From the Beginning…the Republican party has stood for individual rights and personal liberty, believing “The Government which governs best governs least.”
The Republican Party was born in the struggle for human freedom.
What you didn’t learn in school.
On March 20, 1854, the Republican Party was started by anti-slavery activists in Ripon, Wisconsin to oppose the spread of slavery into the new western territories under the Kansas-Nebraska act. The name “Republican” was chosen to show the party’s opposition to aristocracy and corruption. The new party was for free soil in the new western lands for formers and argued vigorously that free-market labor was superior to slavery. John C.Frémont ran in 1856 as the party’s first presidential nominee under the slogan, “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Frémont!”
“…all men are created free and equal.”
The party, with its stand against the evils of slavery, spread across the northern and western U.S. like a prairie fire of freedom.
By the election of 1860, Republicans had gained the Presidency under Abraham Lincoln and had majorities in both the House and the Senate. In addition, the Governor of every northern state was a Republican. Abraham Lincoln successfully united the Republican Party dedicated to the notion that all men and women are bestowed by God with the inalienable rights of liberty and equality. The Civil War broke out in the direct aftermath of Lincoln’s election, led by southern Democrats determined to protect their “peculiar institution” of slavery.
“The Great Emancipator”
In 1863, Linncoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln explained, “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
With the end of the Civil War and in the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, the Republican Congress banned slavery (Amendment XIII), and also enacted the nation’s first-ever Civil Rights Act requiring states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions (Amendment XIV). the Republican Congress also extended voting rights(Amendment XV) to people of all races, colors, and creeds and providing equal rights of access to all public accommodations. Lincoln articulated the Republican position best: “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”
Democratic opposition to Republican civil rights efforts lasted through Reconstruction and beyond. The most bitter Democrats in the south founded the Ku Klux Klan as a terror wing of the Democrat Party.
Lincoln’s vision still burns today: “I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal..”
A. Lincoln –July 10, 1858 Speech at Chicago, Illinois
Every African-American in Congress was a Republican through 1935.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
“I believe as long as we allow conditions to exist that make for second-class citizens, we are making of ourselves less than first-class citizens.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
1954 marked the beginning of the modern Civil Rights movement with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision. The decision was written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, 3-term Republican Governor of California and appointee of Republican Dwight Eisenhower.
Republican President Eisenhower then passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1957. This was followed by the 1960 Civil Rights Act authored by Republican Everett Dirksen. And, Republicans overwhelmingly supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act only became law after Republican votes broke a Democrat filibuster that sought to never allow the act to be voted on. In 1965, Republican appointed judge Frank Johnson over rules Democrat Governor George Wallace allowing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s protest march from Selma to Montgomery to proceed.