Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Republican Party & Race Issues

As layed out in my previous post, many people wrongly believe that the Republican party has not been a friend of minorities. Once again, the facts do not support that argument. The Republican party, in fact, was founded on a strong anti-slavery position in early 1854 in Michigan.

The Grolier Mulitmedia Encyclopedia has a very good write up on the history of the Republican party from its founding in 1854 to GHWB's presidency. Here is an excerpt on the party's origins:

"Scholars agree that the origins of the party grew out of the sectional conflicts regarding the expansion of slavery into the new western territories. The stimulus for political realignment was provided by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. That law repealed earlier compromises that had excluded slavery from the territories. The passage of this act served as the unifying agent for abolitionists and split the Democrats and the Whig party. "Anti-Nebraska" protest meetings spread rapidly through the country. Two such meetings were held in Ripon, Wis., on Feb. 28 and Mar. 20, 1854, and were attended by a group of abolitionist Free Soilers, Democrats, and Whigs. They decided to call themselves Republicans because they professed to be political descendants of Thomas Jefferson's Democratic Republican party. The name was formally adopted by a state convention held in Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854.

The new party was a success from the beginning. In the 1854 congressional elections 44 Republicans were elected as a part of the anti-Nebraskan majority in the House of Representatives, and several Republicans were elected to the Senate and to various state houses. In June 1856, at the first Republican national convention, Sen. John C. Frémont was nominated for the presidency but was defeated by Democrat James Buchanan. During the campaign the northern wing of the Know-Nothing party split off and endorsed the Republican ticket, making the Republicans the principal antislavery party.
Two days after the inauguration of Buchanan, the Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which increased sectional dissension and was denounced by the Republicans."

You can read the entire article here.

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