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Essay: 63 yrs: Republican Party: An American Legacy of Slavery, Civil Rights, and Preservation

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The Republican Party of the United States of America was founded 163 years ago on March 20, 1854. Currently, it is one of the two biggest political parties in the U.S.; the other one being the Democratic Party. The average Republican favors smaller government, less regulation, and more conservative social policies. Members of the Republican party typically include white men, old people, and the upper class. The Republican party has done a lot to shape the United States as we see it today. In U.S. history, they ended slavery, helped provide equal rights for all races and ethnicities, and helped preserve the environment. Yes, the Republican Party has changed throughout the years and what they stand for has changed, but their core beliefs have stayed the same: America first.

Slavery was once a huge controversial topic 150 years ago. Many people were against it for moral reasons and beliefs, and others wanted to preserve it for economic reasons. Cotton plantation owners used to use slaves in order to pick cotton, a cash crop grown in the south, because it was an extremely popular raw material used to make various clothing. Cotton actually used to be a terrible crop to grow if people were trying to make money because the strain with less seeds could only grow in a small contained region. With Eli Whitney’s “cotton gin”, it became possible to grow the more durable cotton strain with more seeds because the cotton gin allowed for easy separation of the seeds from the cotton. The cotton gin increased the demand for slaves in America with the demand for cotton. Slave were subject to terrible working conditions, excruciating lashes, and psychological pain. Americans living in the northern states saw wanted slavery to end because it did not line up with their values of hard work and liberty. Republicans believed workers under a free market economy worked harder than slaves because slaves only did the bare minimum to prevent getting beat. Real workers had the incentive to work hard for better wages. Others simply wanted black people out of America and wanted America to be a white nation. In the 19th century, an abolition movement was taking place. Abolition extremist demanded the immediate end of slavery; others wanted to contain slavery and then end it gradually:

Some abolitionists were immediatists, meaning that they demanded that all slaves  

be fully emancipated, insisting that slavery was in direct opposition to the ideals of liberty and justice upon which the American nation was founded. Not all opponents of slavery, however, believed in immediate and total abolition. (Lauren Gallow)

 Eventually the Civil War started because Southern States wanted to preserve their rights of having slavery legal. Republican president Abraham Lincoln led the Union against the Confederacy and brought back the United States into one piece. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed every slave that escaped the Confederate Government. The 13th Amendment finally made slavery illegal in the United States thanks to the Republican Party.

The troubling thing about the Civil War is that it did not really give equal rights to black people. African Americans were paid less and treated worse than their white counterparts. In the Supreme Court case, Plessey v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided that black and white institutions could exist as long as they were “equal.” As long as a facility existed for people of color and white people, it was considered “okay.” Most of the times facilities, for white people were far better and cleaner than the ones designated for black people and other minorities. In addition to bad facilities, minorities were subject to voter suppression especially in the Southern States. Poll taxes and literacy tests were a prerequisite that prevented black people from voting even though the 15th amendment gave everybody the right to vote. In the 1950s, the American Civil Rights movement went full speed. Many people started fighting against racial discrimination at work, in businesses, and at public institutions. In 1954, the Warren Court, led by Republican Chief Justice Earl Warren, decided that black and white institutions were not in fact “equal.” Landmark Supreme Court case overturned the previous court case Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” doctrine. This made it illegal to have separate public institutions for white and black people. Some schools continued to ignore the law and still upheld the practice of racial segregation. In 1957 a group of African American high schoolers were prevented from attending Little Rock Central High School after Arkansas Governor Faubus ordered the Arkansas national guard to stop the group of kids:

 In September 1957, a group of African American high school students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were slated to attend Little Rock's Central High School to commence the school's integration. However, Faubus ordered the National Guard to block the students from entering. Hindered by both the National Guard and a white mob protesting desegregation, the students were unable to attend school until President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered federal troops to escort them in on September 23, 1957. (Mika Thornburg)

With President Eisenhower’s interference, it showed the federal government was interested in integration and the preservation of law and civil rights. On 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after some Democrats tried to filibuster it. The Civil Rights Act outlawed the act of discrimination based off race, gender, age, and religion, and nationality.

Republican President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was an environmentalist and wanted to preserve the natural beauty of America. He was pretty much a boy scout that was a president. President Roosevelt helped create national parks in America so it can be protected and enjoyed by millions of Americans in the future. Without national parks, acres of forests would have been stripped of their former beauty and become a shell of its former self. Campers can thank the Republicans for national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. A nasty side effect of an industrious nation is all the pollutions that get added into the air, water, and ground. President Nixon decided this was a type of regulation that needed to be enacted in order to ensure that Americans living in industrial and mining sites were protected from health hazards. Environmental problems used to much more visible 50 years ago compared to today. Gina McCarthy, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said, “I chose to get into the environment because when I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, the environment was visibly a problem. Rivers were burning and you couldn’t see across the street.” The EPA stopped most dirty business practices. Fortunately, the law is taken seriously in the United States and the amount of pollution that was introduced in the environment was reduced dramatically, “From 1970 to 2015, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 70 percent while gross domestic product grew by 246 percent. (Environmental Protection Agency)”

The Republican Party has done a lot to shape America; depending on one’s opinion, for better or for worse.  The Republican Party will continue to shape America because of President Donald Trump. With the shifting demographics of America, the Grand Old Party will have to change with it to survive. Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on many topics for decades, so only time will tell which party will survive into the future.  

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