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    The Republican Party: Overall Issues, 1860-1868 Essay

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    The Republican Party during the 1860s was known as the party that was more concerned with civil rights” and the common American. This came about through a series of sweeping changes in the party that occurred during two major time periods: 1860-1864 and 1864-1868. The changes in the party reflected the attitude in the North as opposed to the Confederate, Democratic South.

    The main issue that divided the two was slavery and its implications for control of the nation. The best illustration of the party’s anti-slavery sentiment (as contrasted to abolitionism) in 1860 is the fact that although the party was against slavery, it refused to attempt to stamp it out of the regions where it was already present. For example, in the Republican Party Platform for 1860, the party states its abhorrence for slavery and declares that slavery should not be instituted into new territories, but it never tries to outlaw it from Southern states. That the normal conditions of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom…”

    And we deny the authority of Congress, a territorial legislature, or any individuals to give existence to slavery in any territory of the United States. In the first four years of the 1860s, the North and South waged war over these issues, with the Republican North emerging victorious. The Republicans took charge of national political power. Although he worked with an anti-slavery platform, President Lincoln attempted to make a generous peace with the South, hoping to expand the power of the Republican party with support from the South. Examples of this can be found in the fact that Confederate officials were not barred from public office, compensation for lost slaves was not ruled out, and Lincoln hinted that he would be generous with pardons for rebel leaders.

    With the Emancipation Proclamation, the Republicans gained freedom for slaves, but not social or political equality. During the years of 1864-1868, the Republican platform changed with the public opinion in the North to one of abolition. In the platform for the National Union Convention, the party affirmed its support for an Amendment to terminate and forever prohibit the existence of slavery within the limits or jurisdiction of the United States.” The 13th Amendment confirmed the death of slavery. However, the “Black Codes” that Southern governments implemented forced abolitionist Republicans in Congress to clash with President Andrew Johnson over the passage of a new Freedmen’s Bureau bill and a Civil Rights Act. This clash signified a division between the old Republican values of tolerance and the new platform of slave rights.

    This led to the passage of the 14th amendment, which declared all slaves as citizens and defined their voting privileges as equal to every other citizen. The Radical Republicans had achieved their goal. With freedmen able to vote, the Republican party would be able to carry more of the Southern states in elections and maintain control. Near the end of the Reconstruction Era, the Republican party underwent even more changes.

    With the slavery issue settled, scandals in the party, and threats of violence from hate groups preventing freedmen from voting, the party’s attention turned elsewhere. The metamorphosis that the party underwent during the 1860s was a direct result of popular opinion in the North. As detestment of slavery grew in the North, Republican legislation grew more severe against it, starting with party platforms and ending with the ratification of the 14th Amendment.

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    The Republican Party: Overall Issues, 1860-1868 Essay. (2019, Jan 18). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-republican-party-overall-issues-1860-1868-essay-71637/

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