History of the Republican Party | American civics | US government and civics | Khan Academy


– [Voiceover] Hey, Kim! – [Voiceover] Hi, David! – [Voiceover] So, with the
Republican National Convention coming up in just a couple of
weeks as we’re recording this, you thought it would be
like a really good idea to sit down and examine the
history of the Republican Party. So what’s, what’s going
on in the country in 1854 that leads to this party forming? – [Voiceover] Well,
there’re growing discussions over slavery, and why the slavery
should expand to the West. Now, all throughout the 19th century the citizens of the United States had been kind of compromising on
the issue of slavery. First, they had a line
between North and South, said only slave states
could be below this line. Now the Kansas-Nebraska Act
overturns that compromise. The Kansas-Nebraska Act,
which says that the citizens of a territory when applying for statehood can themselves decide
whether or not that state should have slavery. – [Voiceover] So, even
though Kansas and Nebraska are north of this parallel in Missouri above which slavery couldn’t exist, this new law kind of overturns
that, that agreement? – [Voiceover] Exactly. So a number of US citizens,
who are anti-slavery, which means that they don’t want slavery to spread into western territories, mainly because they want those territories free from white farmers to not have to compete
with wealthy slaveholders who have free labor to
farm and ship their goods and sell their crops. – [Voiceover] What about
people that hate slavery and think it’s immoral
and want to abolish it? – [Voiceover] Those people
are called abolitionists. – [Voiceover] Yeah,
that’s a convenient name. – [Voiceover] Yes. And the abolitionists,
really before the 1850s they were kind of considered
the lunatic fringe, only those sorts of people would imagine that you would want to end
slavery right now everywhere that exists in the United States. So, they don’t want to
just not have slavery out in the West, they want slavery to be
ended where it exists already in the South.
– [Voiceover] Right. – [Voiceover] So, those
who believed in abolition, those who believed in anti-slavery went to a new party, the Republican Party. – [Voiceover] So even
within the Republican Party abolitionism was still on the fringe of the party plank? – [Voiceover] Yeah, I would say so. So, the new Republican
Party which really comes out to an extremely strong start, they run their first candidate in 1856, he gets second place in national election, which is amazing.
– [Voiceover] Not bad. – [Voiceover] But their
second candidate for President is Abraham Lincoln. And Lincoln himself is
actually kind of considered a moderate, because he is anti-slavery, he is not an abolitionist. But nonetheless, the
South perceives Lincoln to be an abolitionist and
white Southerners revolt and start the Civil War. – [Voiceover] So, because he is perceived as an abolitionist,
because he is a Republican, that’s why South Carolina secedes? – [Voiceover] Exactly. So, the Civil War ensues. This is a four year long battle. 620,000 Americans die. And at the end of the day, the North, the United States of America
led by the Republican Party is victorious. – [Voiceover] So the
victory of the United States in the Civil War kind of assures dominion of the Republican
Party for a generation. – [Voiceover] Yeah, I would
say even more than that. So, for the rest of the 19th century and really into the early 20th century the Republican Party is the
stronger political party in the United States. – [Voiceover] So, from
the end of the Civil War, from 1865, until about when would you say? – [Voiceover] I would
say the Great Depression. – [Voiceover] So, it’s
an almost unbroken string of republican presidencies. – [Voiceover] Yeah, there are only three Democratic presidents in this time period. So it’s 72 years of
pretty much uninterrupted Republican rule. And the Republican Party is
the party of anti-slavery. During the Civil War they were the party of the emancipation
proclamation under Lincoln. So, it’s during their rule
that the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, is passed. The 14th Amendment, which
guarantees equal citizenship to African Americans, is passed. And the 15th Amendment,
guaranteeing the right to vote for African Americans, is passed. – [Voiceover] So in the period immediately following the Civil
War called Reconstruction, when we see the election
of some of the first African American senators
and representatives to the Congress. – [Voiceover] Exactly. So, during this time period
quite a few African American men were elected to US Congress,
and many more served in appointed roles, like postmaster. – [Voiceover] So this is
when we get the election of Senator Hiram Revels from Mississippi. – [Voiceover] Exactly. So Hiram Revels was one of the first two African American senators. So after the Civil War the
Republican Party was really kind of this party of the Gilded Age. They believed in modernizing
the infrastructure of the United States. They built lots of railroads. They enacted policies that would protect American business. And it’s really in this early period of the turn of the century
that the Republican Party becomes associated with
protections of business there. – [Voiceover] Is that
what the elephant’s about? – [Voiceover] Kind of, yes. So, the elephant was popularized in an 1870 cartoon by Thomas Nast. – [Voiceover] Oh, the
same guy that gave us Santa Claus, right? – [Voiceover] Yes. And Nast depicted the
Republican Party as an elephant because it was a party of strength, a really big consequential party. – [Voiceover] That’s so
fascinating to have gone from this, like, insurgency party to this, like, to being perceived as the elephant of electoral politics in 30 years. – [Voiceover] Yeah, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, it kinda
all comes crashing down with the Great Depression. – [Voiceover] Sure. – [Voiceover] So, the
pro-business policies, the lack of regulation in the 1920s leads to the stock market crash of 1929. And it was a Republican
president, Herbert Hoover, who was in the presidency
at the time of the crash. And so, in 1932, Democrat
Franklin Roosevelt is elected president. And the following 40 years, more or less, are going to be the time
of Democratic ascendancy. But, in the meantime, there is one notable Republican president. – [Voiceover] Ike for
President, Ike for President. – [Voiceover] I like Ike, you like Ike, Everybody likes Ike. – [Voiceover] For President. – [Voiceover] (laughs) So, we were quoting one of Ike’s campaign commercials. – [Voiceover] Who is Ike, Kim? – [Voiceover] Ike was
General Dwight Eisenhower who was a World War II hero. He was so popular he
would have been elected had his… – [Voiceover] Could have been
from the Martian party, right? – [Voiceover] Yes (laughs). – [Voiceover] Like any party
expect the Communist Party would have propelled
Eisenhower to the presidency. – [Voiceover] Yes. Exactly. And you’re right that one
of the, you know, key themes of this time period was anti-Communism, and both Republicans and Democrats had an anti-Communist bent. But Eisenhower was elected in 1952, and he was really the first president to use commercial spots to get elected. He had these cute little jingles that were very memorable. – [Voiceover] So catchy. – [Voiceover] And he
really used the medium of television well. So he’s kind of the father of TV ads. – [Voiceover] Yeah, it’s interesting, because I think we think of Kennedy as being the first television president. But I would, I think we
could both make the claim that it’s, it’s really Eisenhower. – [Voiceover] That is a great point. So, Eisenhower is kind
of a Republican moment in a much larger Democratic era. – [Voiceover] Okay. – [Voiceover] And this is the era when the Civil Rights Movement happens. This is the era of the
Great Society programs, which were Lyndon Johnson’s programs to try to attack poverty,
and New Deal programs. So this is really the
birth of the welfare state. So in this time period
the Republicans begin to experience a demographic shift. So first, they had been the
party that was most known for representing African Americans, because they were the party of Lincoln. But during the New Deal, when most people really
needed economic help, the African American constituency moved over to the Democrats. They actually had a campaign
saying to African Americans “turn your picture of
Abraham Lincoln to the wall” so that he can’t see you changed parties. But this is really the time period when the Democratic Party begins to pick up the
votes of African Americans. And so, over the course of
the 1930s through the 1960s, as the Democratic Party begins to advocate bigger and bigger government,
a larger welfare state, and more and more social progress, the Republicans develop a
conservative response to that. And in the 1970s and 1980s, in the aftermath of the
Civil Rights Movement, many whites in the South
felt that the social chaos of the Civil Rights
Movement had gone too far. And so, they left the Democratic Party, which had been traditionally
a party in the South, and joined the Republican Party, which was presenting a
more conservative face towards social change. And so, in the 1980s this
new conservative movement really came together in the
person of Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan brought together a number of constituencies. He brought together business interests, who wanted less government
regulation of business. He also brought together
Christian evangelicals, who wanted a more conservative social value program in government. And he also brought
together anti-Communists, who felt that the Democratic presidents had been too soft on
Communism during their tenure. – [Voiceover] So this
is interesting to me, because it seems to be
around the era of Reagan that we started to see the beginnings of ideological polarization
within the parties. – [Voiceover] I would say
that’s kind of been around since the beginning, more or less. You know, the two
original political parties in the United States, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, or the Democratic-Republicans. This is the party led by Thomas Jefferson versus the party led
by Alexander Hamilton. You know, they had the
same idea of the sort of large central government versus the small central government. In many ways we’re still
debating the same issues that Hamilton and Jefferson
were debating in 1800. – [Voiceover] So, okay, so we’re seeing this conservative coalition coalesce around the election of Reagan, and his election was like a sweep, right? – [Voiceover] Yes. Yeah, he deregulates a lot of industries. He defends conservative
social family values, like prayer in school, for example. And he takes a very hard
line against Communism. And George W. Bush, who was the most recent
Republican president, had a fairly similar agenda, although less emphasis on anti-Communism and instead an emphasis on anti-terrorism. – [Voiceover] So we’re seeing
this shift over last 150 years of party priorities for the Republicans as the country changes and
as its demographics change. – [Voiceover] And we’ll find out how the story of the
Republican Party continues in this election.

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