The Republican Party traces its roots to the 1850s, when antislavery leaders (including former members of the Democratic, Whig, and Free-Soil parties) joined forces to oppose the extension of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska territories by the proposed Kansas-Nebraska Act. At meetings in Ripon, Wisconsin (May 1854), and Jackson, Michigan (July 1854), they recommended forming a new party, which was duly established at the political convention in Jackson.
At their first presidential nominating convention in 1856, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont on a platform that called on Congress to abolish slavery in the territories, reflecting a widely held view in the North. Although ultimately unsuccessful in his presidential bid, Frémont carried 11 Northern states and received nearly two-fifths of the electoral vote. During the first four years of its existence, the party rapidly displaced the Whigs as the main opposition to the dominant Democratic Party. In 1860 the Democrats split over the slavery issue, as the Northern and Southern wings of the party nominated different candidates (Stephen A. Douglas and John C. Breckinridge, respectively); the election that year also included John Bell, the nominee of the Constitutional Union Party. Thus, the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was able to capture the presidency, winning 18 Northern states and receiving 60 percent of the electoral vote but only 40 percent of the popular vote. By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration as president, however, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union, and the