In May 1856, the first Republican meeting in Oregon was held in Jackson County to nominate county officers and adopt a strong platform declaring freedom throughout the United States, and the Oregon Republican Party was officially organized in Albany just three months later.
By December of that same year, the Oregonian newspaper stated that almost every county had held a Republican convention and adopted a ‘free state platform’, in favor of the admission of Oregon to the Union as a free state.
The first nominating convention of the Oregon Republican Party was held in Salem on April 21, 1859. Delegates supported William Seward, who was in favor of Oregon’s statehood, and was noted for his strong position against slavery.
Oregon was settled largely through the Lincoln Administration’s Homestead Act of 1862, and subsequent Republican-backed laws which put millions of acres of land in private hands, built Oregon’s first ‘military wagon roads’, promoted safer coastwise and river navigation, and encouraged the building of railroad connections.
During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. Republican-controlled Congresses passed the 13th and 14th amendments that outlawed slavery and secured voting rights for African-Americans.
The Eisenhower Administration advocated for and passed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, which created the Interstate Highway System. This is one of the most successful public works programs in history, with Republicans in the legislature supporting transportation modernization.
Here in Oregon, Republican Governor Tom McCall in 1967 signed House Bill 1601 into law, which guaranteed that Oregon’s beaches would remain public and accessible to all people. McCall’s other environmental achievements included Oregon’s “Bottle Bill’, the cleanup of the Willamette River, and land-use legislation.