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The Origins of the Republican Party (Or, How to Successfully Create a New Party)
US History ^

Posted on 01/31/2012 6:26:42 PM PST by mnehring

The Origins of the Republican Party

Trying times spawn new forces. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 divided the country at the 36° 30' parallel between the pro-slavery, agrarian South and anti-slavery, industrial North, creating an uneasy peace which lasted for three decades. This peace was shattered in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Settlers would decide if their state would be free or slave. Northern leaders such as Horace Greeley, Salmon Chase and Charles Sumner could not sit back and watch the flood of pro-slavery settlers cross the parallel. A new party was needed.

Salmon Chase
Salmon Chase
Where was the party born? Following the publication of the "Appeal of Independent Democrats" in major newspapers, spontaneous demonstrations occurred. In early 1854, the first proto-Republican Party meeting took place in Ripon, Wisconsin. On June 6, 1854 on the outskirts of Jackson, Michigan upwards of 10,000 people turned out for a mass meeting "Under the Oaks." This led to the first organizing convention in Pittsburgh on February 22, 1856.

The gavel fell to open the Party's first nominating convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1856, announcing the birth of the Republican Party as a unified political force.

Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley
The Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by New York newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. Greeley printed in June 1854: "We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated 'Whig,' 'Free Democrat' or something else; though we think some simple name like 'Republican' would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery."

The elections of 1854 saw the Republicans take Michigan and make advances in many states, but this election was dominated by the emergence of the short-lived American (or 'Know-Nothing') Party. By 1855, the Republican Party controlled a majority in the House of Representatives. The new Party decided to hold an organizing convention in Pittsburgh in early 1856, leading up to the Philadelphia convention.

As the convention approached, things came to a head — and to blows. On the floor of the Senate Democratic representatives Preston Brooks and Lawrence Keitt (South Carolina) brutally attacked Charles Sumner with a cane after Sumner gave a passionate anti-slavery speech which Brooks took offense (he was related to the main antagonist of Sumner's speech, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler). Both representatives resigned from Congress with severe indignation over their ouster, but were returned to Congress by South Carolina voters in the next year. Sumner was not able to return to the Congressional halls for four years after the attack. Brooks was heard boasting "Next time I will have to kill him," as he left the Senate floor after the attack.

On the same day as the attack came the news of the armed attack in Lawrence, Kansas. As a direct outgrowth of the "settler sovereignty" of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an armed band of men from Missouri and Nebraska sacked the town of Lawrence and arrested the leaders of the free state. The anti-abolitionists had made it clear that "settler sovereignty" meant pro-slavery. Labeled only as "ruffians" by Southern politicians, Horace Greeley was quick to decry both events as plots of the pro-slavery South. "Failing to silence the North by threats. . .the South now resorts to actual violence." The first rumblings of the Civil War had begun. The stage was set for the 1856 election, one which held the future of the Union in its grasp.

Read the Republican Platform of 1856

And what of the nickname "Grand Old Party"?

The nickname of the Republican Party didn't get attached to it until 1888. Previously, the nickname had been used by Southern Democrats. After the Republicans won back the Presidency and Congress for the first time since the Grant administration, the Chicago Tribune proclaimed: "Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party ... these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested."

TOPICS: Government; History; Politics
KEYWORDS: gop; newparty; republican; thirdparty
I've generally always opposed 'third parties' because they generally are just futile attempts at attention by fringe candidates usually surrounding one or two non-mainstream issues. However, history has given us a couple of examples where a political party or movement has gotten so off track that a new party can spring up and quickly move one of the primary parties into third party status. Some lessons can be learned by the creation of the Republican Party:

1. Have a primary issue you coalesce behind that is strong, powerful, and sets you apart from the other parties. Don't get caught in the weeds of sub-issues.

2. Other issues aren't important but having a single issue to rally behind helps with point #2- Consistency of Message. Speak to the same points on the major issue that unites you.

3. Many, many spontaneous demonstrations across the nation that spurs the feeling of a rapidly rising movement.

4. A powerful media voice. You need some sort of media type figure who people go to for information, who is trusted, to help spread your message in the manner that people get the information at the time. (such as Horace Greeley was to the original founding of the party or Ben Franklin during the Revolution).

5. The party needs to be started and led by a dynamic character everyone recognizes and who can communicate your message.

6. Organize the party quickly and get all the official stuff out of the way. Don't let other options spring up to also try to fill the void your party is.

7. Do not underestimate marketing. Speak to the people in language and terms they understand. This isn't 'dumbing down your message', it is selling to your potential customers.

------------- Not saying anything other than throwing this out for discussion. Drink coffee & talk...

1 posted on 01/31/2012 6:26:52 PM PST by mnehring
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To: mnehring

There should be 3 parties.

One for admitted socialists/commies (most Dems)
One for RINO/DINO jelly spined “moderates” (like Romney)
and one for true conservatives.

2 posted on 01/31/2012 6:29:27 PM PST by PAConservative1
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To: mnehring

You’re overlooking the role played by the short lived freesoil party. I doubt the GOP would have come to be without them bringing a few issues to the fore which brought like minded Whigs and Democrats together.

3 posted on 01/31/2012 6:34:35 PM PST by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: PAConservative1
The single member district and first past the pole voting rules work to disallow a realistic THIRD PARTY.

Now, the news ~ Charles Sumner's seat was the one Teddy Kennedy held. Teddy, of course, loved black slavery as much as Charles hated the practice.

That's just in case someone gets the stupid idea that it's OK to let Democrats hold that Senate seat.

Send Elzbeth Warren back to her secret laboratory where she burns frogs with concentrated Sunlight. Don't let her kick Senator Brown out of Sumner's seat.

4 posted on 01/31/2012 6:35:32 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: mnehring

If Romney is the GOP candidate, I sure can’t vote for him. I think a large number of us are finally being disenfranchised by the GOP. Last time we had to hold our noses and only Sarah Palin made it possible, but this time there is no one who would make it possible for me to vote for the GOP candidate if it’s Romney.

Sorry, if he’s the candidate, it’s over. And in my mind, anybody who runs with him is finished too. I wouldn’t vote for him even if he had somebody I liked as VP, because that person would have betrayed all his or her theoretically conservative principles just to get a shot at the VP slot and somebody like that is not worth voting for.

5 posted on 01/31/2012 6:37:15 PM PST by livius
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To: PAConservative1

People generally are dualistic with choices, no matter how many parties pop up, you’ll have two major and several ineffective minor.

You could have a major issues that have 5 different, unique positions but people would naturally gravitate to two of those positions. It is why third parties never really do any good and the history of successful new parties usually is those parties jumping in as one of the primary two, not being a successful ‘third’ choice.

6 posted on 01/31/2012 6:38:01 PM PST by mnehring
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To: mnehring

I’m against a 3rd party but it seems times are changing. In my opinion the Democrats are now commies and Republicans are liberals.

7 posted on 01/31/2012 6:45:03 PM PST by logitech
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To: WXRGina


8 posted on 01/31/2012 6:46:06 PM PST by logitech
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To: logitech

I’m definitely against third parties but sometimes the winds hint that one of the main parties need to be replaced. (third parties are generally defined by fringe issues).

9 posted on 01/31/2012 6:49:51 PM PST by mnehring
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To: mnehring

I would call it something like “the conservative republican party”.

It would be both socially and fiscally conservative.

That would be its big idea and theme.

It would work because that is what it missing from the republican party.

10 posted on 01/31/2012 6:52:08 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Pray Continued Victory for our Troops Still in Afghan!)
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To: mnehring

My personal preference would be a party that focuses on Liberty and that each man or woman as adults are capable of deciding for themselves how best to live their lives. While there are troubling libertarian aspects to this - I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater due to a few people worried about how they can get their next high on. If the United States stands for anything it must be Liberty, for without it we are all merely cogs to be ground perpetually together with no end.

11 posted on 01/31/2012 6:53:42 PM PST by reed13
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To: reed13

“Liberty” is too generic, people vote specific issues. Liberty means different things to different people...and while to Conservatives it has good meaning, it is also extremely over-used, from the Libertarians to the LaRouche people, they all proclaim it is about “Liberty”.

12 posted on 01/31/2012 6:56:11 PM PST by mnehring
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To: reed13

Per previous, even Nancy Pelosi proclaimed support for the Healthcare bill was all about ‘liberty’.

13 posted on 01/31/2012 7:16:43 PM PST by mnehring
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To: mnehring

Conservatives need to take over the Republican party from the grass roots up, and kick all the Liberals to the side.

This starts with a $10.00 fee to get on the primary ballot as a candidate for precinct chairman. Only the elected get to vote for party leadership. So take the party over at precinct, county, state levels, then nationally. You will also need to find honest, articulate conservatives to run for offices.

This primary has shown you who the establishment is. Those who are not supporting Romney during the primary will be people who can help once the grass roots has taken over.

You can not really accomplish much to change the party unless you do take it over from the bottom up. Remember, there are more conservatives than there are liberals in the GOP, but if you are just members, you can not really impact the leaders. So become the foot soldiers(precinct levels) then lieutenants, and generals etc. This is war, and it will take time.

14 posted on 01/31/2012 7:17:20 PM PST by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: mnehring; cripplecreek; PAConservative1

Good points.

How does one drive this wedge? Like you say- to be a true wedge, it has to have one point, or cleaving edge.

I’m not a historian (but I’ve read on some local KS history; supposedly one of Quantrill’s drunken raiders was split off from the group after the second Lawrence raid and was captured trying to take refuge in an indian camp on my farm)

There were pro-slavery advocates, and anti-slavery abolitionists. There were secondary issues (state’s rights vs federal rights etc.) but the cleaving edge was slavery and support or rejection of the system, economy and culture. If one’s comfort zone was the Dixie system, one would die for that system, regardless of whether you or your family had ever held slaves...

What is our cleaving edge today? Socialism vs. Capitalism?
States rights vs. Federal rights? Faith vs. Agnosticism/Atheism?

You see where I am going... Here at FR we are an eclectic group that hovers around these issues. For myself, Christian faith is the upstream source from which politics flows- but I am not one who thinks we can turn America into a Christian Theocracy.

But, I do think that individual freedom and the American Democracy and Constitution are worth preserving and fighting for while the Lord tarries...

Is that our knife-edge, that we can rally around- sharp enough to carve out a winning, restorative or at least defensive third party?

We see where co-opting ourselves with the GOP has gotten us. There are independents and blue-collar (if unenlightened) democrats who would join us if the message was properly framed.

The Tea Party is a good start, but there needs to be a clear, simple and razor-sharp issue.

Thanks for posting this thread- this has weighed on me alot lately.

15 posted on 01/31/2012 7:19:24 PM PST by One Name (Go to the enemy's home court and smoke his ass.)
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To: One Name

I’m definitely a states rights Christian. Seems to me that between the two you can pretty effectively cover almost all the bases.

16 posted on 01/31/2012 7:23:04 PM PST by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: mnehring
Thanks for opening this discussion. I never thought I would be at this point, but I'm here.

The Democrats left me at LBJ

The Republican have left me, this election

Where do I go? I thought Independent, can't do that yet, but leaning.

3rd Party?? Most elections we already have the 3rd Party to take votes away from us. Maybe we need to think 4th Party to even it out.

Why do Libratarians and Independents get to be involved with the Republican Party, that is a big issue with me. They deliberately STEPPED out from the GOP, then act like they have some right to still be involved in our debates and vote in our primaries.

I'm stuck. I hope something is done before I die. I have fought the good fight and yet I'm sinking. Can't do much more for my grandkids, but will try.

17 posted on 01/31/2012 7:45:09 PM PST by annieokie
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To: logitech
I’m against a 3rd party but it seems times are changing.

Given recent positions that the GOP has displayed and actions they have taken they will soon BE the 3rd party.


18 posted on 01/31/2012 7:46:48 PM PST by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: cripplecreek

In European countries they have weird parties like the Christian Democrats, the Greens and so on.

I don’t think we want a coalition government, but without a single-issue third party it devolves to that, I suspect.

I don’t think Conservatives here can quite dominate the GOP, but I had hopes.

I’ll keep plugging through the primaries. We’ll see soon enough, but I fear we can’t turn this system in a survivable direction at this rate.

We know how the book ends, just didn’t want to read the last chapter quite yet.

19 posted on 01/31/2012 7:59:23 PM PST by One Name (Go to the enemy's home court and smoke his ass.)
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To: mnehring

Great approach to the topic, great thread. Thanks.

If the unifying topic is spending less than Federal income, then I propose that the new party be named “Conserve America Party, ( CAP ).”

Slogan: “Put a CAP on Federal Spending.”

Adam Smith and Milton Friedman would be on the list of philosophical fathers, as well as radio announcer Paul Harvey who said: “ WHEN YOUR OUTGO EXCEEDS YOUR INCOME, YOUR UPKEEP WILL BE YOUR DOWNFALL.”

The TEA Party needs to stay as a non-candidate, grass-roots, voting group to act as an advisory check and balance on ANY political party who threatens the chosen tenants of the TEA Party.

20 posted on 01/31/2012 8:14:50 PM PST by Graewoulf (( obama"care" violates the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Law, AND is illegal by the U.S. Constitution.))
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