The founding event of the Republican Party is a matter of some dispute. Some point to a mass meeting in Ripon,
Wisconsin in March 1854; others cite a later gathering in Jackson, Michigan. In any event, there appeared to be a
spontaneous outpouring of anger following passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Large public meetings were held
in numerous Northern communities, some of which used the term “Republican.”

The ranks of the emerging Republican Party were filled by the following:

  • Northern Whigs united in their opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but leaderless following the deaths of
    Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, both in 1852.

  • The Free-Soil Party, which had played a spoiler role in several presidential elections, but now was bereft of
    effective leadership

  • The Know-Nothing movement, whose roots lay in the fear of immigrants in general and Roman Catholics in
    particular Northern Democrats who deserted their Southern cousins over the slavery issue.

  • The new party experienced almost overnight success, winning control of the House of Representatives in the
    fall of 1854. Issues that brought the Republicans together included:

Repeal of the Kansas-Nebraska Act—the Republican opposition to the extension of slavery was based more on
economic concerns than moral ones

Support of the central route for the construction of the transcontinental railroad

Support of a Homestead Act, which would ease the process for settlers to own western lands

Support of high protective tariffs and liberal immigration laws—both were attractive to Northern manufacturers.

Importantly, the Republicans were the party of free working white men; they were opposed to the spread of slavery
because they did not want to compete against unpaid labor in the lands opening in the West. They were no
particular friends of the blacks, slave or free. Further, the Republicans were purely a sectional party; they did not
attempt to run candidates in the slave states. Their plan was to gain complete political control in the North; if they
did, they would have sufficient electoral strength to elect a president.

The Fundamental Principles of the Republican Party

  • I believe that the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability
    and responsibility must be honored.

  • I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or

  • I believe in free enterprise and that encouraging individual initiative will continue to bring this nation
    opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

  • I believe government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they

  • I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be
    performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

  • I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

  • I believe America must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative
    ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

  • I believe in American values and that we should preserve our national strength and pride while working to
    extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

  • Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and
    successful principles of government.

Blacks Rethink Democratic Party

Black Folks and The Republican Party

Black History and The Effects of Reconstruction

Brief History of North Carolina Republican Party

National Black Republican Associations (NBRA) History Test

Grand Old Party: Blacks might be surprised to compare Republican history with the Democrats’
Universities Started By Republicans
Shaw University 1865
Raleigh, NC
Fisk University 1866
Nashville, TN
Atlanta University 1867
Atlanta, GA
Howard University 1867
Washington, DC
Meharry Medical College 1867
Nashville, TN
Morgan College 1867
Baltimore, MD
Morehouse College 1867
Atlanta, GA
Talladega College 1867
Talladega, AL
Straight University 1869
New Orleans, LA
Clark University 1870
Atlanta, GA
New Orleans University 1873
New Orleans LA
Spelman College 1881
Atlanta, GA
Philander Smith College 1883
Little Rock AR
Rust College 1883
Holy Spring MS
Virginia Union University 1899
Richmond, VA
Samuel Houston College 1900
Austin, TX
Copyright 2013. All content and rights are reserved by The Frederick Douglass Foundation, Inc.
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