History of the GOP
The Republican Party, also referred to as the "GOP" (Grand Old Party), is one of the two major political parties in the United States. It is the second-oldest extant political party in the United States; its chief rival, the Democratic Party, is the oldest.
The Republican Party emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas–Nebraska Act and the expansion of slavery into American territories. The early Republican Party consisted of northern Protestants, factory workers, professionals, businessmen, prosperous farmers, and after 1866, former black slaves. The party had very little support from white Southerners at the time, who predominantly backed the Democratic Party in the Solid South, and from Catholics, who made up a major Democratic voting bloc. While both parties adopted pro-business policies in the 19th century, the early GOP was distinguished by its support for the national banking system, the gold standard, railroads, and high tariffs. The party opposed the expansion of slavery before 1861 and led the fight to destroy the Confederate States of America (1861–1865). While the Republican Party had almost no presence in the Southern United States at its inception, it was very successful in the Northern United States, where by 1858 it had enlisted former Whigs and former Free Soil Democrats to form majorities in nearly every Northern state.
With the election of Abraham Lincoln (the first Republican president) in 1860, the Party's success in guiding the Union to victory in the American Civil War, and the Party's role in the abolition of slavery, the Republican Party largely dominated the national political scene until 1932. In 1912, former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt formed the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party after being rejected by the GOP and ran unsuccessfully as a third-party presidential candidate calling for social reforms. After 1912, many Roosevelt supporters left the Republican Party, and the Party underwent an ideological shift to the right. The GOP lost its congressional majorities during the Great Depression (1929–1940); under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrats formed a winning New Deal coalition that was dominant from 1932 through 1964.
After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the party's core base shifted, with the Southern states becoming more reliably Republican in presidential politics and the Northeastern states becoming more reliably Democratic. White voters increasingly identified with the Republican Party after the 1960s. Following the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the Republican Party opposed abortion in its party platform and grew its support among evangelicals. The Republican Party won five of the six presidential elections from 1968 to 1988. Two-term President Ronald Reagan, who held office from 1981 to 1989, was a transformative party leader. His conservative policies called for reduced government spending and regulation, lower taxes, and a strong anti-Soviet Union foreign policy. Reagan's influence upon the party persisted into the next century.
Since the 1990s, the Party's support has chiefly come from the South, the Great Plains, the Mountain States, and rural areas in the North. The 21st century Republican Party ideology is American conservatism. Today's GOP supports lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong national defense, gun rights, deregulation, capital punishment, and restrictions on labor unions; it opposes abortion rights. In contrast to its support for conservative economic policies and liberal view of government, the Republican Party is socially conservative. There have been 19 Republican Presidents, the most from any one political party.
The Republican Party pioneered the right of women to vote and was consistent in its support throughout the long campaign for acceptance. It was the first major party to advocate equal rights for women and the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848 marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Two years later there was a nationwide meeting in Worcester, Mass.
By 1870, the Massachusetts Republican State Convention had already seated two suffragists, Lucy Stone and Mary A. Livermore, as delegates. In addition, the National Republican Convention of 1872 approved a resolution favoring the admission of women to “wider fields of usefulness” and added that “the honest demand of this class of citizens for additional rights … should be treated with respectful consideration.”
Wyoming, the state that pioneered women’s suffrage, sent two women, Therese A. Jenkins and Cora G. Carleton, to the 1892 Republican Convention in Minneapolis as alternate delegates. This was the first time women were seated at a Republican National Convention.
This convention was also the first to be addressed by a woman, J. Ellen Foster, chairman of the Women’s Republican Association of the United States. A strong believer in organization, Foster said her association had prepared work plans for women’s involvement in national politics. Copies were given to each delegate and alternate. “We are here to help you,” she declared,“ and we are here to stay.”
At the request of Susan B. Anthony, Sen. A.A. Sargent, a Republican from California, introduced the 19th Amendment in 1878. Sargent’s amendment (also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment) was defeated four times by a Democrat-controlled Senate. When the Republican Party regained control of Congress in 1919, the Equal Suffrage Amendment finally passed the House in May of that year and in the Senate in June.
When the Amendment was submitted to the states, 26 of the 36 states that ratified it had Republican legislatures. Of the nine states that voted against ratification, eight were Democratic. Twelve states, all Republican, had given women full suffrage before the federal amendment was ratified. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to ratify the amendment. The U.S. Secretary of State certified the amendment on Aug. 26, 1920.
Source: Office of the Co-Chairman, Republican National Committee