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The Republican Party, often called the GOP (short for “Grand Old Party”) is one of two major political parties in the United States. Founded in 1854 as a coalition opposing the extension of slavery into Western territories, the Republican Party fought to protect the rights of African Americans after the Civil War. Today’s GOP is generally socially conservative, and favors smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes and less federal intervention in the economy.
On July 6, 1854, just after the anniversary of the nation, an anti-slavery state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan. The hot day forced the large crowd outside to a nearby oak grove. At this “Under the Oaks Convention,” the first statewide candidates were selected for what would become the Republican Party.
United by a desire to abolish slavery, it was in Jackson that the Platform of the Under the Oaks Convention read: “…we will cooperate and be known as REPUBLICANS…” Prior to July, smaller groups had gathered in intimate settings like the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. However, the meeting in Jackson would be the first-ever mass gathering of the Republican Party. The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Though popularized in a Thomas Nast cartoon, the GOP’s elephant symbol originated during the 1860 campaign, as a symbol of Republican strength. Republicans envisioned “free soil, free speech, free labor.” Under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the GOP became the Party of the Union as well.
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but it was the entire Republican Party who freed the slaves. The 1864 Republican National Convention called for the abolition of slavery, and Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously, with only a few Democrat votes.
The early women’s rights movement was solidly Republican, as it was a continuation of abolitionism. They were careful not to be overly partisan, but as did Susan B. Anthony, most suffragists favored the GOP. The 19th Amendment was written by a Republican senator and garnered greater support from Republicans than from Democrats.
Low taxes, sound money, regulatory restraint: these were among the commonsense economic policies established by the GOP that brought about decades of prosperity after the Civil War. Republicans encouraged innovation and rule of law. Buttressed by Republican control in Congress, the McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft administrations cleared away obstacles to economic growth.
President Dwight Eisenhower and congressional Republicans appreciated the fact that the private sector, not the government, is the engine of wealth creation. With his bold tax-cutting agenda, President Ronald Reagan revived the economy after years of Democrat malaise.
Theodore Roosevelt embodies our Party’s traditional concern for the environment, but the Republican commitment to the environment actually goes back much further than that. For example, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was established during the Ulysses Grant administration.
President Eisenhower advocated groundbreaking civil rights legislation and vigorously enforced the Brown v Board of Education decision, sending the 101st Airborne to Little Rock when chaos erupted following integration at Central High.
Ronald Reagan explained the difference between Democrats and Republicans in a way that cannot be improved upon: “Two visions of the future, two fundamentally different ways of governing – their government of pessimism, fear, and limits, or ours of hope, confidence, and growth. Their government sees people only as members of groups. Ours serves all the people of America as individuals.
President George H.W. Bush championed community and volunteer organizations and the tremendous power they have for doing good. He famously described them as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”
In the first decade of the 21st century, President George W. Bush made an unprecedented commitment to helping those in need beyond our shores through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an aid program for countries devastated by HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, PEPFAR has saved over a million lives and currently provides over 5 million people with life-saving treatments.
President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush led western democracies to victory over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War. The George W. Bush administration maintained the military second-to-none and projected that power in the fight against international terrorism.
The Republican Party had existed for only six years when Lincoln displaced the Democrats and gave the Republicans their first presidential victory.
The Republican Party was nicknamed the “Grand Old Party” or “GOP” in the 1870s because of its role in keeping the Union together through the Civil War.
The Republican Party is sometimes referred to as the Party of Lincoln because of the role played by the party in getting Lincoln nominated and in abolishing slavery.
The Republican Party was responsible for the push to grant women in America the right to vote.
The first woman to be elected to Congress was Republican Jeannette Rankin.
The elephant became the symbol of the Republican Party when the father of the political cartoon, Thomas Nast, featured an elephant in one of his cartoons.
When the Republican Party was originally formed, they were the majority party in the Northern United States but had very few supporters in the Southern states; this is a trend that has been largely reversed in modern times.
History of the Birth of the Republican Party
February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865 - was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.
April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885 - was an American military officer and politician who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877
October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893 - was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 19th president of the United States from 1877 to 1881, after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and as governor of Ohio.
November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881 - was the 20th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881, until his death six months later—two months after he was shot by an assassin.
October 5, 1829 – November 18, 1886 - was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 21st president of the United States from 1881 to 1885. Previously the 20th U.S. vice president, he succeeded to the presidency upon the death of President James A. Garfield in September 1881, two months after Garfield was shot by an assassin.
August 20, 1833 – March 13, 1901 - was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 23rd president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was a member of the Harrison family of Virginia–a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, and a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father.
January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901 - was the 25th president of the United States, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. As a politician, he led a realignment that made his Republican Party largely dominant in the industrial states and nationwide until the 1930s.
October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919, often referred to as Teddy or by his initials, T. R., was an American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909.
September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930 - was the 27th president of the United States (1909–1913) and the tenth chief justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have held both offices.
November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923 - was the 29th president of the United States, serving from 1921 until his death in 1923.
July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933 - was the 30th president of the United States from 1923 to 1929. Born in Vermont, Coolidge was a Republican lawyer from New England who climbed up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, becoming the state's 48th governor.
August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964 - was an American politician who served as the 31st president of the United States from 1929 to 1933 and a member of the Republican Party, holding office during the onset of the Great Depression in the United States.
October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969 - was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and achieved the five-star rank of General of the Army. He planned and supervised the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–1943 as well as the invasion of Normandy (D-Day) from the Western Front in 1944–1945.
January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994 - was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as a representative and senator from California and was the 36th vice president from 1953 to 1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
July 14, 1913 – December 26, 2006 - was an American politician who served as the 38th president of the United States from 1974 to 1977. He was the only president never to have been elected to the office of president or vice president.
February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004 - was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party from 1962 onward, he also served as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975 after having a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018 - was an American politician, diplomat, and businessman who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan, in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Director of Central Intelligence.
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 - is an American politician who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party, Bush family, and son of the 41st president George H. W. Bush, he previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021 - is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021.
Donald J. Trump was the 45th President of the United States. He believes the United States has incredible potential and will go on to exceed even its remarkable achievements of the past.