What is the Republican Party?

In Ripon, Wisconsin, former members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.

With the successful introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, an act that dissolved the terms of the Missouri Compromise and allowed slave or free status to be decided in the territories by popular sovereignty, the Whigs disintegrated. By February 1854, anti-slavery Whigs had begun meeting in the upper midwestern states to discuss the formation of a new party. One such meeting, in Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, is generally remembered as the founding meeting of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by New York newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. Greeley printed in June 1854: “We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated ‘Whig,’ ‘Free Democrat’ or something else; though we think some simple name like ‘Republican’ would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery.”

On July 6, 1854, just after the anniversary of the nation, an anti-slavery state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan. The hot day forced the large crowd outside to a nearby oak grove. At this “Under the Oaks Convention” the first statewide candidates were selected for what would become the Republican Party.

United by desire to abolish slavery, it was in Jackson that the Platform of the Under the Oaks Convention read: “…we will cooperate and be known as REPUBLICANS…” Prior to July, smaller groups had gathered in intimate settings like the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. However, the meeting in Jackson would be the first ever mass gathering of the Republican Party.

The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What Does GOP Mean?

The initials synonymous with the Republican Party—“GOP”—stand for “grand old party.” As early as the 1870s, politicians and newspapers began to refer to the Republican Party as both the “grand old party” and the “gallant old party” to emphasize its role in preserving the Union during the Civil War.

Safire’s Political Dictionary reports that the Republican’s GOP acronym began to appear in print in 1884. Newspapers in 1936 credited T.B. Dowden, a Cincinnati Gazette typesetter, with coining the initials after receiving a story about 1884 Republican presidential nominee James Blaine shortly before press time that ran too long. “My copy ends with ‘Grand Old Party,’ and I have two words left over after I’ve set the 10 lines. What shall I do?” Dowden asked his foreman. “Abbreviate ’em, use initials, do anything, but hurry up!” came the reply. In a rush, Dowden shortened the name of Blaine’s planned speech from “Achievements of the Grand Old Party” to “Achievements of the GOP.” 

What Is The RNC?

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is a U.S. political committee that leads the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising, election strategy, and a “party brand.” It is also responsible for organizing and running the Republican National Convention. Similar committees exist in every U.S. state and most U.S. counties, although in some states party organization is structured by congressional district, allied campaign organizations being governed by a national committee. 

The 1856 Republican National Convention appointed the first RNC. It consisted of one member from each state and territory to serve for four years. Each national committee since then has followed the precedent of equal representation for each state or territory, regardless of population. From 1924 to 1952, there was a national committeeman and national committeewoman from each state and U.S. possession, and from Washington, D.C. In 1952, committee membership was expanded to include the state party chairs of states that voted Republican in the preceding presidential election, have a Republican majority in their congressional delegation (U.S. representatives and senators), or have Republican governors. By 1968, membership reached 145. As of 2011, the RNC has 168 members.[3]

The only person to have chaired the RNC and later become U.S. president is George H. W. Bush. A number of the chairs of the RNC have been state governors.

In 2013, the RNC began an outreach campaign towards the American youth and minority voters, after studies showed these groups generally perceived that the Republican Party did not care about their concerns.

State Party Membership

Article III – Membership

Membership in this organization shall be open to all Wisconsin residents of voting age who are eligible to vote in any national or state election, who are members in good standing of the Republican county organization in the county of their residence, and who believe in the following objectives of the Republican Party of Wisconsin:

  1. To preserve and advance fundamental Republican principles and policies.
  2. To develop an aggressive and serviceable statewide Republican organization.
  3. To maintain harmony between all Republican organizations.
  4. To maintain control of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in the hands of grassroots Republicans
  5. To preserve our Republican form of government as created under the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin.

“Members in good standing” shall be defined as those who meet the membership requirements specified in this constitution and the constitution of the Republican organization in the county of their residence and pay county party dues. No one may become a member in good standing if they hold a membership in another political party committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission and/or the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.