In the spirit of perspective, shall we compare the Republican Party platform of 1856 with that of 2016?
The Official Proceedings of the 1856 Republican National Convention open with the following statement and two resolutions; one reaffirming commitment to the principles necessary for preservation of the republic and the other voicing the Party’s objection to slavery.
This Convention of Delegates, assembled in pursuance of a call addressed to the people of the United States, without regard to past political differences or divisions, who are opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; to the policy of the present Administration; to the extension of Slavery into Free Territory; in favor of the admission of Kansas as a Free State; of restoring the action of the Federal Government to the principles of Washington and Jefferson; do
Resolved: That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence, and embodied in the Federal Constitution are essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions, and that the Federal Constitution, the rights of the States, and the union of the States, must and shall be preserved.
Resolved: That, with our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the Territories of the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein. That we deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislation, of any individual, or association of individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained.
Beyond these initial statements, the document reasserts that the US Constitution was established by consent of the citizens for the purpose of forming “a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty” and under these pretenses the rights of the people of Kansas had been denied their Constitutional rights. As such, the Republican platform called on the Administration to hold perpetrators accountable and admit Kansas as a free state to the union.
Further, the platform called for the federal government to “render aid” in the construction of a transcontinental railroad to the Pacific Ocean as well as make appropriations to improve rivers and harbors in the interest of security and commerce.
The proceedings conclude with an invitation to members of all parties and affiliations who believe in the “spirit of our institutions as well as the Constitution of our country” to oppose all legislation which might infringe on liberty of conscience or of equal rights among citizens.
Our next entry will present the 2016 Republican Party Platform.
For the full Official Proceeding, see here