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A political party that began in 1854 and is today one of the two major political parties in the United States. Originally, it was composed mainly of northerners from both major parties of the time, the Democrats and the Whigs, with some former Know-Nothings as well. The first Republicans were united by their opposition to the expansion of slavery. Their first winning presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
One of the two major political parties in the United States. The party began in 1854 (see under “American History to 1865”); Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was the first Republican president. During Reconstruction, many Republicans were eager to punish the South for its former slaveholding and for its secession from the United States. The northern Republicans, for example, supported carpetbaggers in southern governments. After Reconstruction, the Republicans favored a high protective tariff and were generally considered the defenders of northeastern and business interests. The party supported the Spanish-American War and the expansion of United States territory overseas. Some Republicans were part of the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century. In the 1920s, the party reestablished its reputation for supporting business and as being wary of any expansion of the place of government in national life. This characterization is still a reasonably accurate, if simplistic, description of basic Republican views. Since Lincoln, the Republican presidents have been Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
Note: The party is often called the GOP, which stands for “Grand Old Party.”