We Believe… the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that
each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be
We Believe… in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for
all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
We Believe… free enterprise and the encouraging individual initiative
have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
We Believe… government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow
individuals to keep more of their own money they earn.
We Believe… the proper role of government is to provide for the people
only those critical functions that cannot be preformed by individuals or
private organizations, and that the best government is that which
We Believe… the most effective, responsible and responsive government is
government closest to the people.
We Believe… Americans must retain the principles that have made us
strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges
of changing times.
We Believe… Americans value and should preserve our national strength
and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights
throughout the world.
We Believe… the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating
these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.
The History of the Republican Party
From the Republican National Committee
The People’s Party
It all started with people who opposed slavery. They were common,
everyday people who bristled at the notion that men had any right to
oppress their fellow man. In the early 1850’s, these anti-slavery
activists found commonality with rugged individuals looking to settle in
western lands, free of government charges. “Free soil, free labor, free
speech, free men,” went the slogan. And it was thus in joint opposition
to human enslavement and government tyranny that an enterprising people
gave birth to the Republican Party.
In 1856, the Republicans became a national party by nominating John C.
Fremont for President. Four years later, with the election of Abraham
Lincoln in 1860, the Republicans firmly established themselves as a
major political party. The name “Republican” was chosen because it
alluded to equality and reminded individuals of Thomas Jefferson’s
All of Us Equal
In 1861, the Civil War erupted, lasting four grueling years. During the
war, against the advice of his cabinet, President Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. The Republicans of the
day worked to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery; the
Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed equal protection under the laws;
and the Fifteenth, which helped secure voting rights for
African-Americans. All of these accomplishments extended and cemented
the fundamental freedoms our nation continues to enjoy today.
The Republican Party also played a leading role in securing women the
right to vote. In 1896, the Republican Party was the first major
political party to support 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. So it was by hardworking Republican hands that color and gender
barriers were first demolished in America.
Free from Oppression
Republicans believe individuals, not government, can make the best
decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are
best made close to home. These basic principles are as true today as
they were when the Party was founded. For all of the extraordinary
leaders the Party has produced throughout its rich history, Republicans
understand that everyday people in all 50 states and territories remain
the heart and soul of our Party.
Presidents during most of the late nineteenth century and the early part
of the twentieth century were Republicans. The White House was in
Republican hands under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon,
Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Under
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the United States won the
Cold War, releasing millions from Communist oppression, in true anti-big
government Republican spirit.
Elephants, Not Donkeys
symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. During the mid term
elections in 1874, Democrats tried to scare voters into thinking
President Ulysses S. Grant would seek to run for an unprecedented third
term. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, depicted a
Democratic donkey trying to scare a Republican elephant – and both
symbols stuck. For a long time, Republicans have been known as the “G.O.P.”
with party faithful believing it meant the “Grand Old Party.” But
apparently the original meaning (in 1875) was “gallant old party.” When
automobiles were invented it also came to mean, “get out and push.”
That’s still a pretty good slogan for Republicans who depend every
campaign year on the hard work of hundreds of thousands of everyday
volunteers to get out and vote and push people to support the causes of
the Republican Party.
Abolition. Free speech. Women’s suffrage. These were all causes the
Republican Party adopted early on. So, too, were reducing the size of
government, streamlining bureaucracy, and returning power to individual
states. With a core belief in the primacy of individuals, the Republican
Party, since its inception, has been at the forefront of the fight for
individuals’ rights in opposition to a large, intrusive government.