The Republican Party, founded in 1854, stands as an institutionalized moral representation of its original founding purpose. The Republican Party emerged as such to stand as a coalition opposing slavery by anti-slavery activists. The party fought against the expansion of slavery and fought to protect the rights of African Americans in the years directly following the Civil War in the United States.
It was not until the 1860 presidential election of Abraham Lincoln, where Republican policies could be properly implemented in the government and put into action. Lincoln was the first Republican president to be elected to office, with his lasting legacy aligning with core Republican values. Lincoln’s impact was monumental, with his main contributions being abolishing slavery, modernizing the economy, and strengthening the federal government. Lincoln famously issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, an executive order that freed 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the United States of America. This order was profoundly transformative to the free country we know today. The Emancipation Proclamation not only freed enslaved people but also set a standard for what we now expect of our country: the right to freedom for all. Lincoln bolstered this notion of freedom and declared the government’s power void in determining who is free. The order came at a time of extreme civil unrest where the country was unprecedently divided. Lincoln’s success in abolishing slavery was not only a moral triumph but also one of unity. The abolishment of slavery helped to bolster a strong sense of nationalism and was a critical point in American history.
Due to the importance and impact of his time in office, Lincoln’s presidency is referred to as the first of three critical elections in American history by political scientists.
The Republican party continued to mark its stamp on American history in 1896 when William McKinley was elected as president, along with Republicans having a large majority in congress. This time period was crucial in solidifying the Republican party as the party of low taxes, conservative social policies, and anti-government intervention in the economy. These values became ingrained in Republican ideology and solidified it as the party of the people that stood against big government breaching its power over the people. The presidency of McKinley became known as the second most critical election in American history.
The 1900s in America was a time of major shifts in government, both through domestic and international affairs. The presidency of Ronald Reagan, lasting from 1981-1989, introduced major economic shifts within the country. With newly proposed tax cuts, government deregulation, and increased military spending to combat the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Reagan’s presidency set a strong precedent of America-first values. The success of Reagan’s take on the economy showcased the successes of Republican policies on the economy, with 20 million jobs being created during his presidency, as well as inflation and unemployment rates dropping exponentially.
These major presidencies set the stage for what we now know as the modern-day republican party.
Due to its original purpose being one of fighting against an institution that moved to take away human rights from a marginalized group of people, the Republican Party stands as an opposition to strong government control. The party, as we know it today, acts around the ideologies of favoring smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, a free-market economy, and less federal intervention in the economy. These stances serve to benefit the American people so as to give the people more power against the government. Under Republican policies, the people are the ones in control of their own government, which stands as a lasting move by the party to avoid any future government overreach as was seen during the party’s inception. The Republican party has always fought for the right of the American people to have their own sovereignty over their government and encourages the installation of representatives that work for and with the people, not over them. With Republican policies, there is a more free, more equal American public.
The Republican party was founded to create a more equal and successful society, and it has continued since its inception to fight for those same morals.