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A History of the Republican Party by Platt

And left disorganized groups of anti Nebraska Whigs


Taking

the popular vote as a criterion of permanent growth, the vote for the Republican presidential candidates, beginning with 1,341,264 for Fremont in 1856, reached the maximum of 7,208,244 for McKinley in 1900, and only once (in 1892) during this entire period did the popular vote for the Republican presidential candidate fail to show an increase over the vote of the preceding election.

The events of the momentous decade before the Civil War (during which period the Republican Party was firmly established), the election of Mr. Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the story of the national development along commercial and financial lines since that period, present the most interesting and vivid chapters of American history. Throughout its history of fifty years, covering the period just mentioned, the Republican Party has a remarkable record for solid and consistent action, resulting universally in national prosperity and honor, and on the three occasions since its formation (1856, 1884 and 1892), when the voters turned away to listen to the teachings of Democracy, the invariable result has been national disaster and humiliation and a retarding of progress.

The Republican Party was organized in the early months of 1854, and the direct formative causes leading to its establishment were the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the efforts on the part of the South, under the leadership of that ambitious politician,

Stephen A. Douglas (with his specious doctrines of non-intervention on the part of the Government, and popular sovereignty), to force slavery into the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, which, by the Compromise of 1820, should have been forever dedicated to freedom. By these efforts it was seen that the South was attempting to make slavery a national instead of a sectional institution, and the situation early in 1854 (after the long series of triumphs of the Slave Power) seemed almost hopeless as far as concerned political opposition to these radical measures was concerned. At this time, and, indeed, for many years past, the Democratic Party was firm and united in its support of slavery, and the course of the Whig Party, intimidated by its southern members, and fearful of civil strife, had been one of subserviency to the exacting demands of slavery. The Whig Party had proven itself totally incapable of meeting the great question of the hour, and after the election of 1852 was on the verge of absolute dissolution.

The astonishing repeal of the Missouri Compromise early in 1854, coming, as it did, in a time of comparative peace on the slavery question, obliterated old party lines in the North completely, and left disorganized groups of anti-Nebraska Whigs, anti-Nebraska Democrats, Free-soilers, Abolitionists, and Know-Nothings, all of whom represented every extreme of the northern views of slavery. But underneath these views was the belief that slavery was a great moral wrong, and that its extension, at least, should be opposed, and from these seemingly discordant elements it became, in fact, an easy matter to organize, in a short time, a strong opposition party to the new aggression of the slave interests.


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