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History of the Republican Party (United States)

Aspect of U.S. political history / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Republican Party, also known 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 after its main political rival, the Democratic Party.

Quick facts: Republican Party , Other name, Abbreviation, ...
Republican Party
Other nameNational Union Party (1864)
AbbreviationGOP (Grand Old Party)
ChairpersonRonna McDaniel
Governing bodyRepublican National Committee
FoundersAlvan E. Bovay[1]
Horace Greeley
FoundedMarch 20, 1854; 169 years ago (1854-03-20)[3]
Little White Schoolhouse,[4] Ripon, Wisconsin
43°50′38″N 88°50′11″W
Preceded byFree Soil Party[5]
Conscience Whigs[6]
Liberty Party
Anti-Nebraska movement
North American Party
Headquarters310 First Street SE,
Washington, D.C., 20003
MembershipDecrease 35,732,180 (2021 est.)[7]
Political positionCenter-right to Right-wing
Colors  Red (since 2000)

^ a: The GOP has been evaluated by political scientists as a conservative-liberal party.[29][30]
^ b: The GOP currently consists of centrist,[31] center-right,[32][20] and right-wing[25][26] factions.
Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President (1861–1865)

In 1854, the Republican Party emerged to combat the expansion of slavery into American territories after the passing of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. The early Republican Party consisted of northern Protestants, factory workers, professionals, businessmen, prosperous farmers, and after the Civil War, 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 block. 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 its first president, Abraham Lincoln, in 1860, the Party's success in guiding the Union to victory in the 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 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.[33] 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, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Southern strategy, 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.[34] 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.[35] 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 social government spending and regulation, increased military spending, lower taxes, and a strong anti-Soviet Union foreign policy. Reagan's influence upon the party persisted into the next century. In 2016, businessman and former reality TV star Donald Trump became the party's nominee for president, won the presidency, and shifted the party further to the right. Since Trump's nomination in 2016, the party is seen to be split between the majority Trumpist faction, who are far-right nationalists and populists, and the minority anti-Trump faction, which consists of center-right conservatives and moderate centrists. 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.[36][37] Today, it supports free market economics, cultural conservatism, and originalism in constitutional jurisprudence.[38] There have been 19 Republican presidents, the most from any one political party.