THE REPUBLICAN PARTY is the only third party in American history to become a major party. It dominated politics in the United States from 1860 to 1932, and in the early 2000s, it seemed on the threshold of becoming the dominant party again. The party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin, on February 28, 1854, the outgrowth of a series of meetings held in the North in opposition to the concept of letting popular referenda in Nebraska and Kansas decide the slavery question there. The Republicans believed the question of slavery needed a definite answer from the national government, and that slavery should be prohibited throughout the United States. (Strangely enough, the same bill led to the fracture of the Democratic Party, because those from the ...

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