The Republican Party was born in the early 1850’s by anti-slavery activists and individuals who believed that government should grant western lands to settlers free of charge.

​ The first informal meeting of the party took place in Ripon, Wisconsin, a small town northwest of Milwaukee.  The first official Republican meeting took place on July 6th, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan.  The name “Republican” was chosen because it alluded to equality and reminded individuals of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.

​In 1856, the Republicans became a national party when John C. Fremont was nominated for President under the slogan:  “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.”  Even though they were considered a “3rd party” because the Democrats and Whigs represented the two-party system at the time, Fremont received 33% of the popular vote.  Four years later, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White

The Civil War erupted in 1861 and lasted four grueling years.  During the war, against the advice of his cabinet, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves.  The Republicans of their day worked to pass the:

​·13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery
·14th Amendment which guaranteed equal protection under the laws
·15th Amendment which helped secure voting rights for African-Americans.

In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women’s suffrage. The Republican Party played a leading role in securing women the right to vote.  When the 19th Amendment was finally added to the Constitution, 26 of the 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control.  The first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917.

Standing in sharp contrast to the two existing political parties’ present stereotypes regarding minorities and women, once again the Republican Party was the vanguard in relation to minorities and women.

​Even though Presidents during most of the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century were Republicans, Democrats and Franklin Roosevelt tended to dominate American politics in the 1930’s and 40’s and for 40 years from 1952 through 1992.  Democrats, who controlled Congress, passed into law many “social” programs during this period. These “social” programs were intended to benefit the poor.  However, history has shown that many missed the mark and instead kept the poor dependent on government handouts and gave them no opportunities to advance.  The unwritten philosophy behind many of these Democratic programs was that the government could make better decisions than the individual could make.  This philosophy runs counter to the Republican philosophy of individual rights and freedoms.

From the beginning the Republicans have worked hard to abolish slavery, defend free speech and give women suffrage.  In today’s popular media stereotypes, none of these sounds like a typical Republican issue, yet they are stances the Republican Party, in opposition to the Democratic Party, adopted early on.  

With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the Republicans firmly established themselves as a major party capable of holding onto the White House for 60 of the next 100 years.  Assuming the presidency when McKinley as assassinated in 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt busied himself with what he considered to be the most pressing issue, ensuring the Republican principle of competition in a free market.    

Some people have argued that Republicans fought to give blacks equal rights and then the vote as a way of wresting control from the southern states away from the Democrats.  While it is true that almost all blacks, when given the vote, voted Republican, these were very dangerous and controversial issues at the time.  However, history has shown that Republicans steadfastly believe in equality amongst all people, regardless of color, race or creed.   

Republicans believe that it is better to give a person an opportunity for advancement in their lives than to make them forever dependent on a handout program.  They believe all people have the capability to be successful in life and that each individual has the right to choose just what that “success” is.​
"You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging Thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot further Brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred.
You cannot help the poor by
destroying the rich.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and Independence.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

​-Abraham Lincoln

Who are the Republicans ?

Behind all the elected officials and the candidates of any political party are thousands of hard-working staff and volunteers who raise money, lick the envelopes, and make the phone calls that every winning campaign must have.  The national structure of our party starts with the Republican National Committee.  Each state has its own Republican State Committee with a Chairman and staff.  The Republican structure goes right down to the neighborhoods, where a Republican precinct captain every Election Day organizes Republican workers to get out the vote.

Most states ask voters when they register to express party preference.  Voters don’t have to do so, but registration lists let the parties know exactly which voters they want to be sure vote on Election Day.  Just because voters register as a Republican, they don’t need to vote that way – many voters split their tickets, voting for candidates in both parties.  But the national party is made up of all registered Republicans in all 50 states.  For the most part they are the voters in Republican Presidential Primaries and caucuses.  They are the heart and soul of the party.
Republicans are individual thinkers.  They read and study the issues and make their decisions based on fact, not fiction or rumor.  They are not easily swayed by popular and repetitive rhetoric of the present day mainstream media and political pundits.
Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles:

• Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions, 
• All people are entitled to equal rights, 
• Decisions are best made close to home.


For a long time Republicans have been known as the “G.O.P.”  Party faithful thought it meant “Grand Old Party”, but apparently the original meaning (in 1875) was “gallant old party”.  When automobiles came into use, it became known as “get out and push”.  That’s still a pretty good slogan for Republicans who depend every campaign year on the hard work of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to get out and vote and push people to support the causes of the Republican Party.


Why the Elephant?

The Gettysburg Address By Abraham Lincoln the first GOP President of the United States:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate...we cannot consecrate...we cannot hallow...this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggle here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

-November 19, 1863

The symbol for the Republican Party is the elephant.  During the mid term elections way back in 1874, Democrats tried to scare voters into thinking President Grant would seek to run for an unprecedented third term. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, depicted a Democratic jackass trying to scare a Republican elephant – and both symbols stuck!

What is the “GOP”?