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The Republican Party was born in the early 1850s by anti-slavery activists and individuals who believed that government should grant western lands to settlers free of charge The first informal meeting of the party took place in Ripon Wisconsin a small town northwest of Milwaukee 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 Jeffersons Democratic-Republican Party At the Jackson convention the new party adopted a platform and nominated candidates for office in Michigan 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 Even though they were considered a third party because the Democrats and Whigs represented the two-party system at the time Fremont received 33 of the vote Four years later Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White House The Civil War erupted in 1861 and lasted four grueling years During the 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 womens 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 tended to dominate American politics in the 1930s and 40s
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