The Republican Party came into being in March 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, under the auspices of such luminaries as Salmon P. Chase and Horace Greeley. It's initial impetus was not, contrary to popular belief, the abolition of slavery, but merely its containment to the Southern States. Again from the 1856 platform: "...it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery."
But the Republican Party was about more than just slavery. The Republicans of 1856 had the same incentive as the republicans of 1776 – the establishment and maintenance of freedom, codified as Guns, Opportunity, and Principle. Guns – for freedom from the government. Opportunity – for freedom from poverty. And Principle – for freedom from error.
The code of Guns, Opportunity, and Principle found a home in the Republican party in 1854, but the Republican Party odes not own the code. Indeed, there are those today who call themselves Republican who have violated the code – who have facilitated unprincipled attacks on our right to protect ourselves from the government and on our opportunity to exercise our own free will in the pursuit of our own happiness. These people are known by the acronym RINO – Republican In Name Only.
But the McCains and the McConnells will pass away. They are only symptoms of the sickness that infests our republic today. And the sickness itself will pass away, but the code of Guns, Opportunity, and Principle will endure – because it has been the essence of the human spirit since long before it was initialized as GOP a hundred sixty years ago.. This code of republicanism will live on forever in the hearts and minds of free men everywhere – whether or not there is a Republican Party.