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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Historic City Elections

Historic City Elections

GRHC - February 17th, 2014

More than one town has claimed itself the GOP's birthplace. One of those towns was Grand Rapids, back in 1854.


More than one town claims itself the GOP’s birthplace. One such claim has been made that the Republican Party’s first prenatal election victory occurred in Grand Rapids. In 1852, Aaron Turner became convinced that the Whig party, which his Eagle newspaper had supported, would never again carry the country because of its strong pro-slavery position.

Mr. Turner, a young man, wished to ally himself with a growing, rather than a waning party. Therefore, the Eagle boldly declared itself an independent journal. It openly advocated the formation of a new free party to unite all the elements opposed to the extension of slavery.

As the spring election of 1854 approached, the Eagle suggested placing a new organization on the local ticket instead of the old Whig ticket. The paper garnered the support of freedom-loving Whigs, Free Soilers, and many young men just beginning their political life. They proposed to combine all the factions that were opposed to the pro-slavery Democrats. The old-line Whigs proposed to run a straight Whig ticket with Noyes Avery as their candidate for mayor; the new party men rallied around Wilder Foster.

This was the first election in which the yet unorganized, and unnamed, Republican Party put a ticket into the field anywhere in the United States, or won a victory. Although this was a local election, the issue upon which it was fought was the opposition to the spread of slavery.

Full Details

TitleHistoric City Elections
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; elections; GOP; republicans
Pubdate StringFebruary 17th, 2014

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