The United States has seen a number of Republican presidents over the years. Below you’ll find a brief history of the Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party), and a complete list of Republican presidents.
A History of the Republican Party
The Republican Party was formed in 1854, growing out of opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which was signed into law by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. The Act opened the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to slavery. The implications that this could lead to their future admission as slave states, thus going against the earlier Missouri Compromise, was seen as an act of aggression by anti-slavery Northerners.
Initially, the party was generally made up of African-Americans, northern white Protestants, businessmen, professionals, factory workers, and farmers. These people had largely been anti-slavery Conscience Whigs, like Zachariah Chandler, and Free Soil Democrats, like Salmon P. Chase. In its early years, the Republican Party had almost no presence in the southern United States.
Related post: What Was the Whig Party?
The Republican Party would come to support the ideals of classical liberalism. They opposed the expansion of slavery and supported economic reforms. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President. After helping preserve the Union in the American Civil War, the Republican Party would come to dominate much of the national political scene until the early 1930s.
Republicans in the 20th Century
The early 20th century saw a split in the GOP. After former President Theodore Roosevelt became frustrated by the conservative policies of his friend, President William Howard Taft, he ran unsuccessfully as a third-party candidate of the “Bull Moose” Party in 1912. Roosevelt pulled supporters away from the Republican Party, leading to a win for Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Many of Roosevelt’s progressive supporters never came back, and the party began to make an ideological shift to the right.
Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Republican base began to shift even more, with the American South becoming the party’s most reliable supporters. The demographics of the party also began to change, as white voters came to increasingly identify with the Republicans. After Roe V. Wade in 1973, and the party’s opposition to abortion, the Republicans would find increasing support among evangelical Christians.
Ronald Reagan, who served as president from 1981 to 1989, is largely credited with helping transform the GOP into what it is today. His many conservative policies, which called for reduced government spending, lower taxes, and anti-Communist foreign policy, continued to influence the party into the 21st century.
Today, the Republican Party draws much of its support from the South, the Great Plains, the Mountain States, and rural northern areas. The party supports lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong national defense, gun rights, and restrictions on labor unions. The party is also socially conservative, historically opposing abortion and LGBT rights (though many in the party are becoming more open to the latter).
Can you pick the Republican Presidents of the United States, without picking one who belonged to another party? Take the quiz!
A Complete List of Republican Presidents
1. Abraham Lincoln – 1861 to 1865 (16th President)
2. Ulysses S. Grant – 1869 to 1877 (18th President)
3. Rutherford B. Hayes – 1877 to 1881 (19th President)
4. James A. Garfield – 1881 (20th President)
5. Chester A. Arthur – 1881 to 1885 (21st President)
6. Benjamin Harrison – 1889 to 1893 (23rd President)
7. William McKinley – 1897 to 1901 (25th President)
8. Theodore Roosevelt – 1901 to 1909 (26th President)
9. William H. Taft – 1909 to 1913 (27th President)
10. Warren G. Harding – 1921 to 1923 (29th President)
11. Calvin Coolidge – 1923 to 1929 (30th President)
12. Herbert Hoover – 1929 to 1933 (31st President)
13. Dwight Eisenhower – 1953 to 1961 (34th President)
14. Richard M. Nixon – 1969 to 1974 (37th President)
15. Gerald Ford – 1974 to 1977 (38th President)
16. Ronald Reagan – 1981 to 1989 (40th President)
17. George H.W. Bush – 1989 to 1993 (41st President)
18. George W. Bush – 2001 to 2009 (43rd President)
19. Donald J. Trump – 2017 to present (45th President)
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