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The term Quids (or tertium quids or Old Republicans) refers to various factions of the Jeffersonian Republican party during the First Party System, especially 1804-1812. In Latin, the term tertium quid means "a third something". Quid was a disparaging term that referred to cross-party coalitions of Federalists and moderate Republicans.


Between 1801 and 1806 rival factions of Jeffersonian Republicans in Philadelphia engaged in intense public debate and vigorous political competition that pitted radical democrats against moderates who defended the traditional rights of the propertied classes. The radicals, led by William Duane, publisher of the Jeffersonian Aurora, agitated for legislative reforms that would increase popular representation and the power of the poor and laboring classes. Moderates successfully outmaneuvered their radical opponents and kept the Pennsylvania legislature friendly to emergent liberal capitalism. The term was first used in 1804, referring to the moderates, especially a faction of the Republican party calling itself "the Society of Constitutional Republicans." They gathered Federalist support and in 1805 re-elected Governor Thomas McKean, who had been elected by a united Republican party in 1802, but had broken with the majority wing of the party.[1]

New York

In New York state the term was applied to the Republican faction that remained loyal to Governor Morgan Lewis after he was repudiated by the Republican majority led by DeWitt Clinton. The two "quid" factions had no connection with one other at the federal level; both supported President Thomas Jefferson.


When Virginia Congressman John Randolph of Roanoke broke with Jefferson and James Madison in 1806, his Congressional faction was called "quids." Randolph was the leader of the "Old Republican" faction that insisted on strict adherence to the Constitution and opposed any innovations. He made no effort to align with either quid faction in the states and made no effort to build a third party at the federal level. Randolph supported James Monroe against Madison during the runup to the presidential election of 1808, but the state quids supported Madison. They were led by Randolph, who had started as Jefferson's leader in the House and became his bitterest enemy. Randolph denounced the Yazoo Purchase compromise of 1804 as totally corrupt. After Randolph failed in the impeachment of a Supreme Court justice in 1805, he became embittered with Jefferson and Madison, complaining, "Everything and everybody seem to be jumbled out of place, except a few men who are steeped in supine indifference, whilst meddling fools and designing knaves are governing the country."[2] He refused to help fund Jefferson's secret purchase of Florida from Spain. Increasingly, Randolph felt that Jefferson was adopting Federalist policies and betraying the true party spirit. He wrote to an ally that "the Administration....favors federal principles, and, with the exception of a few great rival characters, federal men.... The old Republican party is already ruined, past redemption. New men and new maxims are the order of the day."[3]

The failure of the embargo against Great Britain caused a crisis within the divided Republican Party in 1809. James Madison, a passive leader, wanted Congress to formulate a more vigorous policy. The militant Madison supporters, joined by the "invisibles," urged limited reprisals. However Federalists, Quids (led by Randolph), and conservative Republicans prevented extreme measures. Voting patterns and the militants' diversity indicate that party affiliation was more significant than region. The majority wanted the embargo repealed and Republican unity maintained, but shrank from war and accepted the Non-Intercourse Act (US, 1809). The militants, by suggesting an active policy in 1809, took the first step toward establishing a consensus for war.[4]

Randolph's increasingly strident rhetoric limited his influence, and he was never able to build a coalition to stop Jefferson. However, many of his supporters lived on and, by 1824, looked to Andrew Jackson to resurrect what they called "Old Republicanism."

See also


  • Cunningham, Jr., Noble E. "Who Were the Quids?" in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol. 50, No. 2 (Sep., 1963), pp. 252–263 in JSTOR
  • Phillips, Kim T. "William Duane, Philadelphia's Democratic Republicans, and the Origins of Modern Politics." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 1977 101(3): 365-387. Issn: 0031-4587
  • Risjord, Norman K. The Old Republicans: Southern Conservatism in the Age of Jefferson (1965) the standard history of the Randolph faction. online edition
  • Shankman, Andrew. "Malcontents and Tertium Quids: The Battle to Define Democracy in Jeffersonian Philadelphia" Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 43–72 in JSTOR
  • Stuart, Reginald C. "James Madison and the Militants: Republican Disunity and Replacing the Embargo." Diplomatic History 1982 6(2): 145-167. Issn: 0145-2096 online


  1. Shankman (1999); Phillips (1977)
  2. Risjord p. 42
  3. Risjord 47
  4. Stuart (1982)