Republican Party

   For much of the latter half of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century, the party of Abraham Lincoln—the Republican Party—dominated politics, controlling both the White House and Congress. However, from the turn of the century onward, the conservative element in the party was increasingly challenged by progressive insurgents demanding reform. Those divisions enabled Woodrow Wilson to win the presidential election in 1912, and the Democrats also gained control of both the House and the Senate. The demise of the reform impulse and the reaction to the Versailles peace settlement and League of Nations at the end of World War I restored some unity to the Republican Party and enabled them to regain control of the White House under Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Nonetheless, a number of progressive Republicans like William Borah, Hiram Johnson, and George Norris followed an independent line. The Republicans had majorities in the House and Senate from 1919, until the Great Depression destroyed their credibility and led to a Democratic landslide in the election of 1932 that saw Franklin D. Roosevelt triumph with the promise of a New Deal.
   The Democratic domination of Congress tightened in 1934, and the ineffectual Alf Landon was easily beaten by Roosevelt in 1936. In the 75th Congress from 1937 to 1939, the Republicans only held 16 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 76 and 88 seats in the House to the Democrats’ 334. However, following Roosevelt’s attempted “court packing,” a further downturn in the economy, and a wave of industrial disputes, the Republicans began to regain some ground and, led by Robert A. Taft, were able to form a “conservative coalition” with southern Democrats in Congress. Divisions within the party resurfaced in response to the growing conflict in Europe. Taft and Arthur H. Vandenberg were both staunchly isolationist, while others led by Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox argued for support for Great Britain and France. In 1940, with the campaign for nomination divided between Taft, Vandenberg, and Thomas E. Dewey, the party united behind the dark horse, Wendell Willkie, who won on the sixth ballot. He was defeated convincingly by Roosevelt in the election. During World War II, the Republicans continued to gain ground in Congress, and in 1942 the “conservative coalition” was strengthened by Democratic losses outside the South. Although they increased their numbers in Congress, the Republicans could still not win the wartime presidential election, and Dewey was defeated in 1944. However, a massive swing in their favor enabled the party to capture both houses in the 80th Congress from 1947 to 1949 and promised victory in the presidential campaign against Harry S. Truman in 1948. However, when Truman presented Congress with a series of reform measures, which the conservatives overwhelming rejected, he labeled it “the do-nothing Congress,” and his whirlwind cross-country campaign produced an upset victory against Dewey. The Democrats regained control of Congress in 1949, but the Republicans recovered and won the presidency with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. By this time the party was aggressively anticommunist in foreign policy, probusiness in economic policy, and against waste and inefficiency in government. It was but inclined to accept basic social welfare provision.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Republican Party — ☆ Republican Party n. 1. one of the two major political parties in the U.S., organized in 1854 to oppose the extension of slavery 2. a former political party in the U.S., organized by Thomas Jefferson: see DEMOCRATIC PARTY …   English World dictionary

  • Republican party — 1. one of the two major political parties in the U.S.: originated 1854 56. 2. U.S. Hist. See Democratic Republican party. * * * or GOP (Grand Old Party) One of two major U.S. political parties. It was formed in 1854 by former members of the Whig …   Universalium

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  • Republican Party — noun the younger of two major political parties in the United States; GOP is an acronym for grand old party (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑GOP • Hypernyms: ↑party, ↑political party • Member Meronyms: ↑Republican * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • Republican Party — Re publican .Party n the Republican Party one of the two main political parties in the US →↑Democratic Party …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Republican Party — N PROPER The Republican Party is one of the two main political parties in the United States. It is more right wing or conservative than the Democratic Party …   English dictionary

  • Republican Party — Repub′lican Par′ty n. 1) gov one of the two major political parties in the U.S., originated (1854–56) 2) amh. Democratic Republican Party …   From formal English to slang

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