This Day in History: The Republican Party is born...
Today in 1854, a small group of abolitionists, former Democrats and Whigs, and those known as Free Soilers, met in a church in Ripon, Wisconsin, in order to join forces in fighting against the expansion of slavery into the Western territories of America. This unlikely group of men set anti-slavery resolutions and agreed to meet the following month. This meeting marked the birth of the Republican Party, named in honor of Jefferson's Democratic-Republican party, which stood for the 1776 republican values of equality and opposition against corruption and an aristocratic class.
Slavery had been an issue in America since the formation of American democracy. In order to unite the Southern colonies, the slavery issue had to be set aside, because without a union Americans would have surely fallen against the British. However, by 1820, the Missouri Compromise brought slavery into the limelight of politics; later to be overturned by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the same year as the Republican Party's establishment. Still it would take seven years for the slavery issue and the issue of state's rights to break out in a Civil War—Jefferson even foresaw this war between the States during the infancy of the United States.
During the 1864 election, Radical Republicans and pro-war Democrats nominated Abraham Lincoln as their choice for president. Lincoln would become America's first Republican president during a time when the nation's union was at the greatest threat.
Currently Steven Spielberg is producing and directing a film entitled "Lincoln," based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," set to be released in 2011. Liam Neeson has been cast as the the Great Emancipator. Robert Redford is also producing a Lincoln film entitled "The Conspirator," based on Mary Surrat's involvement in the conspiracy of Lincoln's assassination, set to be released sometime this year.
“To study history is to study the motives, the opinions, and the passions of men in order to know all the successes, the initiatives and the detours, and finally all the illusions that they make known to the mind and the surprises that they make the heart feel. In a word, it is to learn to known oneself in others.”—Jean Mabillon, 15th c. Benedictine scholar.