The Republican Party was created in 1854 to fill the void left by the dissolution of the Whig Party, which left no national party able to challenge the Democrats. It contested its first Presidential election in 1856, and won control of the White House and both Houses of Congress for the first time in 1860, under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. Given the party's anti-slavery stance, several southern states opted to secede, triggering the American Civil War.
The Republicans did not contest the 1864 Presidential election, instead endorsing the newly-created National Union Party in an effort to attract War Democrats to support Lincoln over their party's candidate, disgraced former general George McClellan. The NUP's vice-presidential nominee was Andrew Johnson, a Democratic senator from Tennessee and unionist who was the only member of any seceding state's Congressional delegation not to resign his seat. After Lincoln's death, Johnson served almost the entire term despite an attempt by Congressional Republicans to remove him under articles of impeachment. In 1868 the party returned to the White House under Ulysses S. Grant and would become the nation's dominant party for the rest of the nineteenth century. In the early twentieth century the party was competitive with its Democratic rivals. From 1932 to 1968 the GOP was able to elect only one President and seemed to be a permanent Congressional minority. The revitalization of American conservatism allowed the party to see brighter days for the rest of the twentieth century, once again becoming the nation's largest party, though Democrats remained competitive. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Republican fortunes were decidedly mixed.
In 1912 the party was divided between conservative and populist members, and the conservatives won the day. Ever since, the Republican Party, which had once been the home of liberal social reformers as well as big business interests, has tended to be the party of the American right and center-right.
Republican Party in The Man With the Iron HeartEdit
In the years leading up to World War II, the Republican Party generally opposed both the New Deal program of Franklin D. Roosevelt and American involvement in world affairs, particulary the war in Europe. This was not absolute; many Republicans supported the New Deal and interventionism, and many conservative Democrats opposed.
However, the Republican Party was generally the party of opposition until America's entry in World War II, when both parties united until victory. After the defeat of Germany, the rise of the German Freedom Front helped validate the non-interventionist tendencies of the conservative Republicans. Congressman Jerry Duncan, (R-Indiana), spearheaded opposition in the House of Representatives, while Robert Taft (R-Ohio), took a leadership role in the Senate. In 1946, the Republican Party regained a majority in Congress, and sought to pass legislation to bring American forces back from Germany. While this legislation was vetoed by President Harry Truman, Congressional Republicans nonetheless carried the day when they refused to pass legislation allocating funding for the occupation.
Republican Party in The Guns of the SouthEdit
The Republican Party fractured in the wake of the Second American Revolution.
Robert E. Lee's seizure of Washington delayed the convention in Baltimore, but when it finally took place it renominated President Abraham Lincoln and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin respectively. In response the Radical Republicans seceded (a word used by both the Richmond Dispatch and the northern papers) and put forward General John C. Frémont (who had attempted to free Missouri's slaves in 1861, only to be overruled by Lincoln) with Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, who still adamantly refused to admit that his home state no longer accepted the authority of Washington D.C.
Republican Party in Southern VictoryEdit
The Republican Party reached its zenith in the mid-nineteenth century when its candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won election as President of the United States in 1860. The Republicans, whose central platform plank was opposition to slavery, were positively despised by the Southern states, and eleven southern states, refusing to accept the results of the election, seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States. The War of Secession followed, ending in US defeat and a steep decline in the country's international prestige.
Lincoln was soundly defeated in 1864, and Republicans did not retake the presidency until 1880 with the victory of James G. Blaine over the Democratic incumbent Samuel J. Tilden. Blaine's administration was marked by his opposition to CS President James Longstreet's purchase of Chihuahua and Sonora in 1881. This led to the Second Mexican War and a second defeat of the US at the hands of the CS, Britain, and France--though it also led indirectly to the incorporation of the US into the Central Powers with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
In 1882, the Republican Party was clearly marked as the scapegoat for the low ebb of US fortunes. Abraham Lincoln convened a number of Republican leaders in Chicago, Illinois, where he explained that the platform of hostility to the CS was unpopular, impracticable, and dangerous. He suggested changing the party's focus to domestic affairs, namely workers' rights. The other Republicans refused, and Lincoln defected to the Socialist Party, taking with him a number of his followers. The Socialists soon surpassed the Republicans as the country's second-largest party, the Democrats absorbed most of the rest when they incorporated a more hawkish foreign policy stance into their platform, and the Republican Party would never again be a dominant force in national politics, though it would continue to compete in regional elections in several Midwestern states. In the 1944 presidential election, for example, the nominee took four states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, the home state of incumbent President Charles W. La Follette.
By 1960, the Republican Party was viewed as the party of political stability, taking a hard line on the Race's Colonization Fleet. In 1962, Republican President Earl Warren launched a secret missle attack on the Fleet.