On the evening of March 20, 1854, Avan Bovay, Eastern Newspaper publisher Horace Greeley, and a group of people walked into the Little White Schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. They met informally in protest of the opening of the Kansas and Nebraska territories to slavery and in support of their belief that the government should grant Western lands to settlers free of charge. They were tired of slavery, tired of the underestimation of people, and tired of the failure of the U.S. Congress to uphold the cause of freedom in the West. So they came together disbanding the Wigs Party to form a new anti-slavery party and renamed themselves Republicans. Avan Bovay later wrote, “We went into the little meeting as Wigs, Free Soilers, and Democrats. We came out as Republicans the first in the Union.” It was his friend Horace Greeley who boosted the name to national prominence.
The first official Republican meeting took place on July 6th, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan.The name “Republican” was chosen because it alluded to equality and reminded individuals of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.
In 1856, the Republicans became a national party when John C. Fremont was nominated for President under the slogan: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Four years later, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White House.
During the Civil War, against the advice of his cabinet, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. The Republicans of their day worked to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery, the Fourteenth, which guaranteed equal protection under the laws, and the Fifteenth, which helped secure voting rights for African-Americans.
The Republican Party also played a leading role in securing women the right to vote. In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women’s suffrage. When the 19th Amendment finally was added to the Constitution, 26 of 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control. The first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917.
Presidents during most of the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century were Republicans. While the Democrats and Franklin Roosevelt dominated American politics in the 1930′s and 40′s, for 28 of the forty years from 1952 through 1992, the White House was in Republican hands – under Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush. Under the last two, Reagan and Bush, the United States became the world’s only superpower, winning the Cold War from the old Soviet Union and releasing millions from Communist oppression.
Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles: Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home.
The symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. During the midterm elections in 1874, Democrats tried to scare voters into thinking President Grant would seek to run for an unprecedented third term. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, depicted a Democratic jackass trying to scare a Republican elephant – and both symbols stuck.
FROM SADDLE BAGS TO SATELLITES
REPUBLICAN WOMEN LEADING THE WAY
STEP INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
The King’s Highway Republican Women’s E-Club
Our Colonial Heritage
The “King’s Highway” was the first north-south transportation route through Virginia linking the northern and southern colonies. Following an ancient Indian trail, the Potomac Path as it was first known, was first cleared in the 17th Century. It quickly became of great importance for overland travel linking the colonies, in the early days of the Republic, in the Civil War, continuing on into the 19th Century, the 20th Century, and today in the 21st Century.
Travelers along the route often stopped in Prince William County at the Woodbridge plantation of George Mason; Ripon Lodge, home of Colonel Richard Blackburn; and the Stage Coach Inn, at the Port of Dumfries. In 1781, Generals George Washington and Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau used the King’s Highway to reach Yorktown with their cavalry troops and wagons. Eighty years later, Federal and Confederate troops followed the road during numerous Civil War Campaigns and played a role in the Underground Railway. In the 21st Century, the route still plays a major role in east coast north-south travel. Just east of Ripon Landing in Woodbridge is the only preserved segment of King’s Highway located on Route One.
Just as the King’s Highway was the first over land north-south transportation route linking the early American colonies by saddle bags and stage coach, the King’s Highway Republican Woman’s E-Club is the first E-Club in the State of Virginia, to link empowerment of Republican women of all ages and backgrounds in the political process, through the unique benefit of travel on the “Virtual Highway” linking members through 21st Century information technology, circuit boards and satellites.