Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
REPUBLICAN PARTY (IN
—I.: 1854-61. But one party, the democratic, emerged unbroken, and even increased, from the storm which was settled by the compromise of 1850. For the next five years there were only feeble and discordant efforts to oppose it, by the free-soilers on the slavery question, by the whigs on economic issues, and by the know-nothings on the question of suffrage. The dominant party itself struck the sudden and sharp blow which, in 1854, crystallized the jarring elements of opposition into a single party. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill (see that title), not imperatively demanded by the southern democracy, a quixotic adherence to party dogma by the northern democracy, only served to rouse a general alarm throughout the north. The summer and autumn of 1854 became an era of coalitions in most of the northern states; and the result of the congressional elections of that year was that the "anti-Nebraska men," as the coalitionists were called, obtained a plurality in the house over the democrats and the distinct know-nothings, and elected the speaker. A few members, elected as anti-Nebraska men, turned out to be consistent know-nothings; the remainder, however, still controlled the house.
—The elements which went to make up the new party were very various and numerous. 1. Its immediate ancestor was the free-soil party which joined it bodily. Of its first leaders, Hale, Julian, Chase, C. F. Adams, Sumner, Wilmot, F. P. Blair, and Preston King of New York, were of this class. Many of these like Chase, were naturally democrats, but had been forced into opposition to their party by its unnecessary deference to the feelings of its southern wing. 2. But these alone could not have formed the basis of a new party. This was supplied by former whigs, either originally antislavery, or forced into that attitude by the compromise of 1850. Of this class, Lincoln, Seward, Greeley, Fessenden, Thaddeus Stevens, Sherman, Dayton, Corwin of Ohio, and Collamer of Vermont, were fair examples. This element, being much the more numerous and influential, controlled the policy of the new party on other points than slavery, and made it a broad-construction party, inclined toward a protective tariff, internal improvements, and government control over banking. 3. Much less numerous was the class, which, originally whig or democratic, had at first entered the know-nothing organization, but drifted into the new party as the struggle against slavery grew hotter. Of this class, Wilson, Banks, Burlingame, Colfax, and Henry Winter Davis, were examples, though some of them had been free-soilers as well as know-nothings. 4. In, but not of, the new party, were the original abolitionists, led by Giddings and Lovejoy in congress, and Garrison and Wendell Phillips out of congress. These were the guerrillas of the party, for whose utterances it did not hold itself responsible, and who were yet always leading it into a stronger opposition to slavery. 5. A fifth class, not so numerous as the second, but fully as important from a party point of view, came directly from the democratic party, Hamlin, Cameron of Pennsylvania, Trumbull of Illinois, Doolittle of Wisconsin, Montgomery Blair, Wm. C. Bryant of New York, and Gideon Wells of Connecticut, being examples. These, and the rank and file represented by them, brought into the new party that feeling of dependence upon the people, and of consideration for the feelings, and even the prejudices, of the people, which the whig party had always lacked. They made the new party a popular party, as the original democrats had made the original republicans a popular party. 6. Last, and generally temporary in their connection, were the "war democrats," who united with the republicans during the war of the rebellion, such as Andrew Johnson, B. F. Butler, Stanton, Holt of Kentucky, McClernand and Logan of Illinois, and Dix, Dickinson, Lyman Tremain, Cochrane and Sickles of New York. Many of these dropped out again after the end of the rebellion; though some, as Butler, Stanton and Logan, were more permanent in their connection.
—The unification of all these elements was evidently a difficult and delicate operation, and was only made possible by the transcendent interest in the restriction of slavery; but the fortunate adoption of the name republican, endeared by tradition to former democrats, and not at all objectionable to former whigs, aided materially in the work. Wilson states that this name was settled upon by a meeting of some thirty members of the house, on the day after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, that is, May 23, 1854; and that the leader of the meeting, Israel Washburn, of Maine, began using the term immediately as a party name. Another contemporaneous movement was in Ripon, Wisconsin, where the name was suggested at a coalition meeting, March 20, 1854, and formally adopted at the state convention in July. The first official adoption of the name is believed to have been at the convention at Jackson, Michigan, July 6, 1854. During this and the next month it was also adopted by state conventions in Maine Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, and may be considered as fairly established, though it was not recognized in congress until the beginning of the next year.
—In its first year of existence the new party obtained popular majorities in fifteen of the thirty-one states, and elected eleven United States senators and a plurality of the house of representatives. But these successes were mainly in the west; the eastern states, and particularly New England, resisted the entrance of the new party with tenacity, and kept up the whig and know-nothing organizations through the presidential election of 1856. In December, 1855, the state committees of Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin and Michigan issued a call for a convention at Pittsburg, Feb. 22, 1856, to complete a national organization. This step was sufficient to show that the new party contained an element which distinguished it from the whig party. This convention selected a national committee, and called a national convention at Philadelphia, June 17. When this convention met, it was found to be a free-state body, with the exception of delegations from Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky. The platform adopted declared the party opposed to the repeal of the Missouri compromise, to the extension of slavery to free territory, and to the refusal to admit Kansas as a free state; it declared that the power of congress over the national territory was sovereign, and should be exerted "to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery"; it denounced the Ostend manifesto (see that title); and declared in favor of a Pacific railroad, and of "appropriations by congress for the improvement of rivers and harbors of a national character" Nothing was said of the tariff. On the first ballot for a candidate for president, Fremont had 359 votes, McLean 196, Sumner 2, and Seward 1; and on the second ballot Fremont was nominated unanimously. On the informal ballot for a candidate for vice-president, Dayton received 259 votes. Lincoln 110, Banks 46, Wilmot 43; Sumner 35, and 53 were scattering; and on the formal ballot Dayton was unanimously nominated. Fremont's nomination was intended to gratify the free-soil and democratic elements of the party, to provide a popular rallying cry, "free soil, free speech, free men, and Fremont," to present a candidate free from antagonisms on the slavery question, and thus to win votes on all sides. Dayton's nomination was the whig share of the result. Fremont was defeated (see
—The election of 1856 ended the party's first flood tide. The congressional elections of that year were so far unfavorable that there were but 92 republicans out of 237 members in the congress of 1857-9. In the development of a separate organization the coalition had sloughed off all its doubtful members, and had become fairly compacted and complete. Before the next congressional elections the disruption of the know-nothing organization in the northern states, the decision in the Dred Scott case (see that title), and the Lecompton bill (see
—When the national convention met at Chicago, May 16, 1860, the hopes of the party were high. its organization complete, and its character for the future determined. Its elements had been so welded together that the division lines had almost disappeared; but so far as it remained, it was certain that the old whig element would now take the leading nomination and control the general policy of the party, while the old democratic element would be content with the second nomination and the comfortable consciousness of familiar methods in party management. The delegates were from the free states, with the exception of the delegates from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky, and a fraudulent delegation from Texas. The platform was much like that of 1856, except that the conjunction of polygamy and slavery, peculiarly exasperating to the south, was dropped; a homestead law, and protection for domestic manufactures in arranging the tariff, were demanded; and democratic threats of secession and disunion were denounced. For the first place on the ticket, Seward was strongly supported, and he was as strongly opposed, for the assigned reason that his anti-slavery struggle had made him an unavailable candidate; but much of the opposition to him came from the mysterious ramifications of factions in New York. On the first ballot, Seward had 173½ votes, Lincoln 102, Cameron 50½, Chase 49, Bates 48, and 42 were scattering; on the second, Seward 184½, Lincoln 181, Chase 42½, Bates 35, and 22 were scattering; and on the third, Lincoln 231½, Seward 180, and 53½ were scattering. Before another ballot could be taken, votes were so changed as to give Lincoln 354 votes, and he was nominated. For vice-president, on the first ballot, Hamlin had 194 votes, C. M. Clay 101½, and 165½ were scattering; on the second, Hamlin had 367 votes to 99 for others, and was nominated.
—In the campaign which followed, the party employed popular methods still more effectively than in 1856. With the exception of the ignominious success of 1840, no previous party had met the democratic party on its own ground. No appeal that could be made to the attention of the people was neglected; monster wigwams, and long processions of "wide awakes" with torches, transparencies and music, attracted listeners to the political speeches; and for these the party could now command at least as high an order of ability as its opponents. Its candidates obtained the votes of all the free states, except three from New Jersey, and were elected. (See
—II.: 1861-9. No dominant party ever passed through such a trying experience as did the republican party during the rebellion. Its majority in congress was only due to the absence of southern representatives; and, even with this aid, its majority in the house was hardly preserved in the congress of 1863-5. Nevertheless the management of the party was generally wise and successful. The extreme anti-slavery element was held in check; and, to secure the co-operation of the small but essential percentage of "war democrats," the name "Union party" was adopted, and other measures of conciliation were contrived. Lincoln, in particular, was obnoxious both to the extreme radicals, who disliked his temporizing policy, and to the more timid members of the party, who feared the effects of his emancipation proclamation. Efforts were made to obtain the nomination of Chase, partly as a vindication of the "one-term policy," partly as a rebuke of "presidential patronage," and partly to secure a more careful management of the currency; but the republican members of the Ohio legislature declared for Lincoln's renomination, and this seems to have ended the Chase movement. A more turbulent but less formidable reaction was a convention of "radical men" at Cleveland, May 31, 1864, which nominated Fremont and John Cochrane of New York, and demanded a more vigorous prosecution of the war, the confiscation of the estates of rebels, and their distribution among soldiers and actual settlers. The candidates accepted the nominations, but withdrew before the election.
—In the mass of the party there was no hesitation. When the "Union national convention" met at Baltimore, June 7, 1864, Lincoln was renominated by acclamation after an informal ballot of 492 votes for him and 22 for Grant. To conciliate the war democrats, one of their number was to be nominated for vice-president, and the choice lay between Andrew Johnson and Daniel S. Dickinson of New York. On the first ballot Johnson had 200 votes, Hamlin 145, and Dickinson 113; but votes were at once changed to Johnson, and his nomination was made unanimous. The platform approved the unconditional prosecution of the war, the acts and proclamations aimed at slavery, the proposed 13th amendment abolishing slavery, the policy of President Lincoln, the construction of the Pacific railroad, the redemption of the public debt, and the enforcement of the Monroe doctrine in Mexico. For a little space during the summer the constant slight checks to the national armies threw a cloud over the prospects of republican success; but before the election a general and triumphant forward movement of the army and navy made Lincoln's election a certainty (see
—And yet, immediately after the close of the rebellion, the party was to undergo a more severe, because more insidious, test of its steadiness. A succession of exciting events, the assassination of President Lincoln, the offer of rewards for the chiefs of the confederacy and their hurried flight toward the seacoast, the long funeral of the dead president, and the trial of the conspirators in the assassination, appealed directly to the wild justice of revenge; and the appeal was to be resisted, if at all, by republican equilibrium of mind, for the opposition was almost silenced for the time. It is fair to say that the test was endured successfully, and that there was no general desire for sweeping vengeance upon the conquered. Men rather felt a strong sense of relief when the excitement subsided, business was allowed to take its wonted course again, and political problems were remanded to the federal government for consideration.
—This sense of relief was not to be permanent. Congress was not in session until December, 1865, and in the meantime the president actively began his policy of reconstruction. (See
—It is evident now that this was the universal and deliberately formed programme of the party, and that the party was not forced into it by ultra leaders. These, on the contrary, were steadily held in check during the session of 1865-6, until the veto of the civil rights bill showed the president's intention to insist on the admission of the seceding states to representation without "substantial guarantees." Even then the party majority in congress were content with the passage over the veto of the two bills named above, and the passage of the 14th amendment, as a base of future operations; they then adjourned and left the issue between themselves and the president to the decision of the party.
—The decision was promptly given. The republican state conventions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania pronounced against the president's policy, and declared that reconstruction must be effected by "the law-making power of the government." The other republican states were mainly silent because no state conventions were held; in not one of them was the president's policy approved. On the contrary, the approval came from the democratic party, whose leaders united with the president's republican and war democratic supporters in a national convention at Philadelphia, Aug. 14, 1866, commonly called the "arm-in-arm convention," from the manner in which the Massachusetts and South Carolina delegates entered it. In some states, as in Connecticut, the federal office-holders openly supported the democratic candidates, with the formal approval of the president, but the intact and vigorous republican organizations were successful. The result of the elections of 1866 left every state north of Mason and Dixon's line with a strong republican majority in the legislature, and a republican governor. Still more important, they gave the republicans in the next congress an unequivocal majority of all its members: 42 to 11 in the senate, and 143 to 49 in the house. If all the southern states had been represented by democrats, the republican majority would still have been 42 to 33 in the senate, and 143 to 99 in the house; until the southern states were represented, the republican majority was sufficient to override the president's veto in every case, and congress could shape legislation at its will for two years to come.
—The republican national committee expelled its president, Henry J. Raymond of New York, and two of its members, who had taken sides with the president, and war was fairly declared. The president's utter want of tact and discretion undoubtedly made the republican victory over him easier, but it would probably have been nearly as complete in any event. His obstinate refusal to make any terms only resulted in making the terms accorded to the seceding states more severe, and the work of reconstruction was carried out by congress with hardly any thought of the president, except as an obstructive. (See
—It has been said that the party forced its congressional majority into reconstruction, and was not forced into it by its ultra leaders. Nevertheless, it is certain that these leaders, during the struggle, used the president's denunciations of congress to carry counteraction unnecessarily far. The president had used without scruple his powers of appointment and removal to reward his friends and punish his enemies; and the civil service was thus made an instrument of offense against the dominant party. The course of events is elsewhere detailed. (See
—The national convention at Chicago, May 20, 1868, fully approved the reconstruction policy of congress; declared that the public faith should be kept as to the national debt, not only according to the letter, but according to the spirit of the laws by which it was contracted, but that the rate of interest should be reduced whenever it could be done honestly; and condemned the acts of President Johnson in detail. Nothing was said of the tariff. For president, Grant was unanimously nominated on the first ballot. For vice-president, the struggle was mainly between Wade, Colfax, Wilson, and Fenton of New York. On the first ballot, Wade had 149 votes, Fenton 132, Wilson 119, Colfax 118, and all others 132. On the fifth ballot, Colfax had 224 votes, Wade 196, Fenton 137, Wilson 61, and all others 32. So many votes were then changed to Colfax that he had 541 to 109 for all others, and was nominated. The candidates were elected without special difficulty. (See
—III.: 1869-83. With Grant's election the party may at last be considered homogeneous and self-existent, with no trace of borrowed traditions. Distinctions within the party, arising from former political affiliations, had disappeared. Those who still felt their influence, like Seward, Chase, Welles, Trumbull and Doolittle, had generally dropped out during the reconstruction and impeachment struggles; and a new generation, not only of voters, but of leaders, had arisen, who knew only the tenets of the party, and were not embarrassed by former whig, democratic, free-soil or know-nothing bias. Among these new men were Morton, Blaine, Garfield, Conkling, Sherman, Schurz, Edmunds of Vermont, Dawes and Hoar of Massachusetts, Morgan of New York, Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Kelley of Pennsylvania, Bingham, Shellabarger, Ashley and Schenck of Ohio, Chandler and Ferry of Michigan, Carpenter of Wisconsin, and Yates and Washburne of Illinois. These, and a host of others, while they had practically ousted the original leaders, retained the peculiar combination of whig principles and democratic methods which had resulted from the original amalgamation, and were now to show whether they could make the party a popular broad-construction party in internal administration, as well as in the suppression of slavery.
—The first problem which they were to meet was the condition of the southern states. The grant of the right of suffrage to the recently enfranchised negroes had been completed by the process of reconstruction. If it was to be maintained, it must be by the vigor of the negroes themselves in defending it, by federal support to the reconstructed state governments in defending it, or by a constitutional amendment authorizing negroes to defend it. The first method was impracticable; if it had been otherwise, it would itself have been a full vindication of the educating influences of the system of slavery. The second method was adopted by legislation and executive action (see
—The national convention met at Philadelphia, June 5, 1872. Its platform reviewed the past achievements of the party; demanded the maintenance of "complete liberty and exact equality in the enjoyment of all civil, political and public rights throughout the Union"; commended congress and the president for their suppression of ku-klux disorders; and promised to adjust the tariff duties so as "to aid in securing remunerative wages to labor, and promote the growth, industries and prosperity of the whole country." This latter paragraph was the first official announcement of protectionist doctrines since 1860, but its place had always been effectually filled by the resolutions of state conventions, and by the consistent policy of the party in congress. For president, Grant was renominated by acclamation. For vice-president, Wilson was nominated by 364½ votes to 321½ for Colfax. The candidates were elected with even less difficulty than in 1868. (See
—Nevertheless, there was still considerable dissatisfaction in the party. The close of Grant's first term and the beginning of his second were marked by a succession of public scandals, arising mainly from his own inexperience in civil administration and the derelictions of many of his appointees. (See
—The national convent on met at Cincinnati, June 14, 1876. The platform differed from that of 1872 mainly in its stronger indorsement of civil service reform; in its demand for "a continuous and steady progress to specie payments": in its denunciation of polygamy in the territories, of "a united south," and of the democratic party in general; and in its declaration in favor of "the immediate and vigorous exercise of all the constitutional powers of the president and congress for removing any just causes of discontent on the part of any class, and for securing to every American citizen complete liberty and exact equality." Much apprehension had been expressed as to President Grant's supposed intention to use the party machinery to compass his own nomination for a third term, but when the convention met he was not a candidate. The leading candidates were Conkling and Morton, representing the adherents of the administration; Bristow, representing the opposition to the administration; and Blaine, with a positive strength of his own, independent of all southern questions. On the first ballot, Blaine had 285 votes, Morton 124, Bristow 113, Conkling 99, Hayes 61, and all others 72. On the sixth ballot, Blaine had 308 votes, Hayes 113, Bristow 111, Morton 85, Conkling 81, and all others 56. On the seventh ballot, there was a general break. Of Bristow's votes, 21 adhered to him; Blaine's vote rose to 351; the adherents of all the other candidates transferred their votes to Hayes, and he was nominated by 384 votes out of 756. For vice-president, Wheeler had hardly any opposition. The candidates were elected, but only after a struggle which is elsewhere detailed. (See
—The discovery of the "cipher telegrams" (see
—The national convention met at Chicago, June 10, 1880. As Grant had been out of office for four years, his nomination was now considered unexceptionable by many, and a plurality of the delegates came to the convention pledged to vote for him. (See
—The result of the election seems to show a very considerable party advantage in a policy of devotion to economic principles. In 1876, after eight years of a vigorous repressive policy in southern disorders, the republican candidates were only successful by a single electoral vote, and the honesty of the success was denied by the whole opposition party. In 1880, after four years of simple endeavor to settle the economic problems which pressed for settlement, the party's candidates were elected beyond cavil, by 214 electoral votes to 155. And, further, a forged letter (the so-called Morey letter) appeared just before the election, purporting to come from Garfield, and advising the encouragement of Chinese immigration in order to bring American servants and mechanics to a more manageable condition. This forgery undoubtedly cost Garfield the five votes of California, the three votes of Nevada, and probably the nine votes of New Jersey. Without it, the result would have been 231 to 135, and the party would have had the entire northern and western vote, for the first time in its history. It is also noteworthy that the prospects of possible republican success in southern states, without federal coercion, date wholly from Hayes' administration. (See
—Before and after President Garfield's assassination, (see
—Authorities will generally be found under the articles referred to. See also, 2 Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 406; 1 Greeley's American Conflict, 246; McClellan's Republicanism in America (to 1869); Giddings' History of the Rebellion, 382; Smalley's History of the Republican Party (to 1882); Johnston's History of American Politics, 162; Tribune Almanac, 1855-83; Greeley's Political Text Book of 1860; McPherson's Political History of the Rebellion, and Political Manuals; Moore's Rebellion Record; Schuckers' Life of Chase; Raymond's Life of Lincoln, and other authorities under names referred to; Spofford's American Almanac, 1868-83; Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia, 1861-83; The Nation, 1865-83; and current newspapers.
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