GOP History

The History

The Nevada Republican Club would not exist without the Republican National Committee (RNC) also known as the GOP or Grand Old Party. It began in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 when a small group of abolitionists gathered to fight the expansion of slavery. They gave birth to a Party dedicated to freedom and equal opportunity.

The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying the commitment to inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Party was formally organized in July of 1854 at a convention in Jackson, Michigan. The first Republican National Convention took place two years later, in 1856 in Philadelphia, where the United States Constitution was written.

March 1854. First Republican Party meeting held in Ripon, Wisconsin.

GOP Elephant

The earliest connection of the elephant to the Republican Party was an illustration in an 1864 Abraham Lincoln presidential campaign newspaper, Father Abraham. It showed an elephant holding a banner and celebrating Union victories. During the Civil War, “seeing the elephant” was slang for engaging in combat so the elephant was a logical choice to represent successful battles.

The elephant appeared again in an 1872 issue of Harper’s Weekly where it depicted Liberal Republicans.

The elephant image didn’t start to take hold as a GOP symbol until Thomas Nast, who’s considered the father of the modern political cartoon, used it in an 1874 Harper’s Weekly cartoon. Titled “The Third-Term Panic,” Nast’s drawing mocked the New York Herald, which had been critical of President Ulysses Grant’s rumored bid for a third term, and portrayed various interest groups as animals, including an elephant labeled “the Republican vote,” which was shown standing at the edge of a pit. Nast employed the elephant to represent Republicans in additional cartoons during the 1870s, and by 1880 other cartoonists were using the creature to symbolize the party.

For more information on the history of the Grand Old Party visit the website.

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