History Books

U.S.A.

Constitution

United We Stand

Governed by the People for the People!

History & Ideals

Origin of "Republican"

The origin of the term "Republican" goes back to the time of Thomas Jefferson and was tied in with the use of the term "Democrat". But the term was not used to refer to one of the modern political parties unitl 1854.

 

Originally "Republican" was a vague, neutral term, because the constitution had guaranteed each state a "Republican form of government". In his first innaugural address in 1801, Jefferson said, "We are all Federalists; we are all Republicans." On the other hand, since the Federalist Party (the party of John Adams) had been accused of being aristocratic, "Democrat" was offered as the opposing term.

 

However, many people objected to being called "Democrats" because the word brought up visions of mob rule in Revolutionary France. Thus, the Federalists used the term "Democrat" in a derisive and negative sense to throw at their "Republican" rivals. Jefferson's followers therefore preferred to be called Republicans, although the official name of his party was "Democratic-Republican."

 

With the decline of the Federalists, political affiliations became a matter of personalities rather than parties. It must have been especially confusing to voters in 1824, when all four candidates for President were members of the Republican Party. When Andrew Jackson won the election four years later, his wing of the party decided to end all the confusion and reintroduce "Democrat" as a partisan label.

 

Origin of "GOP"

A favorite of headline writers, GOP dates back to the 1870's and 80's. The abberviation was cited in a New York Herald story on Oct. 15, 1884: "The GOP Doomed."

 

However, what GOP stands for has changed with the times. In 1875, there was a citation in the Congressional Record referring to "this gallant old party," and according to Harper's Weekly, a reference in the Cincinatti Commercial in 1876 to "Grand Old Party."

 

Perhaps the use of the "G.O.M." for Britain's Prime Minister William E. Gladstone in 1883 as the "Grand Old Man" stimulated the use of GOP in the United States soon after.

 

In early motorcar days, GOP took on the meaning of "get out and push." During the 1964 presidential campaign, "GO Party" was used briefly, and during the Nixon Administration, frequent references to the "generation of peace" had happy overtones. In line with moves in the 70's to modernize the party, Republican leaders took to referring to the "grand open party," harkening back to a 1971 speech by President Nixon at the dedication of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican Center in Washington D.C.: "The Republican party must be the party of the open door."

 

Indeed the "Grand Old Party" is an ironic term since the Democratic Party was organized some 22 years earlier in 1832.

 

Origin of the Republican Elephant

In the spring of 1874, the New York Herald printed an editortial raising the cry of Caesarism against President Ulysses S. Grant. The Herald falsley believed that Grant would attempt to run for unprecedented third term in 1876.

 

Herald editorial writers appparently felt this would have overthrown the unwritten rule that presidents served only two terms, making Grant a dictator. Despite its falseness and rumors that the Herald had printed the editorial only to gain publicity, the idea was used by Democrats that year to scare Republican voters away from the party in Congressional elections.

 

About the same time, the New York Herald concocted another scheme to increase its circulation. The paper printed a fabricated story wild animals had escaped from the Central Park Zoo and were roaming the city looking for prey. 

 

Seeing and opportunity to use both the Caesarian charage and the animal scare, cartoonist Thomas Nast produced a cartoon which appeared in Harper's Weekly on November 7, 1874. Nast drew a donkey (the symbol of the Democratic party for which Nast was also responsible) clothed in a lion's skin, scaring away all the other animals in the park.

 

Among the animals in the cartoon is an elephant, labeled "The Republican Vote." Nast chose the elephant because it was believed that elephants were clever, steadfast, and easily controlled, but unmanageable when frightened.

 

The election soon afterwards proved all of these to be true. Nast's post-election cartoon depicted an elephant having walked into a Democratic trap.

 

Soon cartoonists began using elephants to symbolize Republicans, and eventually, the Elephant came to sympbolize the Republican Party.

 

I AM A REPUBLICAN BECAUSE:

I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

 

I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age, or disability.

 

I believe in free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth, and prosperity.

 

I believe government should practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

 

I believe the proper role of the government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by the individuals or private organization; and that the best government is that which governs the least.

 

I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is the government closest to the people.

 

I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovatitve ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

 

I belive Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to exend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

 

Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

 

-- Author Haley Barbour, former RNC Chairman