GOP: From Ripon to San Diego

Sun Journal

August 09, 1996

The Republican Party, which opens its national convention Monday in San Diego, was worried about more than the Democrats when it was formed in 1854 in Ripon, Wis. There were Whigs, the Liberty Party, Free Soilers and Know-Nothings - all doomed to disappear. Within six years, the Republicans had elected a president, and a relatively stable two-party system had been born.

1854-1860 Foundation.

The Republican Party is born in a time when political parties appeared and disappeared quickly, particularly in response to the slavery issue.

1854 Party forms. An organizational meeting is held in Ripon, Wis., in March. In July, a slate of Republican candidates runs in Jackson, Mich. Editor Horace Greeley, who was to become a prominent Republican supporter, is credited with naming the party in June in the New York Tribune. Running candidates throughout the North, the new party won 46 of 234 seats in the House of Representatives.

1856 Feb. 22, party holds first national meeting. At convention in June - not attended by delegates from Southern states - John C. Fremont nominated. Fremont carries 11 states, getting about a third of the vote in a three-way race, establishing the Republicans as a major party.

1860-1932 Dominance

Lincoln's war leadership helps the Republicans become a majority party. Republicans control the White House for 56 of the next years, the Senate for 60 and the House of Representatives for 50.

1860 Abraham Lincoln elected president, with 39.8 percent of the popular vote in a four-way race.

1864 Lincoln renominated in the only Republican convention in Baltimore.

1872 First major party convention in which black delegates participate, including three who deliver speeches from the rostrum. Grant nominated for re-election.

1874 First political cartoon to use the elephant as a symbol for the party, by Thomas Nast, appears in Harper's Weekly.

1880 Sen. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi chosen as temporary chairman, becomes first black to preside at major party convention.

1932-1994: Eclipse and Rebirth

Almost disappearing in the wake of the Depression, the Republicans control both houses of Congress for just four years from 1932 to 1984. However, they win six of 14 presidential

elections in that period.

1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democrats sweep into office.

1936 GOP candidate Alf Landon wins only two states, and the party holds just 89 seats in the House and 17 in the Senate.

1940 First televised convention, from Philadelphia. Wendell Willkie nominated.

1952 Dwight Eisenhower becomes the first Republican president since the Depression, and brings in a GOP majority in both houses of Congress.

1964 At a low point for Republican support, party presidential nominee Barry Goldwater carries just six states. However, Goldwater achieves a breakthrough by carrying five states in the South that have not gone Republican since Reconstruction.

1972 Party begins a period of presidential landslides as Nixon wins 49 states against George McGovern. Gerald Ford loses the presidency to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, but Ronald Reagan wins 44 states against Carter in 1980 and 49 against Walter Mondale in 1984.

1992 After the GOP had won five of six presidential elections, George Bush fails to win re-election.

1994 Republicans win both houses of Congress for first time since 1954.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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