The Republican Party Overall Issues Essay

The Republican Party: Overall Issues Essay, Research Paper The Republican Party: Overall Issues, 1860-1868 The Republican party during the 1860’s was known as the party more

The Republican Party: Overall Issues Essay, Research Paper

The Republican Party: Overall Issues, 1860-1868

The Republican party during the 1860’s was known as the party more

concerned with “civil rights” and the common American. This came about through

a series of sweeping changes in the party that occurred during two major time

periods: the 1860-1864 and 1864-1868. The changes in the party reflected the

attitude in the North as opposed to the confederate, democratic South. The main

issue that divided the two was slavery and its implications for control of the


The best illustration of the party’s anti-slavery sentiment (as

contrasted to abolitionism) in 1860, is the fact that although the party was

against slavery , it refused to attempt to stamp it out of the regions it was

already present. For example, in the Republican Party Platform for 1860, the

party states its abhorrence for slavery and declares that slavery should not be

instituted into new territories, but it never tries to outlaw it from Southern


“That the normal conditions of all the territory of the United States is

that of freedom…and we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial

legislature or of any individuals, to give existence to Slavery in any Territory

of the United States.”

In the first four years of the 1860’s, the North and South waged war

over these issues, with the Republican North emerging victorious. The

Republicans took charge of the national political power. Although he worked

with an anti-slavery platform, President Lincoln attempted to make a generous

peace with the South, with hopes of expanding the power of the Republican party

with support from the South. Examples of this can be found in the fact that

Confederate officials were not barred from public office, compensation for lost

slaves was not ruled out and Lincoln hinted that he would be generous with

pardons to rebel leaders. With the Emancipation Proclamation, the Republicans

gained freedom for slaves, but not social or political equality.

During the years of 1864-1868, the Republican platform again changed

with the public opinion in the North to one of abolition. In the platform for

the National Union Convention, the party affirmed its support for an Amendment

to “terminate and forever prohibit the existence of slavery within the limits or

jurisdiction of the United States.” The 13th Amendment confirmed the death of

slavery. However, the so-called “Black Codes” that Southern governments

implemented forced abolitionist Republicans in Congress to clash with President

Andrew Johnson over the passage of a new Freedmen’s Bureau bill and a Civil

Rights Act. This clash signified a division between the old Republican values

of tolerance and the new platform of slave rights. This led to the passage of

the 14th amendment, which declared all slaves as citizens and defined their

voting privileges as equal to every other citizen. The radical republicans had

achieved their goal. With freedmen able to vote, the Republic party would be

able to carry more of the Southern states in elections and maintain control.

Near the end of the Reconstruction Era, the Republican party underwent

even more changes. With the slavery issue settled in their eyes, scandals in

the party, and the threat of violence from various hate groups keeping freedmen

from voting, its attentions began to turn elsewhere. The metamorphosis that the

party underwent through the 1860’s was a direct result of the popular opinion in

the North at the time. As the detestment of slavery grew in the North, so did

the Republican legislation grow more severe against it, starting with the party

platforms and ending with the ratification of the 14th Amendment.