Republican Party History


The Republican Party can be traced back to March 20, 1854 in Ripon Wisconsin. A group of men came together to establish an anti-slavery coalition to meet the growing danger that slavery posed to the country.  The group of people against slavery that met was opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would allow slavery in new U.S. territories.  For decades, the precarious political balance between free and slave states was held together by the Missouri Compromise. Slavery would not be allowed to expand above a certain latitude. On Jan. 4, 1854, Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois gave the South what it wanted and upset the established order by introducing the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This bill essentially nullified the Missouri Compromise and would allow for states entering the union the power to decide on whether to allow slavery by popular sovereignty.

On July 6, 1854, the first state-wide anti-slavery state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan. The hot day forced the large crowd outside to a nearby oak grove. Called the “Under the Oaks Convention” the first statewide candidates were selected for what would become the Republican Party. 

United by desire to abolish slavery, it was in Jackson that the Platform of the Under the Oaks Convention read: “…we will cooperate and be known as REPUBLICANS…” Smaller groups had gathered in intimate settings like the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. However, the meeting in Jackson would be the first ever mass gathering of the Republican Party.

Even in 1856, the Democrats were saying that a Republican presidency would lead to the end of slavery and civil war. And, of course that is exactly what happened with the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  Lincoln’s election also led to an extended period of Republican dominance. For the next 72 years, only three Democrats would go on to win the White House.   

Historically, it was the Republican Party which included minorities, against the protests of Democrats.

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation.

1865 – Republicans pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

1867 – in Houston Texas Republican party was formed by 150 Black Americans and 20 White Americans

1868 – Republicans pass the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

1870 – Republicans pass the 15th Amendment granting the right to vote regardless of color, race, or previous condition of servitude.

1919 – Republicans pass the 19th Amendment granting the right to vote to women.

1964 – Republicans overcome a Democratic filibuster to pass the Civil Rights Act. Republicans had been working to pass civil rights acts to enforce the Constitutional Amendments since the late 1800’s to guarantee the rights of all Americans; some were passed, others stifled by the Democratic opposition. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was the fulfillment of this work.

The Republican Party of New Mexico began during the Civil War Era in the recently acquired Territory of New Mexico. One the founding fathers of the Republican Party of New Mexico was Thomas B. Catron. Catron was influential in shaping the party and was an early advocate for New Mexico Statehood, and marshaled the territorial Republican Party to lobby Republicans at the national level for New Mexico’s admission to the Union. He later represented New Mexico in the U.S. Senate from 1912 to 1917.