The Republican Party is one of two big political parties in the United States. It was started in 1854 by a group of citizens who opposed letting slavery into the Western Territories of the country. It is sometimes called the Grand Old Party or GOP.
During the 1840s, the Democratic Party and the Whig Party disagreed over letting slavery into the new Western Territories. Members of the Whig Party, Free-Soilers, and anti-slave Democrats decided to create an anti-slavery party. That new group became the Republican Party.
The 1860 presidential election put the newly formed Republicans in the national spotlight. Their candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the election and became the 16th president. He didn’t win any support from the Southern states, but won in the Electoral College due to support from the Northern and Western states.
The Civil War soon broke out, after seven Southern states left the Union. Lincoln was not willing to let them leave and so war began. The Republicans began to see the issue of slavery as a way to help them end the war. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and helped pass the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States.
After the war, the Republicans pushed laws to ensure civil rights for black Americans – including the right for black men to vote. But the party also began focusing on big business in the North. The party lost support during the Great Depression in the 1920s-30s because people saw them as rich and not for the common man.
The Republicans got stronger again after the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. From 1980 until 2016 two Democrats and four Republicans have been elected president.
Some Famous Republicans
Abraham Lincoln: The first Republican president, Lincoln is one of America’s most beloved presidents because he abolished slavery. He didn’t have much education, but he gave one of the most famous speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address. He was the first U.S. president to be assassinated.
Donald Trump: Elected in 2016, Trump was a rich businessman. He surprised most Americans by deciding to run for the presidency in 2016, and many people were shocked that he won.
Ronald Reagan: Reagan worked as a Hollywood movie actor. Later on, he became governor of California and was then elected the 40th U.S. president. Today he is most famous for his role in ending the Cold War and for his ideas about the economy.