In 1884, newspaper printer T.B. Dowden was unable to find space at the conclusion of an article in The Cincinnati Gazette about Republican politician James Gillespie Blaine, who was nominated just a few days earlier to run for U.S. presidency. Dowden’s copy concluded with the word “Grand Old Party” (GOP) and when he was up against the deadline and a line count, Dowden had come up with a new idea to fit the message.
The following morning on the first page in The Cincinnati Gazette read “The Hon. James G. Blaine will be the speaker at the meeting to discuss the achievements in the G.O.P.'” Dowden is acknowledged as the first person to use the term “GOP” on paper.
The history of the initial use of the now-famous acronym is a fascinating aspect of the history of the Republican Party however, it’s not the entire story. “GOP” is the abbreviation for Grand Old Party, but what is the reason behind it?
The Democratic-Republican Party
In order to do that, we need to examine the past of the two major political parties’ roots. Democrats and Republicans were both_born from the Democratic_Republican_Party (also known as Jeffersonian Republicans), which was founded by Thomas_Jefferson and James_Madison in the 1790s. The party was a proponent of political equality, expansionism and republicanism as a philosophy that focuses on liberty and individual rights as well as authority of individual as fundamental values.
The Democratic-Republican Party eventually broke into factions during the 1824 presidential election. Splintering was only a matter_of_time as four Democratic_Republicans sought the presidency, including Andrew_Jackson, John_Quincy_Adams, William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. The election was not a clear election however, and there was a contingent election in the House of Representatives held a contingent election to select the president. Adams eventually prevailed.
In the end eventually, the Democratic Party took its name in 1844. The Republican Party took its name in 1854, bringing together the former Whigs (those who supported more tariffs, the distribution of the land revenue to states, and enacting laws to ease economic burdens) and other similar-minded Democrats and Abolitionists.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
The fusion of these ideologies in the newly-formed Republican Party was, ironically mostly driven by a democratically-backed effort. For instance the Kansas-Nebraska Law of 1854 was a piece of legislation that permitted slavery to expand into the western regions. After the act was passed the law, violent pro and antislave-slave conflicts arose, referred to as the “Bleeding” Kansas — a prelude of the Civil War.
The debate on slavery grew heated during the subsequent years, as young Abraham Lincoln was getting his political foundations. Lincoln strongly opposed against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and would steadily introduce his anti-slavery message into his political speeches over the later years. In 1861, Lincoln won the Republican Presidential nomination and later the presidency. Then , in 1861 seven states declared their secession. Four additional States joining in the Confederacy within a few months. There’s more to it. There was a Civil War ended in 1865 when Confederate generals surrendered.
1859 Kentucky’s Democratic
However, let’s go back on the GOP. A few years prior in 1859 Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Beriah Magoffin, an unwavering neutralist during Civil War. Harkened back to the political party’s Democratic-Republic Party origins in his inaugural address. Saying “The Grand Old Party has never changed its name, its purpose or its ideals or its goals. And it has never breached its pledges.”
In 1858 the Democratic newspaper from New Haven. Connecticut, also made reference towards the Grand Old Party in reference to Democrats in its article. Stating ” this Grand Old Party is divided and at risk of being defeated.”
In the 1870s, the name had been firmly attached to refer to the Republican Party. Newspapers and politicians began referring at the Republican Party as the Grand Old Party (GOP). And also the brave old party as a homage to its part in protecting. Its position in the Union throughout the Civil War.