The Structure Of The Libertarian Party

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists and people who no longer held the same beliefs as the nation’s two main political parties: the Democrats and the Whigs. The Republican Party was founded on the belief that all men deserve freedom.

Originally considered a third party, the political party grew to prominence in 1860 with the election of Republican President Abraham Lincoln. Since then, the party has become one of the nation’s two main political parties and has had a major influence on American politics.

Did You Know

Did you know that the Republican Party chose its name because the term “Republican” alluded to equality and reminded party members of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party?

The Republican Party: The Early Years

The first official meeting of the Republican Party was held on July 6, 1854, in Jackson, Mich. Two years later, the political party became a national party when John C. Fremont became a Republican candidate for the office of the president of the United States.

Although Fremont lost the race, his race for office gained attention and followers for the Republican Party.

In 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln sought the presidency as a Union candidate and won. Eleven southern states immediately seceded, which gave Republicans federal government control.

As president, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. Under Lincoln, a wider Republican Party platform also developed. The platform focused on the following:

  • an improved transportation system, namely, funding for a transcontinental railroad
  • increased taxation (tariffs) on imported goods
  • the Homestead Act, which originated from individuals who wanted public lands donated to U.S. citizens for development
  • the Morrill Land Grant Act, which provided a basis for donating public lands to colleges with an emphasis on the mechanical arts and agriculture
  • support for a national banking system.

Though Abraham Lincoln was able to further the party’s platform, his presidency also saw the Republican Party become deeply divided during the Civil War. As the Civil War came to an end, wide chasms existed between radicals and moderates over rebuilding the South.

On April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died, the victim of assassination.Following Lincoln’s death, Andrew Johnson became president, helping to guide the emancipation process on a moderate platform.

The Republican Party in the Gilded Age

During the Gilded Age, from the 1870s to the 1890s,industrialization began to influence American politics. During this time, America saw a return to a Democratic presidency only twice. In many parts of the country, Republican and Democratic viewpoints converged, especially when it came to business development.

With the election of President William McKinley in 1896, the Republican Party continued its stronghold on both houses of Congress. The McKinley assassination in 1901 introduced Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency. As a progressive Republican, he favored a platform that included relaxed labor views and opposition to business monopolies.

With the election of William Howard Taft in 1908, the Republican Party saw a return to conservatism. This led to further party division. The Progressive Party formed as a result, but it had little success against both the Democrats and Republicans.

The Republicans: The Wars and the Great Depression

Following the double terms of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republicans reentered the White House from 1920 to 1932. World War I again brought a division in political circles, especially as Republican progressives began to lose their impact. During this era, the economy boom contributed to a rise in power under the leadership of Republican Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

Republicans saw an abrupt drop in dominance with the beginning of the Great Depression. Government was slow to react to a tragic economical downturn, and, by 1932, America raced toward Democratic rule. For the next 20 years, Republicans endured a fall from favor.

The Republican Party: 1952 to Present

Dwight D. Eisenhower brought new Republican Party influence to the nation with a presidential win in 1952. Eisenhower held a strong stance against anti-communism and was a proponent of lowering taxes for the rich. As a result, middle-class support for the Republican Party began to swell.

In January 1969, Richard M. Nixon regained the White House for Republicans. Republicans did not, however, have control of either House. Significant strength came once again with the Reagan-Bush ticket in 1984. This presidency enjoyed great popularity amid an economic rebound and a beefed-up military.

In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush, son of the 41st president, won the presidential election. Bush brought a strong Republican platform of bold ideas and a promise to follow through on a strong and conservative agenda.

Today, the Republican Party maintains its official commitment to American citizens and continues to focus on the growth and prosperity of the United States.