A Party is Born to Fight Slavery
The Grand Old Party (GOP), also known as the Republican Party, was formally organized in July 1854. It was the result of a group of abolitionists, a coalition of “Conscience Whigs” and “Free Soil Democrats” who gathered in a schoolhouse in Wisconsin in March of 1854 to fight expansion of slavery via the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act sought to open the Kansas and Nebraska territories to future admission as slave states.
This act would have repealed the prohibition on slavery in the northern latitudes as established by the Missouri Compromise. The Republican party was committed to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and believed in the “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” approach which would give free land in the western territories to farmers rather than slave owners, while supporting the belief that free-market labor was better than slave labor.
First Republican Conventions
The first state-wide Republican convention was held in Michigan on July 6, 1854 and included a platform and nominated candidates with the name “Republican.” The first Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1856. The party’s views on slavery kept the Republican party from gaining strength in the South for quite some time.
The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, was elected in 1860. At that time, the party was pro-business, supporting banks, the gold standard, railroads, and tariffs to protect industrial workers and industry and opposing slavery. In 1864 the Republican National Convention called for the end of slavery and the 13th Amendment was passed unanimously by all Congressional Republicans with few supporting Democratic votes.
The Republican Symbol
The Republican symbol of the Elephant originated during the 1860, and was made popular in this Thomas Nast cartoon representing the party’s strength:
Supporting and Encouraging Minorities
Historically, it was the Republican Party which included minorities, against the protests of Democrats.
In 1869, the Wyoming’s Territory, led by a Republican governor, was the first jurisdiction to grant voting rights to women. The 19th Amendment was written by a Republican Senator and was supported more by Republicans than Democrats.
The first Hispanic governor was a Republican in California. Black Republicans constituted all of the African-American Representatives in the House prior to 1935 and all of the African-American Senators prior to 1979. The first woman in Congress was a Republican, as was the first Jewish Senator. The first American Indian to hold an elected national office (who also represented the first individual not of European ancestry to hold such a post) was Charles Curtis, a Republican who became the Vice President of the United States alongside Herbert Hoover after serving as Senate Majority Leader. The first Asian-American Senator was a Republican, as was the first woman on the Supreme Court.
Boyle County Republican Party History
If you would like to learn more about the local GOP, peruse our Boyle County GOP Digital Scrapbook! If you have information you would like to share for us to upload to our local history pages, contact us! We are trying to build a repository for all things Republican here in Boyle County for ourselves and for future generations!