Sunday, January 11, 2009

History Of The Republican Party

History Of The Republican Party


The Republican party is popularly known as the GOP, from its earlier nickname of the Grand Old Party. From its first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, in 1856, through Republican George W Bush in 2000, Republicans have occupied the White House for 84 years. Originally, Republican strength came primarily from New England and the Midwest. After World War II, however, it greatly increased in the Sunbelt states and the West. Generally speaking, the Republican party is the more conservative of the two major parties, with its support coming from the upper middle class and from the corporate, financial, and farming interests. It has taken political stances generally in favor of laissez-faire, free enterprise, and fiscal responsibility and against the welfare state. It generally believes that less government is better government and that government should only intervene where the individual is incapable of helping him/her self.

The Founding of the Party

The Republican party grew out of the conflicts regarding the expansion of slavery into the new Western territories. The stimulus for its founding was provided by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. That law repealed earlier compromises that had excluded slavery from the territories. The passage of this act served as the unifying agent for abolitionists and split the Democrats and the Whig party. "Anti-Nebraska" protest meetings spread rapidly through the country. Two such meetings were held in Ripon, Wis., on Feb. 28 and Mar. 20, 1854, and were attended by a group of abolitionist Free Soilers, Democrats, and Whigs. They decided to call themselves Republicans-because they professed to be political descendants of Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican party. The name was formally adopted by a state convention held in Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854.

The Republican party was a success from the beginning. In the 1854 congressional elections 44 Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives and several were elected to the Senate and various state houses. In 1856, at the first Republican national convention, Sen. John C. Fremont was nominated for the presidency but was defeated by Democrat James Buchanan.

Two days after the inauguration of James Buchanan, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which was denounced by the Republicans. The split in the Democratic party over the issue of slavery continued, and in 1858 the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time.

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