Has the Republican National Committee ever Fired its Chairman? You betcha!

-By Michael Zak

In 1864, the GOP relabeled itself the “National Union Party” in an effort to attract moderate Democrats in support of President Lincoln’s re-election. To reach out even further to Democrats, the convention dumped the Republican vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, from the ticket and replaced him with a Democrat, Andrew Johnson. The man most responsible for this tragedy was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Henry Raymond.

A former lieutenant governor, Raymond had founded The New York Times. He won the chairmanship by arguing that Republicans should shift toward the Democrats. To that end, he convinced the national convention to nominate a Democrat as Abraham Lincoln’s running mate. Like his namesake, Andrew Jackson Johnson rose to prominence in Tennessee. The only southern senator not to go with the Confederacy, Johnson seemed a good prospect for postwar reconciliation, but instead of being a moderate, President Johnson turned out to be a hard-line Democrat. And, one of his strongest supports was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Henry Raymond.

In August 1866, Johnson tried to divide Republicans by setting up his own party, using the “National Union” name. The effort failed, because at what was supposed to be the founding convention, nearly all the delegates were Democrats. One of the few Republicans to attend was the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Henry Raymond.

Republicans knew they had to act quickly. On September 3, in what amounted to a national convention, delegates from both northern and southern states met in Philadelphia to retake the party. Charging him with “abandonment of the principles” of the party, the RNC ousted Henry Raymond and elected the governor of New Jersey, Marcus Ward, as the new chairman.

With the midterm elections just two months away, Republicans decided to take a hard-line stance of their own. They would offer voters a clear alternate to President Johnson and congressional Democrats. Republican candidates vowed to block and even reverse the Democrat policy agenda. As a result, Republicans increased their majorities in both houses of Congress and President Johnson would be a lame duck for the remainder of his term.

The Republican Party won big-time by getting back to basics.

(Originally posted at BigGovernment.com)
Michael Zak is a popular speaker to Republican organizations around the nation, showing office-holders and candidates and activists how they would benefit tremendously from appreciating the heritage of our Grand Old Party. Back to Basics for the Republican Party is his acclaimed history of the GOP, cited by Clarence Thomas in a Supreme Court decision. His Grand Old Partisan blog celebrates more than fifteen decades of Republican heroes and heroics. See www.RepublicanBasics.com for more information.

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