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Parties > Party 200

About the Republican Party
The Republican party was formed in 1854 by Northern abolitionists, after the collapse of the Whig Party over the issue of slavery. The party took a strong stance against slavery and its expansion into the new US territories. The party quickly became the dominant opposition to the Democratic Party, winning second place in the 1856 election. In the 1860 election, Republican Congressman Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, running against the expansion of slavery into US territories. During the civil war, Lincoln declared that slavery was no longer legal in the Confederate States, and later he helped pass constitutional amendments ending slavery and declaring birthright citizenship. After the end of the war and Lincoln’s assassination, the Republican Party began to align itself with the big businesses that had grown during the industrial revolution. The party backed off of its strong civil rights stance when Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes, as part of a deal to have himself voted President by the House of Representatives, declared the end of reconstruction in the South, leading to the passage of Jim Crow laws limiting African-American civil rights. Regionally, the party was aligned with the Midwest and the North in its early years, both because of their Union alignment in the civil war (Southern white voters despised the party because of the war and the Union forces it represented) and because of the strong industrial presence in those areas. The Republican party was the dominant party in American politics in the decades between the civil war and the great depression. During that time, some Republicans, like President Theodore Roosevelt, were economically progressive and against business monopolization, while others, like President Herbert Hoover, were far more pro-business and strong believers in free markets. During the administration of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with the large expansion of social benefit programs, the Republican Party began to define itself in opposition to “big government” programs like the ones pushed by Roosevelt. During the 1964 Presidential Election, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater opposed the implementation of the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that it infringed on states’ rights, shifting the party away from its original support of civil rights. In the 1970s and especially during the 1980s, the Republican Party began to align itself with the evangelical church and cultural issues, such as opposition to both abortion and gay marriage. Today the party is to the right of the Democratic Party on social and economic issues, supportive of business and “traditional” values.

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