The Republican Party has been half of American politics for over 160 years now, and today’s incarnation scarcely resembles the Grand Old Party that started with an 1854 anti-slavery meeting in Wisconsin.
The Republican Party started with a few meetings of Whigs, Abolitionists, and some disaffected Northern Democrats in the northern Midwest in 1854. They were mostly unhappy about the Whig Party’s failure to stop the spread of slavery into the Western territories and the perceived corruption of the Democratic Party. Together, they drafted an impressively forward-looking platform and started running candidates for national office. By 1860, after only four years of hard campaigning, they had elected their first president, an Abolitionist lawyer from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.