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Republican Party

In 1854, abolitionists began to meet to discuss ways to fight the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed United States territories to determine whether or not they would allow slavery. At one such meeting, in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, the Republican Party was formed. The first Republican to win the presidency was Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Since Lincoln's term, 18 of the 28 presidents have been Republicans.

The Republican Party began using campaign advertising items during the 1856 presidential campaign, including flyers, newspaper editions, ribbons, banners, flags, and other items. One campaign item from this era was the campaign ferrotype button. The buttons had a ferrotype tin photograph in the center and writing or designs embossed around the surround. A hole was punched in the center top so that the button could be worn on a lanyard.

Republicans also began using celluloid campaign buttons during the 1896 election. These buttons have been the primary item used in political campaigns ever since. However, campaign buttons are becoming a rare item as politicians choose to invest their money in television and Internet campaigns rather than souvenirs.


Quick Facts

  • The elephant as a symbol of the Republican Party was popularized by cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1874. However, the Republican Party used the elephant as a symbol as early as the 1860 election
  • A ferrotype from the 1860 election showing Abraham Lincoln on one side and Hannibal Hamlin on the other side sold in July 2013 for $1,202
  • One of the most famous campaign slogans for a Republican candidate was the I Like Ike slogan from the 1952 presidential election. This slogan, in support of Dwight D. Eisenhower, appeared on buttons, hats, posters, and numerous campaign items

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