Prior to the Civil War there were two major political parties in the United States: the Democrats, who believed Americans should have the freedom of choice to own slaves; and the Whigs, who wanted to be the big tent party embracing free and slave states.
The Whigs diminished in power and in Ripon, Wisconsin, an anti-slavery group met in February of 1854 to discuss a new party.
Later that year, on this day, July 6, 1854, anti-slavery activists came from all over the North to a State Convention in Jackson, Michigan, where they named their new party the Republican Party.
They demanded the Fugitive Slave Law be repealed, and that polygamy, the having of more than one wife, which was growing in western territories, be stopped by supporting the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman.
The chief plank in the Republican Party’s original National Platform, 1856, was “to prohibit…those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”