates because now they had separate interests. After the 1824 election, factions developed in support of Adams and in support of Andrew Jackson. Adams politicians, including most ex Federalists (such as Daniel Webster and Adams himself), would gradually evolve into the National Republican Party; and those politicians that supported Jackson would later help form the modern Democratic Party.
The ad hoc coalition that supported Adams fell apart after his defeat for reelection in 1828. The main opposition to Jackson—the new President—was the National Republican Party (the Anti-Jacksonians), created and run by Henry Clay. It shared the same nationalistic outlook as the Adamsites and wanted to use national resources to build a strong economy. Its platform was Clay's American System of nationally financed internal improvements and a protective tariff, which would promote faster economic development. More important, by binding together the diverse interests of the different regions, the party intended to promote national unity and harmony.
The National Republicans saw the Union as a corporate, organic whole. Hence, the rank and file idealized Clay for his comprehensive perspective on the national interest. Conversely, they disdained those they identified as "party" politicians for pandering to local interests at the expense of the national interest. The party met in national convention in late 1831 and nominated Clay for the presidency and John Sergeant for the vice presidency.
The Whig Party emerged in 1833–1834 after Clay's defeat as a coalition of National Republicans, along with Anti-Masons, disaffected Jacksonians and people whose last political activity was with the Federalists a decade before. In the short term, it formed the Whig Party with the help of other smaller parties in a coalition against President Jackson and his reforms.