Given below is a description of three of the most influential Republicans in the history of the United States. These members of the Republican Party represent its political motivations and beliefs during different eras.
The first Republican and 16th President of the United States, Lincoln is one of the most famous leaders of the country. He was part of the Whig Party until the formation of the Republican Party in 1854, whose anti-slavery beliefs attracted the young man and got him involved in politics once again after a lull. He was chosen as the Presidential candidate for the 1860 elections for his more moderate views on slavery and because he was from Kentucky, one of the Western States.
He won the election with almost no support from the South, and soon afterwards a number of Southern States declared themselves as the Confederate States of America, triggering the chain of events leading to the Civil War. In 1863, he gave his famous Emancipation Proclamation, ordering the freedom of all slaves in the rebelling states. While freedom was not immediate granted, it was a huge moment for slavery abortion in the United States. The same year saw the famous Gettysburg Address being made by Lincoln, which was one of the most significant speeches of American history.
Lincoln’s views reflected that of the Republican Party during its early years; a liberal viewpoint that focuses on the abolishment of slavery, resulting in the Thirteenth Amendment of 1865 that made slavery illegal.
Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt was the 26th U.S. President and one of the most famous ones in American history. He served under the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, called Roughriders, during the Spanish-American War. He joined the Republican Party and, on becoming President, focuses his efforts on making the United States a powerful nation. He described his foreign policy with the proverb ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’, and he played a major role in the expansion of the U.S. Navy. He sent naval envoys to various countries as a demonstration of the country’s power.
Roosevelt was extremely active in foreign policy, building the Panama Canal and ending the war between Japan and Russia in 1905. He won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year for his efforts. Within the country, he strived to give American equal opportunities for success under his ‘Square Deal’ policies. These included regulation of big businesses, support of labor laws to protect the working class, protection of the environment, and regulation of drugs and meat. His policies formed the foundation for the expansion of the government later on, a belief that the Republican Party does not share any longer.
A successful second leading man in movies, Ronald Reagan became increasingly active in politics towards the end of his acting career. He later became the eldest man to be elected President of the United States during the period from 1981 to 1989. A man of strong conservative values, Reagan was a Democrat until 1962, when he shifted to the Republican Party. This was during a time when the Democrats were becoming more liberal and the Republicans more conservative. Reagan is known for his aggressive policy against Russia, created the biggest peacetime military buildup in the history of the U.S. This buildup significantly increased the country’s foreign debts.
Towards the end of his political career, he became friendlier towards Russia as he developed a strong friendship with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev. He was also famous for his ‘Tear Down This Wall’ speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Germany, expressing his desire for peace between the Soviet Union and the West.
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- Republican Views on Civil Rights