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Posted by Lilly from ? ( on Wednesday, June 19, 2002 at 2:44PM :

In Reply to: Re: taken from the web posted by panch from ? ( on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 at 7:01PM :

again from Grolier's Encyclopedia Americana:

Republican Party, the younger of the two major POLITICAL PARTIES in the United States. Organized in 1854 to oppose the extension of slavery into the territories, it first captured the presidency in 1860 under the leadership of Abraham LINCOLN. His election was followed by the Civil War, during which the Republican party became the majority party.

Until 1929 the success of the Republican party was based on an alliance between Eastern businessmen and Midwestern farmers. Most laborers and blacks also supported the party with regularity. In the wake of the Depression of the 1930's the party lost most of its urban supporters with the exception of businessmen. After World War II, the party gained a following in the suburbs and in the South.

History of the Party

The roots of the Republican party lay in the opposition to slavery, which took a variety of forms in the pre-Civil War era. Some opponents of slavery looked to political methods as a way of attacking the institution. Unable to find sufficient support in the dominant DEMOCRATIC or WHIG parties, antislavery men launched the Liberty party in 1840. Soon thereafter, antislavery forces fixed on a specific issue--opposition to the extension of slavery into U. S. territories. In 1848 this led to the formation of the Free Soil party. Although both these third parties quickly faded away, they helped crystalize attitudes on the issue of slavery. As the political climate heated up in the 1850's, the existing two-party system collapsed with the disappearance of the Whig party and the splintering of the Democratic party. Out of this political upheaval emerged the Republican party.

The Republican party was born in an outburst of protest against the Kansas-Nebraska bill in 1854. The bill provided that the question of slavery in the proposed territories of Kansas and Nebraska would be left to the residents of each territory. This enraged opponents of slavery because it repealed the Compromise of 1820, which banned slavery in that area. Northerners committed to the principle of free soil held the first anti-Nebraska gatherings in February 1854. After passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the spring, opponents of the measure held a series of conventions that led to the formation of the Republican party.

These two rounds of meetings in opposition to the measure mark the start of the Republican party, but people at the time, and historians since then, have disagreed over which meeting deserves credit for founding the Republican party. The principal claimants were Ripon, Wis., and Jackson, Mich. In Ripon, A. E. Bovay headed an anti-Nebraska meeting on Feb. 28, 1854, which led to a state convention in Madison on July 13, 1854. However, a similar meeting had occurred a week earlier in Jackson, Mich. Both groups described themselves as "Republicans," the old label formerly used by followers of Thomas JEFFERSON.

A New National Party

The new party got off to a shaky start. It faced opposition not only from the Democrats but also from the so-called "Know Nothings," who formed yet another party. Out of this political chaos came a new party system, dominated by the issue of slavery, which most benefited the young Republican party. Building on a base of former Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska Democrats, and antislavery Whigs, the Republican party stood primarily for a ban on slavery in the territories. In the presidential campaign of 1856 the Republicans heralded their candidate, John C. Frémont, with the chant, "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Frémont." In a losing effort Frémont captured 33% of the popular vote.

By 1860, Republicans were in a strong position. The Whig party had disappeared, the Know-Nothing party had faded, and the Democratic party was deeply divided over the issue of slavery. In 1860 a four-way presidential race brought victory to the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, who won a decisive majority of the electoral votes. However, the Republican victory was a narrow sectional one. Outside of the North the party carried only California and Oregon. Nevertheless, the Republican party was the first and thus far the only third party in American history to succeed in becoming one of the two major parties.

Lincoln's victory led to secession by slave-holding Southern states. The ultimate withdrawal of 11 states gave the Republicans control of the federal government. In the course of the Civil War, Republicans abolished slavery. They also adopted a far-reaching economic program as promised in their 1860 platform. The leading measures were (1) the Homestead Act, (2) the Morrill Land Grant Act, (3) higher tariff duties, (4) federal aid for a transcontinental railroad, and (5) encouragement of a national banking system.

The long and costly Civil War forced the Republican party to broaden its appeal in the 1864 election. Temporarily forsaking the label "Republican," Lincoln ran under the banner of the Union party with Andrew JOHNSON, a War Democrat, as his running mate. This temporary expedient helped assure Lincoln's reelection, but it created an explosive situation when Andrew Johnson became president as a result of Lincoln's assassination just after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Reconstruction and Factionalism

Republicans at first were deeply divided over the policy to follow in reconstructing the South. The so-called Radicals insisted on far-reaching changes, particularly to elevate freed slaves, but they were opposed by more moderate Republicans. President Johnson's unwillingness to support any changes in the South, other than emancipation, soon united Republicans in a common front that produced a congressional program providing blacks with citizenship, equal rights, and the vote. Congressional Reconstruction brought Republican control of Southern state governments, but this political dominance was short-lived. By 1877, white Democrats had recaptured control of the South. The legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction was the creation of a solidly Democratic South.

-- Lilly
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