A Short History of the Oregon Republican Party

A Short History of the Oregon Republican Party The Founding of the Oregon Republican Party Preceded Statehood in 1859

Senator Edward D. Baker

In May 1856, the first Republican meeting in Oregon was held in Jackson County to nominate county officers and to adopt a strong platform declaring freedom throughout the United States. On August 20th 1856, “a number of friends of the Republican cause,” met in Albany and organized the Oregon Republican Party. At this meeting steps were taken to organize county and precinct conventions and to recruit friends of the movement throughout the Oregon Territory to support candidates for office who were in harmony with the party aims.

The Oregonian newspaper, while not at first cordial, stated as early as December 6, 1856 that “almost every county had held a Republican convention and adopted a ‘free state platform’, similar to the one adopted in the Convention at Albany on February 11, 1857” which moved unequivocally 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. The First Republican nominee for Congress, Portland attorney David Logan, came within sixteen votes of being elected. It also selected delegates to the national nominating convention supporting William Seward, who had been outspoken in favor of Oregon's statehood, and was noted for his strong position against slavery. From our beginning, Oregon Republicans have favored ‘free soil, free labor, free speech, free men’ and Union.

On September 24th 1860, the Oregon Legislature rejected ‘the surrender of state sovereignty’ confirmed statehood status, and elected Republican Colonel Edward Dickenson Baker as U.S. Senator for the long term and Colonel J.W. Nesmith, Democrat for the short term. Senator Baker, a close friend of Abraham Lincoln, served the Union both in the Senate on the battlefield and died leading Union troops at the Battle of Balls Bluff on October 21, 1861, the only US Senator to die in battle in United States history.

For most of our history, Oregon has been a Republican State

President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln won Oregon’s first Presidential Election in 1860, when Democrat John C. Breckenridge and Stephen Douglas split the popular vote. Lincoln won Oregon in his re- election campaign of 1864. The Republican nominee for President won Oregon from 1872 to 1884, when Grover Cleveland won, and from 1888 through 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Bull Moose’ party run split the Republican vote letting Woodrow Wilson win Oregon and the nation.

The Republican candidate for President won Oregon from 1916 through FDR’s first win in 1932. In 1948 Thomas Dewey beat Harry Truman in Oregon soundly. Dwight Eisenhower won Oregon handily in 1952 and 1956. Richard Nixon beat John Kennedy in Oregon in 1960 and came back in 1968 and 1972 to win Oregon by large margins.

OR Voter Registration Graph: 1910-2000

Gerald Ford beat Jimmy Carter here in 1976 and Ronald Reagan won Oregon twice in 1980 and 1984 by large margins. Oregon Republicans have not won the popular Presidential vote since 1984. Republicans have won 25 of the 38 Presidential popular votes in Oregon’s History. Twenty of Oregon’s thirty seven Governors have been Republicans.


Oregon Republican Accomplishments

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 our first ‘military wagon roads’ and 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. Lincoln set in motion the transcontinental railroad, which connected America coast-to-coast.

Republicans favored women's suffrage. Its 1916 platform declared "The Republican party...favors the extension of the suffrage to women, but recognizes the right of each state to settle this question for itself." The 19th Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified with support from 36 legislatures, 26 of which were Republican- controlled.

The Eisenhower Administration advocated for and passed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 which created the Interstate Highway System including I-5 and I-84, Oregon’s major north-south and east-west freeways. This is one of the most successful public works programs in history, from which we benefit greatly today. 90% of the construction costs for this massive 20-year project were financed by fuel and tire taxes with 10% coming from the States, where Republicans in the legislature supported transportation modernization.

Thank You Republicans

Gov Tom McCall

Thank you for protecting our state beaches…

In the 1967 legislative session Republican Governor Tom McCall signed House Bill 1601 into law. This bill included the support of Republican Representative Sidney Bazett from Grants Pass. Rep. Bazett, who was a committee chairman, kept the bill alive in committee until support could be formed. The bill, which was the first of its kind to be enacted by any legislative body in the nation, guaranteed that the state’s coastline would remain secure for generations to come. The bill specifically guaranteed public access to the state's beaches and established a state easement on all beaches between the low water mark and the vegetation line. The bill expanded upon an almost 60-year-old law that decreed public ownership of beaches between low- and high-water lines, but still allowed for privatization of the "dry sands" area between the high water line and the vegetation line.






Joseph H. Rainey

Thank you for electing the first African American Congressmen…


The first African American to be elected and serve as a U.S. Congressman was Republican Joseph H. Rainey from South Carolina; he served from 1870 to 1879. “Born into slavery, Joseph Rainey was not only the first African American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives but also the first African American to preside over the House, and the longest-serving African American during the tumultuous Reconstruction period”.

The first African American to be elected and serve as a U.S. Senator was Republican Hiram R. Revels from Mississippi; he served from 1870-1871.

The first African American to serve as Governor of a U.S. State was Republican Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback; he served as the Governor of Louisiana from 1872-1873. P.B.S. Pinchback was the son of a Mississippi white planter and a freed slave; he became active in Republican Party politics in Louisiana as a delegate in the Republican State Convention of 1867 and to the Constitutional Convention in 1869.





Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Thank you for nominating the first female Supreme Court Justice…

Republican President Ronald Reagan nominated Republican Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Associate Justice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice O’Connor served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1981 to 2006. In the 24 years as an associate justice, she played a crucial role in decisions on major issues such as abortion and the death penalty. Judge O'Connor compiled an impressive list of academic, civic, political and legal achievements.




President Ronald Reagan

Thank you for keeping taxes low…

President Ronald Reagan President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Recovery Act of 1981, “Represented a fundamental shift in the course of federal income tax policy. This brought the top tax bracket down 50 percent. In addition to accelerated cost recovery, the 1981 Act also instituted a 10 percent Investment Tax Credit to spur additional capital formation. As inflation came down and as more and more of the tax cuts from the 1981 Act went into effect, the economy began a strong and sustained pattern of growth.” In President Ronald Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986, “The number of tax brackets was reduced and the personal exemption and standard deduction amounts were increased and indexed for inflation, thereby relieving millions of taxpayers of any Federal income tax burden.” President George W. Bush’s Economic Growth and Tax Relief and Reconciliation Act of 2001, “represented a resumption of a number of other trends in tax policy. …The 2001 tax cut also continued the move toward a consumption tax by expanding a variety of savings incentives.”




Yellowstone, Our First National Park

Thank you for creating the world’s first national park…

Republican Representative William D. Kelley was one of the first people to suggest preserving Yellowstone as a national park. On March 1, 1872 Republican President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law that created Yellowstone as the first national park in the United States.

You are the future

The next chapter in this history will be written by Oregon Republicans today and in the future, acting in the cause of freedom, enterprise, limited government and innovation, we will continue to make Oregon and our nation better through the ‘support of men and women for office who are in harmony with the party aims.’