GOP Record on Civil Rights

Champions for the cause




The Republican Party was formed in 1854 specifically to oppose the Democrats. For over 150 years, the GOP has worked to resist the Democrat agenda.

Cutting through the popular rhetoric, it becomes clear that the Republican Party has more consistently stood for progress on Civil Rights, while the Democrats have often dithered and stalled on a whole multitude of related issues. Consider the following record of Republicans championing the cause:






GOP_on_civilrights
  •  March 20, 1854
    Opponents of Democrats' pro-slavery policies meet in Ripon, Wisconsin to establish the Republican Party
  •  May 30, 1854
    Democrat President Franklin Pierce signs Democrats' Kansas-Nebraska Act, expanding slavery into U.S. territories; opponents unite to form the Republican Party
  •  June 16, 1854
    Newspaper editor Horace Greeley calls on opponents of slavery to unite in the Republican Party
  •  July 6, 1854
    First state Republican Party officially organized in Jackson, Michigan, to oppose Democrats' pro-slavery policies
  •  February 11, 1856
    Republican Montgomery Blair argues before U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of his client, the slave Dred Scott; later served in President Lincoln's Cabinet
  •  February 22, 1856
    First national meeting of the Republican Party, in Pittsburgh, to coordinate opposition to Democrats' pro-slavery policies
  •  March 27, 1856
    First meeting of Republican National Committee in Washington, DC to oppose Democrats' pro-slavery policies
  •  May 22, 1856
    For denouncing Democrats' pro-slavery policy, Republican U.S. Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) is beaten nearly to death on floor of Senate by U.S. Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC), takes three years to recover
  •  March 6, 1857
    Republican Supreme Court Justice John McLean issues strenuous dissent from decision by 7 Democrats in infamous Dred Scott case that African-Americans had no rights "which any white man was bound to respect"
  •  June 26, 1857
    Abraham Lincoln declares Republican position that slavery is "cruelly wrong," while Democrats "cultivate and excite hatred" for blacks
  •  October 13, 1858
    During Lincoln-Douglas debates, U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas (D-IL) states: "I do not regard the Negro as my equal, and positively deny that he is my brother, or any kin to me whatever"; Douglas became Democratic Party's 1860 presidential nominee
  •  October 25, 1858
    U.S. Senator William Seward (R-NY) describes Democratic Party as "inextricably committed to the designs of the slaveholders"; as President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, helped draft Emancipation Proclamation
  •  June 4, 1860
    Republican U.S. Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) delivers his classic address, The Barbarism of Slavery
  •  April 7, 1862
    President Lincoln concludes treaty with Britain for suppression of slave trade
  •  April 16, 1862
    President Lincoln signs bill abolishing slavery in District of Columbia; in Congress, 99% of Republicans vote yes, 83% of Democrats vote no
  •  July 2, 1862
    U.S. Rep. Justin Morrill (R-VT) wins passage of Land Grant Act, establishing colleges open to African-Americans, including such students as George Washington Carver
  •  July 17, 1862
    Over unanimous Democrat opposition, Republican Congress passes Confiscation Act stating that slaves of the Confederacy "shall be forever free"
  •  August 19, 1862
    Republican newspaper editor Horace Greeley writes Prayer of Twenty Millions, calling on President Lincoln to declare emancipation
  •  August 25, 1862
    President Abraham Lincoln authorizes enlistment of African-American soldiers in U.S. Army
  •  September 22, 1862
    Republican President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation
  •  January 1, 1863
    Emancipation Proclamation, implementing the Republicans' Confiscation Act of 1862, takes effect
  •  February 9, 1864
    Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton deliver over 100,000 signatures to U.S. Senate supporting Republicans' plans for constitutional amendment to ban slavery
  •  June 15, 1864
    Republican Congress votes equal pay for African-American troops serving in U.S. Army during Civil War
  •  June 28, 1864
    Republican majority in Congress repeals Fugitive Slave Acts
  •  October 29, 1864
    African-American abolitionist Sojourner Truth says of President Lincoln: "I never was treated by anyone with more kindness and cordiality than were shown to me by that great and good man"
  •  January 31, 1865
    13th Amendment banning slavery passed by U.S. House with unanimous Republican support, intense Democrat opposition
  •  March 3, 1865
    Republican Congress establishes Freedmen's Bureau to provide health care, education, and technical assistance to emancipated slaves
  •  April 8, 1865
    13th Amendment banning slavery passed by U.S. Senate with 100% Republican support, 63% Democrat opposition
  •  June 19, 1865
    On "Juneteenth," U.S. troops land in Galveston, TX to enforce ban on slavery that had been declared more than two years before by the Emancipation Proclamation
  •  November 22, 1865
    Republicans denounce Democrat legislature of Mississippi for enacting "black codes," which institutionalized racial discrimination
  •  December 6, 1865
    Republican Party's 13th Amendment, banning slavery, is ratified
  •  February 5, 1866
    U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (R-PA) introduces legislation, successfully opposed by Democrat President Andrew Johnson, to implement "40 acres and a mule" relief by distributing land to former slaves
  •  April 9, 1866
    Republican Congress overrides Democrat President Johnson's veto; Civil Rights Act of 1866, conferring rights of citizenship on African-Americans, becomes law
  •  April 19, 1866
    Thousands assemble in Washington, DC to celebrate Republican Party's abolition of slavery
  •  May 10, 1866
    U.S. House passes Republicans' 14th Amendment guaranteeing due process and equal protection of the laws to all citizens; 100% of Democrats vote no
  •  June 8, 1866
    U.S. Senate passes Republicans' 14th Amendment guaranteeing due process and equal protection of the law to all citizens; 94% of Republicans vote yes and 100% of Democrats vote no
  •  July 16, 1866
    Republican Congress overrides Democrat President Andrew Johnson's veto of Freedman's Bureau Act, which protected former slaves from "black codes" denying their rights
  •  July 28, 1866
    Republican Congress authorizes formation of the Buffalo Soldiers, two regiments of African-American cavalrymen
  •  July 30, 1866
    Democrat-controlled City of New Orleans orders police to storm racially-integrated Republican meeting; raid kills 40 and wounds more than 150
  •  January 8, 1867
    Republicans override Democrat President Andrew Johnson's veto of law granting voting rights to African-Americans in D.C.
  •  July 19, 1867
    Republican Congress overrides Democrat President Andrew Johnson's veto of legislation protecting voting rights of African-Americans
  •  March 30, 1868
    Republicans begin impeachment trial of Democrat President Andrew Johnson, who declared: "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government of white men"
  •  May 20, 1868
    Republican National Convention marks debut of African-American politicians on national stage; two ( Pinckney Pinchback and James Harris ) attend as delegates, and several serve as presidential electors
  •  September 3, 1868
    25 African-Americans in Georgia legislature, all Republicans, expelled by Democrat majority; later reinstated by Republican Congress
  •  September 12, 1868
    Civil rights activist Tunis Campbell and all other African-Americans in Georgia Senate, every one a Republican, expelled by Democrat majority; would later be reinstated by Republican Congress
  •  September 28, 1868
    Democrats in Opelousas, Louisiana murder nearly 300 African-Americans who tried to prevent an assault against a Republican newspaper editor
  •  October 7, 1868
    Republicans denounce Democratic Party's national campaign theme: "This is a white man's country: Let white men rule"
  •  October 22, 1868
    While campaigning for re-election, Republican U.S. Rep. James Hinds (R-AR) is assassinated by the Ku Klux Klan
  •  November 3, 1868
    Republican Ulysses Grant defeats Democrat Horatio Seymour in presidential election; Seymour had denounced Emancipation Proclamation
  •  December 10, 1869
    Republican Gov. John Campbell of Wyoming Territory signs FIRST-in-nation law granting women right to vote and to hold public office
  •  February 3, 1870
    After passing House with 98% Republican support and 97% Democrat opposition, Republicans' 15th Amendment is ratified, granting vote to all Americans regardless of race
  •  May 19, 1870
    African-American John Langston, law professor and future Republican Congressman from Virginia, delivers influential speech supporting President Ulysses Grant's civil rights policies
  •  May 31, 1870
    President U.S. Grant signs Republicans' Enforcement Act, providing stiff penalties for depriving any American's civil rights
  •  June 22, 1870
    Republican Congress creates U.S. Department of Justice, to safeguard the civil rights of African-Americans against Democrats in the South
  •  September 6, 1870
    Women vote in Wyoming, in FIRST election after women's suffrage signed into law by Republican Gov. John Campbell
  •  February 28, 1871
    Republican Congress passes Enforcement Act providing federal protection for African-American voters
  •  March 22, 1871
    Spartansburg Republican newspaper denounces Ku Klux Klan campaign to eradicate the Republican Party in South Carolina
  •  April 20, 1871
    Republican Congress enacts the Ku Klux Klan Act, outlawing groups which oppressed African-Americans
  •  October 10, 1871
    Following warnings by Philadelphia Democrats against black voting, African-American Republican civil rights activist Octavius Catto murdered by Democratic Party operative; his military funeral was attended by thousands
  •  October 18, 1871
    After violence against Republicans in South Carolina, President Ulysses Grant deploys U.S. troops to combat the Ku Klux Klan
  •  November 18, 1872
    Susan B. Anthony arrested for voting, after boasting to Elizabeth Cady Stanton that she voted for "the Republican ticket, straight"
  •  January 17, 1874
    Armed Democrats seize Texas state government, ending Republican efforts to racially integrate government
  •  September 14, 1874
    Democrat white supremacists seize Louisiana statehouse in attempt to overthrow racially-integrated administration of Republican Governor William Kellogg; 27 killed
  •  March 1, 1875
    Civil Rights Act of 1875, guaranteeing access to public accommodations without regard to race, signed by Republican President U.S. Grant; passed with 92% Republican support over 100% Democrat opposition
  •  September 20, 1876
    Former state Attorney General Robert Ingersoll (R-IL) tells veterans: "Every man that loved slavery better than liberty was a Democrat" I am a Republican because it is the only free party that ever existed"
  •  January 10, 1878
    U.S. Senator Aaron Sargent (R-CA) introduces Susan B. Anthony amendment for women's suffrage; Democrat-controlled Senate defeated it 4 times before election of Republican House and Senate guaranteed its approval in 1919
  •  July 14, 1884
    Republicans criticize Democratic Party's nomination of racist U.S. Senator Thomas Hendricks (D-IN) for vice president; he had voted against the 13th Amendment banning slavery
  •  August 30, 1890
    Republican President Benjamin Harrison signs legislation by U.S. Senator Justin Morrill (R-VT) making African-Americans eligible for land-grant colleges in the South
  •  June 7, 1892
    In a FIRST for a major U.S. political party, two women ( Theresa Jenkins and Cora Carleton ) attend Republican National Convention in an official capacity, as alternate delegates
  •  February 8, 1894
    Democrat Congress and Democrat President Grover Cleveland join to repeal Republicans' Enforcement Act, which had enabled African-Americans to vote
  •  December 11, 1895
    African-American Republican and former U.S. Rep. Thomas Miller (R-SC) denounces new state constitution written to disenfranchise African-Americans
  •  May 18, 1896
    Republican Justice John Marshall Harlan, dissenting from Supreme Court's notorious Plessy v. Ferguson "separate but equal" decision, declares: "Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens"
  •  December 31, 1898
    Republican Theodore Roosevelt becomes Governor of New York; in 1900, he outlawed racial segregation in New York public schools
  •  May 24, 1900
    Republicans vote no in referendum for constitutional convention in Virginia, designed to create a new state constitution disenfranchising African-Americans
  •  January 15, 1901
    Republican Booker T. Washington protests Alabama Democratic Party's refusal to permit voting by African-Americans
  • October 16, 1901
    President Theodore Roosevelt invites Booker T. Washington to dine at White House, sparking protests by Democrats across the country
  •  May 29, 1902
    Virginia Democrats implement new state constitution, condemned by Republicans as illegal, reducing African-American voter registration by 86%
  •  February 12, 1909
    On 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, African-American Republicans and women's suffragists Ida Wells and Mary Terrell co-found the NAACP
  •  June 18, 1912
    African-American Robert Church, founder of Lincoln Leagues to register black voters in Tennessee, attends 1912 Republican National Convention as delegate; eventually serves as delegate at 8 conventions
  •  August 1, 1916
    Republican presidential candidate Charles Evans Hughes, former New York Governor and U.S. Supreme Court Justice, endorses women's suffrage constitutional amendment; he would become Secretary of State and Chief Justice
  •  May 21, 1919
    Republican House passes constitutional amendment granting women the vote with 85% of Republicans in favor, but only 54% of Democrats; in Senate, 80% of Republicans would vote yes, but almost half of Democrats no
  •  April 18, 1920
    Minnesota's FIRST-in-the-nation anti-lynching law, promoted by African-American Republican Nellie Francis, signed by Republican Gov. Jacob Preus
  •  August 18, 1920
    Republican-authored 19th Amendment, giving women the vote, becomes part of Constitution; 26 of the 36 states to ratify had Republican-controlled legislatures
  •  January 26, 1922
    House passes bill authored by U.S. Rep. Leonidas Dyer (R-MO) making lynching a federal crime; Senate Democrats block it with filibuster
  •  June 2, 1924
    Republican President Calvin Coolidge signs bill passed by Republican Congress granting U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans
  •  October 3, 1924
    Republicans denounce three-time Democrat presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan for defending the Ku Klux Klan at 1924 Democratic National Convention
  •  December 8, 1924
    Democratic presidential candidate John W. Davis argues in favor of "separate but equal"
  •  June 12, 1929
    First Lady Lou Hoover invites wife of U.S. Rep. Oscar De Priest (R-IL), an African-American, to tea at the White House, sparking protests by Democrats across the country
  •  August 17, 1937
    Republicans organize opposition to former Ku Klux Klansman and Democrat U.S. Senator Hugo Black, appointed to U.S. Supreme Court by FDR; his Klan background was hidden until after confirmation
  •  June 24, 1940
    Republican Party platform calls for integration of the armed forces; for the balance of his terms in office, FDR refuses to order it
  •  October 20, 1942
    60 prominent African-Americans issue Durham Manifesto, calling on southern Democrats to abolish their all-white primaries
  •  April 3, 1944
    U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Texas Democratic Party's "whites only" primary election system
  •   August 8, 1945
    Republicans condemn Harry Truman's surprise use of the atomic bomb in Japan. The whining and criticism goes on for years. It begins two days after the Hiroshima bombing, when former Republican President Herbert Hoover writes to a friend that "[t]he use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul."
  •  February 18, 1946
    Appointed by Republican President Calvin Coolidge, federal judge Paul McCormick ends segregation of Mexican-American children in California public schools
  •  July 11, 1952
    Republican Party platform condemns "duplicity and insincerity" of Democrats in racial matters
  •  September 30, 1953
    Earl Warren, California's three-term Republican Governor and 1948 Republican vice presidential nominee, nominated to be Chief Justice; wrote landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education
  •  December 8, 1953
    Eisenhower administration Asst. Attorney General Lee Rankin argues for plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education
  •  May 17, 1954
    Chief Justice Earl Warren, three-term Republican Governor (CA) and Republican vice presidential nominee in 1948, wins unanimous support of Supreme Court for school desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education
  •  November 25, 1955
    Eisenhower administration bans racial segregation of interstate bus travel
  •  March 12, 1956
    Ninety-seven Democrats in Congress condemn Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and pledge to continue segregation
  •  June 5, 1956
    Republican federal judge Frank Johnson rules in favor of Rosa Parks in decision striking down "blacks in the back of the bus" law
  •  October 19, 1956
    On campaign trail, Vice President Richard Nixon vows: "American boys and girls shall sit, side by side, at any school ( public or private ) with no regard paid to the color of their skin. Segregation, discrimination, and prejudice have no place in America"
  •  November 6, 1956
    African-American civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy vote for Republican Dwight Eisenhower for President
  •  September 9, 1957
    President Dwight Eisenhower signs Republican Party's 1957 Civil Rights Act
  •  September 24, 1957
    Sparking criticism from Democrats such as Senators John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, President Dwight Eisenhower deploys the 82nd Airborne Division to Little Rock, AR to force Democrat Governor Orval Faubus to integrate public schools
  •  June 23, 1958
    President Dwight Eisenhower meets with Martin Luther King and other African-American leaders to discuss plans to advance civil rights
  •  February 4, 1959
    President Eisenhower informs Republican leaders of his plan to introduce 1960 Civil Rights Act, despite staunch opposition from many Democrats
  •  May 6, 1960
    President Dwight Eisenhower signs Republicans' Civil Rights Act of 1960, overcoming 125-hour, around-the-clock filibuster by 18 Senate Democrats
  •  July 27, 1960
    At Republican National Convention, Vice President and eventual presidential nominee Richard Nixon insists on strong civil rights plank in platform
  •  May 2, 1963
    Republicans condemn Democrat sheriff of Birmingham, AL for arresting over 2,000 African-American schoolchildren marching for their civil rights
  •  June 1, 1963
    Democrat Governor George Wallace announces defiance of court order issued by Republican federal judge Frank Johnson to integrate University of Alabama
  •  September 29, 1963
    Gov. George Wallace (D-AL) defies order by U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson, appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower, to integrate Tuskegee High School
  •  June 9, 1964
    Republicans condemn 14-hour filibuster against 1964 Civil Rights Act by U.S. Senator and former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd (D-WV), who still serves in the Senate
  •  June 10, 1964
    Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) criticizes Democrat filibuster against 1964 Civil Rights Act, calls on Democrats to stop opposing racial equality
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was introduced and approved by a staggering majority of Republicans in the Senate. The Act was opposed by most southern Democrat senators, several of whom were proud segregationists-one of them being Al Gore Sr. Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson relied on Illinois Senator Everett Dirkson, the Republican leader from Illinois, to get the Act passed.
  •  June 20, 1964
    The Chicago Defender, renowned African-American newspaper, praises Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) for leading passage of 1964 Civil Rights Act
  •  March 7, 1965
    Police under the command of Democrat Governor George Wallace attack African-Americans demonstrating for voting rights in Selma, AL
  •  March 21, 1965
    Republican federal judge Frank Johnson authorizes Martin Luther King's protest march from Selma to Montgomery, overruling Democrat Governor George Wallace
  •  August 4, 1965
    Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) overcomes Democrat attempts to block 1965 Voting Rights Act; 94% of Senate Republicans vote for landmark civil right legislation, while 27% of Democrats oppose
  •  August 6, 1965
    Voting Rights Act of 1965, abolishing literacy tests and other measures devised by Democrats to prevent African-Americans from voting, signed into law; higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats vote in favor
  •  July 8, 1970
    In special message to Congress, President Richard Nixon calls for reversal of policy of forced termination of Native American rights and benefits
  •  September 17, 1971
    Former Ku Klux Klan member and Democrat U.S. Senator Hugo Black (D-AL) retires from U.S. Supreme Court; appointed by FDR in 1937, he had defended Klansmen for racial murders
  •  February 19, 1976
    President Gerald Ford formally rescinds President Franklin Roosevelt's notorious Executive Order authorizing internment of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII
  •  September 15, 1981
    President Ronald Reagan establishes the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to increase African-American participation in federal education programs
  •  June 29, 1982
    President Ronald Reagan signs 25-year extension of 1965 Voting Rights Act
  •  August 10, 1988
    President Ronald Reagan signs Civil Liberties Act of 1988, compensating Japanese-Americans for deprivation of civil rights and property during World War II internment ordered by FDR
  •  November 21, 1991
    President George H. W. Bush signs Civil Rights Act of 1991 to strengthen federal civil rights legislation
  •  August 20, 1996
    Bill authored by U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY) to prohibit racial discrimination in adoptions, part of Republicans' Contract With America, becomes law
  •  April 26, 1999
    Legislation authored by U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) awarding Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks is transmitted to President
  •  January 25, 2001
    U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee declares school choice to be "Educational Emancipation"
  •  March 19, 2003
    Republican U.S. Representatives of Hispanic and Portuguese descent form Congressional Hispanic Conference
  •  May 23, 2003
    U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduces bill to establish National Museum of African American History and Culture
  •  February 26, 2004
    Hispanic Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX) condemns racist comments by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); she had called Asst. Secretary of State Roger Noriega and several Hispanic Congressmen "a bunch of white men...you all look alike to me"





Note: Text based in substantial part on the original copyrighted work of Michael Zak, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, a history of the GOP, www.republicanbasics.com.