To What Political Party Did Abraham Lincoln Belong?

Brian Tubbs asked:

Barack Obama is a Democrat. Most people know this. What many people may not know is that the man Mr. Obama looks to for the most political (and now presidential) inspiration and guidance was a…. Republican!

That’s right. Barack Obama’s hero, Abraham Lincoln, was a Republican. Lincoln wasn’t just any ole Republican either. He was among the founders of the Republican Party and was the first Republican to be elected President.

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin. Its principal goal was to stop the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Lincoln had been involved with the Whig Party, which was disintegrating due, in large part, to sectional rivalries. Since Lincoln was personally opposed to slavery, he found the Republican Party platform much to his liking.

The first Republican to run for President was John C. Fremont, and that was in 1856. But Fremont’s appeal was largely regional, and he was defeated by James Buchanan. By 1860, however, things would be different.

Before Lincoln ran for President in 1860, he campaigned in his home state of Illinois for the US Senate. Back then, senators were chosen by their state legislatures. Lincoln was the Republican nominee for Senate, but since the Republican Party was so new, he lost. Nevertheless, the series of debates Lincoln had with Democratic Party opponent Stephen Douglas aroused great interest in the country.

Lincoln followed by his Senate campaign with a series of pamphlets and speeches that captured the nation’s attention. He became one of the leading voices against the expansion of slavery, and, in 1860, emerged as the Republican nominee for President.

While the appeal of the Republican Party was still regional (at the time, the Northeast), the entire nation was split regionally at this point. There were, in fact, four candidates for President that year, including Lincoln’s former Senate campaign rival, Stephen Douglas. None of the candidates received a majority of the popular vote, but the population advantage in the Northeast gave Lincoln an Electoral College majority – making him the 16th President of the United States and the first President to be a Republican.

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11 Responses to “To What Political Party Did Abraham Lincoln Belong?”

  1. Dan Long says:

    You kind of missed a couple things here. Obama loves Lincoln because he ushered in central government. As opposed to Thomas Jefferson, who fought the Federalists and their attempt to install it. Lincoln hated blacks and wanted to free them and then deport them. You also fail to note that Lincoln, when he died, was a member of the National Union party, not GOP.

    I guess you could say that Lincoln was actually the first…..RINO……

  2. Vav says:

    The Republican part of 1860 was Moderate, they wanted Protective Tariffs, and a Free-Labor Society. The definition of free labor ideology is the belief that labor should result in independence and wealth distribution.
    Republicans today are severely conservative, want slave labor, are against tariffs, and are just nothing like the party of Honest Abe.

  3. Garnett Clark says:


  4. Connie says:

    Lincoln lived in tulmutuous times. It probably affected him. There was
    rampant bigotry in all the states and slavery and abuse went on all over.
    Whites who tried to help slaves were murdered including one minister who from the pulpit complained about a slave being burned to death. Atrocities occurred everywhere. The Supreme Court upheld a lot of bigotry. It had to impact the people living in the times. There were very few integrated areas and even they had problems. Only a few managed to survive the test of time. Most of those were started by the Quakers and others of similar background originating from Massachusetts. He was a man of his time and they were no different than our own civil rights movement in the twentieth century. We still do not have civil rights for children in the United States of
    America. That is the last frontier.

  5. Dave says:

    Isn’t it strange that of the six commenters so far not a single one of them has a good handle on the English language? The way that they break one word into two pieces suggests to me that all of them may have been written by the same illiterate. Lincoln was a Republican. What’s to comment about that?

  6. Jason says:

    Lincoln was a Republican and when the Whigs party shutdown some switched to Democrat and others switched to Republican.

    The reason Whigs party shutdown in the first place is because they was divided, Lincoln switched to the Republican party because he believed in their political views more so then the Democrats like for example freeing the slaves witch of course is what the Republican party was founded on.

    Liberals always try to take credit for anything that is good and blame the Republicans for everything that is bad, most Republicans that I know can see there is good and bad people in both political parties but the other hand most Liberals that I had talked with said all Liberals is good and all Republicans is bad that is why most Democrats call Lincoln a Liberal trying to take credit for his good work.

    If people took the time to look at Lincoln political views like for example economy, social, and the military they would see his views are like the Republican party we see today commonsense.

    If you are going to do research best to be open mined and not just believe what you want to hear also don’t be bias.

  7. Mel Stephens says:

    I believe those who state that President Lincoln was liberal are very wrong. I have a paper that states that he was a baptized believer, but had a wife that considered it wrong to broadcast this, so he being honorable appealed to her wishes. A 99 year old lady gave it to me, and the man that baptized him waited until most of the people that would be affected by controversy had passed, which I find as honorable as well! I have debated in my own mind as to what the consequences would have been if this were in the media long ago.

  8. CJM says:

    Thomas Jefferson founded the Democrat-Republican Party; it officially became the Democrat Party in 1828. The Republican Party officially emerged in 1856, but Lincoln, who was a Whig, joined the Illinois region Repblicans in 1854. He remained in the Republican Party until he joined the National Union Party in 1864. Lincoln was not opposed to the slavery; his Emancipation Proclamation freed only those slaves living in the ceded States; it did not free slaves in other regions of the US (namely, the North).

  9. Tim says:

    The Whig party goes way back in America’s history. The core of the Whig platform had always been Puritan and Puritan only. Meaning this new fangled concept of anything goes in this new world was very much frowned upon. To include making a buck with slaves. Puritans hate the whole concept of slavery but, it took the Republicans (former Whigs) to make it to bear fruit. This is why we Whigs of the new must call out these history revisionist pigs and begin the up hill task of freeing our modern day slaves with education. Just a small foot note in the 1870’s right after the Civil War the republicans (almost completely by themselves by the way) passed two amendments relating to the freed slaves. The first giving the negro citizenship to the U.S and the second the right to vote. Yes the black man was afforded the ability to vote before white women. Their is no right to vote persay!
    Republicans have been involved with civil rights from their humble beginnings, for all not just using race as a money making endeavor. ERA would of giving women supra rights.

  10. Robert says:

    While it is true that neither political party has the same core platform values as 150 years ago, it is pure ignorance to make blanket statements bout today’s Republican party. The simple truth is, today’s Republican party stands for state’s rights whereas the Democrat’s stand for a strong federal government that controls one’s personal life all the way from DC. Joe needs to read more and listen to his ill informed daddy less.

  11. Joe says:

    The Republican party back then is not what it is today, it was more liberal, Most whigs switched over to republican.. Lincolns views are pretty much the complete opposite of what the party stands for today..(only looking out for the rich, having the whole “government knows best idealogy” war mongers…etc People always say, a Republican freed the slaves.. Lincoln only became republican cause Whigs were dying out and he had the best shot at it by joining up with them.. Lincoln always felt in his heart he was a Whig, with Whig values.. So on paper he was a republican but he really was a whig

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