In 1856, the Republicans became a national party when John C. Fremont was nominated for President under the slogan: "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont." Even though they were considered a "third party" because the Democrats and Whigs represented the two-party system at the time, Fremont received 33% of the vote. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White House, and to this day, Republicans are proudly referred to as the, “Party of Lincoln.”

The Civil War erupted in 1861 and lasted four grueling years. During the war, against the advice of his cabinet, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. The Republicans of the day worked to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery, the Fourteenth, which guaranteed equal protection under the laws, and the Fifteenth, which helped secure voting rights for African-Americans.

The Republican Party also played a leading role in securing women the right to vote. In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women's suffrage. When the 19th Amendment finally was added to the Constitution, 26 of 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control. In fact, the first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917.

Ten of the sixteen Presidents, who held office in the 20th Century, were Republicans. Under the last two, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the United States became the World’s only superpower, winning the Cold War from the old Soviet Union and releasing millions from Communist oppression.

 
     
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