The Republican Party was formed (1854) out if the Whig Party and anti-slavery Democrats alienated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
Sen. Stephen A. Douglas (D-IL) and chairman of the Committee on Territories, introduced a bill in early 1854, dealing with these unorganized lands. Sen. Douglas was anxious to see the region developed. Part of his motivation was personal gain — he was a heavy speculator in western lands and also, as a resident of Chicago, supportive of the development of the central route for a transcontinental railroad. It was also a political move to gain more exposure on the national stage that it might be helpful to his considerable presidential ambitions.
So Sen. Douglas’ bill succeeded in luring Southern politicians with the following provisions:
- The Nebraska Territory was to be divided into two units — Kansas and Nebraska
- The question of slavery, which had seemingly been answered, was to be decided by “popular sovereignty”—allowing the territorial legislatures to decide (States-Rights). Also a way to free the federal government from the burden of the decision.
The effect of this proposal was to repeal the Missouri Compromise, a prospect that enraged antislavery forces and most Northerners. Not content, the Southern leaders insisted on a formal amendment which specifically repealed the slavery provisions of the compromise.
A bitter debate followed in Congress, culminating in May 1854 in a narrow victory for Sen. Douglas and the South. President Franklin Pierce signed the measure immediately. Keep in mind that the Democratic Party at that time was much like the Republican Party of today in terms of its attitudes towards diversity and race.
The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act exerted a tremendous impact, which included:
- The reopening of the slavery question in the territories with almost immediate tragic results in “Bleeding Kansas”
- The president’s hope for reelection dashed
- The complete realignment of the major political parties
- The Democrats lost influence in the North and were to become the regional proslavery party of the South
- The Whig Party, which had opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, died in the South and was weakened in the North
- A new Republican Party emerged as an immediate political force, drawing in anti-Nebraska Whigs and Democrats.
So it is amazing to see how far the GOP has come from the days of fighting for justice to protecting injustices.
When a non-White American challenges a member of the Republican Party of today, especially if the challenger is Black, they often will hear various arguments that all dodge the essential problem the GOP has with a vast majority of Americans who are not White.
You will hear the argument that the challenger should be grateful to the Republican Party, because its the party of Lincoln. But the days of it being Lincoln’s party is were gone before Goldwater and solidified with Nixon, Reagan and Bush.
Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 50′s & 60′s and specifically with their unwillingness to take a stand for equality as they were founded upon during that time. In addition to their resistance and reaction of the Voting Rights & Civil Rights acts is apart of the reasons why they are the polar opposite today from what they were when they began so long ago. If they would get back to how they began, they might gain support from a more diverse demographic.
With their collaboration of the Tea Party along with the misunderstood, under-educated, uninformed, limited socialization, unconscious, implicit behaviors, positions and language towards anything and anyone not like the whole of their base of support, is where you find the reason for why the Republican Party continues to be practically devoid of diversity and potentially a shrinking party.
When you ask them directly, they will either deny the obvious, dismiss the issue, ignore your position and/or tell you their isn’t a problem. They may blame Democrats, but Democrats are not the blame for their positions, policies and lack of diversity.
So in the spirit of President Lincoln I say this to the Republican Party of today. I believe this party can not endure a permanent spirit of avoidance, disillusionment and disparaging ideals on its issues with race, diversity and inclusion. I do not expect the Republican Party to be dissolved — I do not expect its modern leaders to go away — but I do expect it will cease from growth as long it continues down the path its on of exclusion.
It is truly, the Party of Lincoln no more.
I know you don’t like it, but that’s what it is.