The Republican Party emerged in 1854 as opposition rose in the shadow of federal legislation (Kansas-Nebraska Act) which threatened to extend slavery into the territories. The Party had almost no presence in the South, but by 1858 its support from former Whigs and Free Soil Democrats created majorities in nearly every Northern state. The name was chosen from Thomas Jefferson’s “Democratic-Republican” party, reminding all of equality pivotal to our freedoms from the American Revolution.
With the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first president from this state, the party continued its dominance on the national scene through the Union victory and abolition of slavery in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Republicans of that era continued their support of freedom and liberty, as they were instrumental in the passage of the 13th (outl, our awing slavery), 14th (guaranteeing equal protection) and 15th (securing voting rights of minorities) Amendments. They were also instrumental in the suffage movement, as the first major party supporting the right to vote by women and the first party to send a woman to Congress.
Republicans believe the power of the individual, not the government, creates the best decisions — supportive of local involvement and control, rather than bureaucracy from afar. Reducing regulations, empowering individuals and their rights, accepting the government has only power granted to it by the people, are fundamental principles of the Party. Powers and rights come from the people, after receiving them from a Higher Power — not from the government!
Nationally, our nation has prospered under Republican leadership, from Lincoln and Grant to McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt; from Eisenhower and Nixon to Reagan and the Bush family. The GOP (“Grand Old Party”), as it is often called, lost its majorities during the Great Depression (1929–40), when FDR expanded the role of government to heights unseen — until Barack Obama. Conservative principles — smaller, more efficient government; personal responsibility and duty; protection of innocent human life, especially the unborn and the elderly, traditional family values, and a strong national defense are cornerstones of the party. These principles were pivotal in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the success the Party in seven of the last dozen elections since 1968, the first presidential election after Republicans were instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965.
Locally, members of the Republican Party has represented Winnebago County well in the past decades. Examples include Young Republicans who have risen to state leadership roles — Dave Syverson (state senate) and Mary Gaziano (state Young Republicans), to local legislators who now represent us in Springfield (Joe Sosnowski and John Cabello), to conservative leadership that has maintained fiscally responsible budgets from our county board. Many active in the party have become elected officials locally, judges or legislators — serving their community with the responsible principles of the GOP. The WCRCC supports all Republican candidates for office, consistent with the terms of its by-laws.