On February 28, 1854, the Republican Party was officially formed. The occasion took place in Ripon, Wisconsin, where members of the Whig Party gathered for the purpose of establishing a new political affiliation.
The Whig Party was formed in 1833; at the time, it was one of the two major political factions of the country, the other being the Democratic Party. The Whig Party initially grew out of opposition towards President Andrew Jackson, who was seen by members as tyrannical and incapable of successfully leading the country through its current crisis over slavery.
This led to members of the Whig Party meeting in Wisconsin in 1854. With the establishment of their new political party, they sought to make their core position one of anti-slavery. Specifically, they opposed the spread of slavery, which was then at risk of expanding into the western territories of the United States.
Two years after the official establishment of the Republican Party, the Whig Party dissolved. Its dissolution fell in line with both the creation of the GOP and with the successful passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise, led to the creation of two new territories, and established popular sovereignty.
In these territories, a Black American’s status as either “enslaved” or “free” was to be determined by popular sovereignty, which meant slavery would not be able to expand into the territories while under the leadership of the explicitly anti-slavery and newly formed Republican Party. The fight against slavery remained ongoing, however, and in a few short years would ultimately lead to the Civil War.