A Day that Changed the United States: The Birth of a New Party

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A Day that Changed the United States: The Birth of a New Party

On July 6, 1854, the last major political party shift occurred in the United States . It was on this date, in Jackson, Michigan, over 10,000 people attended the first statewide convention for the Republican Party. Prior to this time in American history, the United States political scene was overwhelmingly ruled by the Democratic Party.

The 1850's were a very trying and tumultuous time in America. As the country moved westward as quickly as possible, the ongoing discussion of slavery increased. The Democratic party which started out opposing the Federalist view of a larger central government had become the undisputed rulers in the American government. Groups of people who disagreed with the Democratic views, mainly slavery, were eager to form the new voice in American government. Their slogan would be “free labor, free land, free men”.

States were starting to be admitted into the Union more rapidly and with each addition, there was the debate of whether it would be a slave state or a free state. The Missouri Compromise had been passed in 1820, which stated that new states north of 36°30' would be “free” and states south of the same line would be “slave”. Then in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and gave those settlers the right to choose for themselves if they would allow slavery. This effectively repelled the Missouri Compromise which angered many Americans.

In Ripon, Wisconsin, on March 20, 1854, a group of disgruntled members of the Whig, Democratic and Free-Soilers parties met to discuss the formation of a new party which would stand for smaller government, more individual liberties and foremost, to end the practice of slavery in the United States. The named themselves the Republican Party.

The United States elected their first Republican president on November 6, 1860. That man was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln gained national...