150th Anniversary of the North Carolina Republican Party

“The Grand Old Party” seems an especially appropriate nickname for North Carolina Republican Party today—the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of the party in the Tar Heel State.

Led by North Carolina Standard editor W.W. Holden, a number of prominent white citizens who had been pre-Civil War Whigs, anti-secessionists, or one-time members of the Peace Party joined with African Americans eager for a long-denied voice in the governance of the state in organizing a convention in Raleigh on March 27, 1867. The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate to Congress and the nation that North Carolinians were loyal and ready for full readmission to the Union. A second goal was to wrest power from the Conservative party forces that governed the state. The 147 delegates in attendance collectively represented 56 counties in what was the first political meeting in North Carolina with full participation by both black and white citizens. Alexander H. Jones of Henderson, a strong advocate of voting rights for African American males, was elected president of the convention. Two white and two black vice presidents and one white and one black secretary were also chosen.

Delegate Robert Paine Dick of Greensboro proposed that the convention should proceed with organizing the Republican Party in North Carolina. But not all delegates supported that name for the organization. Several, including Daniel R. Goodloe and Benjamin S. Hedrick, argued for “Union Party”, saying that it would be more acceptable to many North Carolinians the organization hoped to attract. But the prevailing sentiment was for “Republican Party.” The next day, May 28th, in the first of a series of resolutions the delegates passed, it was resolved:

That in view of our present political condition, our relations to the National Government and the people of all sections of the country, we do this day with proud satisfaction unfurl the brilliant and glorious banner of THE REPUBLICAN PARTY and earnestly appeal to every true and patriotic man in the State to rally in its support.

The March 30, 1867, issue of the Raleigh Tri-Weekly Standard provides a detailed account of the two-day convention. Digital access to this issue of the Standard is available via Chronicling America.

Several years of the Standard and a number of other North Carolina newspapers have been digitized and made available by the North Carolina Collection thorough its participation in the Chronicling America newspaper digitization project coordinated by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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