Republican Party

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Republican Party
Republicanlogo.svg

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Country United States
Headquarters 310 First Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Website gop.com

The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP (Grand Old Party). The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S. political spectrum and is considered center-right, in contrast to the center-left Democrats.

In the 112th Congress, elected in 2010, the Republican Party holds a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, and a minority of seats in the Senate. The party holds the majority of governorships, as well as the majority of state legislatures, and control of one chamber in five states.

History

Founded in Northern States in 1855 by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soilers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the dominant Democratic Party and the briefly popular Know Nothing Party. Initially, the formation of the Republican Party was championed by Samuel Bowles III, publisher of the influential Springfield, Massachusetts daily newspaper, The Republican.[1] On Friday, Sept. 21, 1855, the headline in The Republican read: “The Child is Born!” This marked the birth of the Republican Party, which took its name from Bowles' newspaper. By 1858, the Republicans had taken control of many Northern States' governments. In 1860, Bowles was on the train to the convention in Chicago. His friend, Springfield lawyer George Ashmun, was elected chairman of the convention that would eventually nominate Abraham Lincoln for president.[2] The Republican Party first came to power in 1860 with the election of Lincoln to the Presidency and Republicans in control of Congress and the northern states. It oversaw the saving of the union, the destruction of slavery, and the provision of equal rights to all men in the American Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877.[3]

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President (1861–1865).

The first official party convention was held on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. The Republicans' initial base was in the Northeast and the upper Midwest. With the realignment of parties and voters in the Third Party System, the strong run of John C. Fremont in the 1856 Presidential election demonstrated it dominated most northern states. Early Republican ideology was reflected in the 1856 slogan "free labor, free land, free men."[4] "Free labor" referred to the Republican opposition to slave labor and belief in independent artisans and businessmen. "Free land" referred to Republican opposition to plantation system whereby the rich could buy up all the good farm land and work it with slaves, leaving the yeoman independent farmers the leftovers. The Party had the goal of containing the expansion of slavery, which would cause the collapse of the Slave Power and the expansion of freedom.[5] Lincoln, representing the fast-growing western states, won the Republican nomination in 1860 and subsequently won the presidency. The party took on the mission of saving the Union and destroying slavery during the American Civil War and over Reconstruction. In the election of 1864, it united with pro-war Democrats to nominate Lincoln on the National Union Party ticket.

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The party's success created factionalism within the party in the 1870s. Those who felt that Reconstruction had been accomplished and was continued mostly to promote the large-scale corruption tolerated by President Ulysses S. Grant ran Horace Greeley for the presidency. The Stalwarts defended Grant and the spoils system; the Half-Breeds pushed for reform of the civil service. The GOP supported business generally, hard money (i.e., the gold standard), high tariffs to promote economic growth, high wages and high profits, generous pensions for Union veterans, and (after 1893) the annexation of Hawaii. The Republicans supported the pietistic Protestants who demanded Prohibition. As the Northern post-bellum economy boomed with heavy and light industry, railroads, mines, fast-growing cities and prosperous agriculture, the Republicans took credit and promoted policies to sustain the fast growth. Nevertheless, by 1890 the Republicans had agreed to the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to complaints from owners of small businesses and farmers. The high McKinley Tariff of 1890 hurt the party and the Democrats swept to a landslide in the off-year elections, even defeating McKinley himself.

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901–1909).

After the two terms of Democrat Grover Cleveland, the election of William McKinley in 1896 is widely seen as a resurgence of Republican dominance and is sometimes cited as a realigning election. McKinley promised that high tariffs would end the severe hardship caused by the Panic of 1893, and that the GOP would guarantee a sort of pluralism in which all groups would benefit. The Republicans were cemented as the party of business, though mitigated by the succession of Theodore Roosevelt who embraced trust busting. He later ran on a third party ticket of the Progressive Party and challenged his previous successor William Howard Taft. The party controlled the presidency throughout the 1920s, running on a platform of opposition to the League of Nations, high tariffs, and promotion of business interests. Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were resoundingly elected in 1920, 1924, and 1928 respectively. The Teapot Dome scandal threatened to hurt the party but Harding died and Coolidge blamed everything on him, as the opposition splintered in 1924. The pro-business policies of the decade seemed to produce an unprecedented prosperity until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 heralded the Great Depression.

Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953-1961).

The New Deal coalition of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt controlled American politics for most of the next three decades, excepting the two-term presidency of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. African Americans moved into the Democratic Party during Roosevelt's time. After Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal legislation sailed through Congress at lightning speed. In the 1934 midterm elections, 10 Republican senators went down to defeat, leaving them with only 25 against 71 Democrats. The House of Representatives was split in a similar ratio. Republicans in Congress heavily criticized the "Second New Deal" and likened it to class warfare and socialism. The volume of legislation, and the inability of the Republicans to block it, soon elevated the level of opposition to Roosevelt. Conservative Democrats, mostly from the South, joined with Republicans led by Senator Robert Taft to create the conservative coalition, which dominated domestic issues in Congress until 1964. The Republicans recaptured Congress in 1946 after gaining 13 seats in the Senate and 55 seats in the House.

Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States (1981–1989).

The second half of the 20th century saw election or succession of Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Republican Party, led by House Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich campaigning on a Contract with America, was elected to majorities to both houses of Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994. The Senate majority lasted until 2001, when the Senate became split evenly but was regained in the 2002 elections. Both Republican majorities in the House and Senate were held until the Democrats regained control in the mid-term elections of 2006. In the 21st century, the Republican Party has been defined by social conservatism, a preemptive war foreign policy intended to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more powerful executive branch, supply-side economics, support for gun ownership, and deregulation.

In the Presidential election of 2008, the party's nominees were Senator John McCain, of Arizona, for President and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President. They were defeated by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. In 2009, Republicans Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell were elected to the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia and in 2010, Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special Senate election. Their victories were harbingers of a GOP landslide in fall 2010, retaking control of the House, increasing their number of seats in the Senate, and gaining a majority of state governor seats. Overall 2010 was a historic election for the Republican Party. The Republicans gained 680 seats, the biggest gain by either party since 1966, which surpassed Democratic gains in the election of 1974. Republicans now hold approximately 3,890 of the total state legislative seats in the U.S., about 53 percent. That is the most seats in the GOP column since 1928. The Republicans will now control at least 54 of the 99 state legislative chambers, the highest number since 1952.[6]


Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.

References

  1. http://www.masslive.com/history/index.ssf/2011/05/springfields_375th_from_puritans_to_presidents.html#incart_hbx
  2. http://www.masslive.com/history/index.ssf/2011/05/springfields_375th_from_puritans_to_presidents.html#incart_hbx
  3. Gould, Grand Old Party
  4. William Gienapp, The Origins of the Republican Party (1989) p.168
  5. Foner, Free soil, free labor, free men (1970)
  6. Ed Smith (2010-11-03). Republicans Exceed Expectations in 2010 State Legislative Elections. Ncsl.org. Retrieved on 2011-01-30.
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