History of the Republican Party

The Republican Party, also commonly referred to as the GOP (for “Grand Old Party”), is one of the world’s oldest political parties still in existence.

On July 6, 1854, a state convention of anti-slavery men was held in Jackson, Michigan to found a new political party. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had been published two years earlier, causing increased resentment against slavery, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of May, 1854 threatened to make slave states out of previously free territories. Because the convention day was hot, and the huge crowd could not be accommodated in the hall, the meeting adjourned to an oak grove on “Morgan’s Forty” on the outskirts of town. There, a statewide slate of candidates was selected, and the Republican Party was born. Winning an overwhelming victory in the elections of 1854, the Republican Party went on to become the dominant national party throughout much of the nineteenth century.

With its election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, as well as its success in guiding the Union to victory and abolishing slavery, the party came to dominate the national political scene until 1932. The Republican Party was based on northern, white Protestants; businessmen, small business owners, professionals, factory workers, farmers, and African-Americans.

January 1, 1863 – The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by Republican President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, goes into effect, as does Confiscation Act of 1862 passed by Republicans in Congress.

April 8, 1864 – The Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery was passed by the U.S. Senate. The Thirteenth Amendment passed with unanimous support from Republicans and approximately a third of the Democrats in the chamber.

June 15, 1864 – The Republican Congress votes for equal pay for African–American troops serving in the U.S. Army.

June 28, 1864 – The Republican majority in Congress repeals the Fugitive Slave Act.

October 29, 1864 – African-American abolitionist, Sojourner Truth says of Republican President Abraham Lincoln, “I never was treated by anyone with more kindness and cordiality than were shown to me by that great and good man.”

January 31, 1865 – The Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery throughout the United States, passes the U.S. House with unanimous Republican support and marginal Democratic support (only 23 percent of Democrats supported the Thirteenth Amendment).

March 3, 1865 – The Republican Congress establishes the Free Men’s Bureau to provide healthcare, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves.

June 19, 1865 – A date that is now known as Juneteenth, U.S. troops land in Galveston, Texas to enforce a ban on slavery that has been declared for more than two years by the Emancipation Proclamation.

November 22, 1865 – Republicans denounce the Democratic legislature of Mississippi for enacting black codes, which institutionalized racial discrimination.

December 6, 1865 – The Thirteenth Amendment, which bans slavery, is ratified by the 27th (of 36) state and goes into immediate effect.

February 5, 1866 – U.S. Representative Thaddeus Stevens, a Republican from Pennsylvania, introduces legislation successfully opposed by Democrat President Andrew Johnson to implement “40 acres and a mule” relief by distributing land to former slaves.

April 9, 1866 – The Republican-controlled Congress overrides Democrat President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which confers the rights of citizenship on African–Americans, and it becomes law.

April 19, 1866 – Thousands assemble in Washington, DC, to celebrate the Republican Party’s abolition of slavery.

May 10, 1866 – The U.S. House passes the Republican’s Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees Due Process and Equal Protection of the laws to all citizens; 100 percent of the Democrats voted against the Fourteenth Amendment.

July 16, 1866 – The Republican Congress overrides Democrat President Andrew Johnson’s veto of the Free Men’s Bureau Act, which protects former slaves from black codes denying their rights.

July 28, 1866 – The Republican Congress authorizes formation of the Buffalo Soldiers, which were two regiments of African-American calvary-men.

January 8, 1867 – Republicans override Democrat President Andrew Johnson’s veto of a law granting voting rights to African-Americans in Washington, DC.

July 19, 1867 – The Republican Congress overrides the veto of legislation protecting the voting rights of all African-Americans.

March 30, 1868 – Republicans begin impeachment proceedings for Democrat President Andrew Johnson who declared that the United States was a country for white men.

February 3, 1870 – The U.S. House of Representatives ratifies the Fifteenth Amendment, which was supported by 97 percent of Republicans and only 3 percent of Democrats.

February 25, 1870 – Hiram Rhodes becomes the first black seated in the U.S. Senate.

February 28, 1871 – The Republican Congress passes the Enforcement Act, providing federal protections to African-American voters.

December 9, 1872 – The first African-American Governor, Pinckney Pinchbeck (R), is inaugurated in Louisiana.

April 2, 1917 – The first woman in Congress, Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana (R), is sworn in.

May 21, 1919 – The Republican-controlled Congress passes the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

December 7, 1928 – The first Hispanic U.S. Senator, Senator Octaviano Larrazolo of New Mexico (R), is sworn in.

May 17, 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education strikes down racial segregation in public schools. The majority decision is written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, former Republican Governor of California and Vice Presidential nominee.

September 9, 1957 – Republican President Dwight Eisenhower signs the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

June 10, 1964 – the U.S. Senate passes the 1964 Civil Rights Act when the Republican leader, Everett Dirksen, of Illinois, defeats an attempted Democrat filibuster. 80% of Republicans in Congress support its passage.

The timeline and history of the Republican Party was posted by Michael Zak and can be viewed here.