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Think Tank

How It Can Work

A Summary

The Problem &
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The Principle of Minority Power

The Last
Successful
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Coalitions of Constituencies

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We Need a Third Party Think Tank…

The Last Successful
American Third Party

Began in 1854; Still Here

In Brief: The Republican Party began by electing members to Congress; it worked.
Click to read about building Coalitions of Constituencies

The Republican Party didn't begin with Lincoln
The last successful third party in American politics elected its first President in 1860. The party of course was the Republicans and the President was Abraham Lincoln. But the Republican Party didn't begin with Lincoln, and it didn't begin in 1860.

Still, the birth of the Republican Party was meteoric by today's standards. They were organized on February 28, 1854, held their first convention on July 6, and elected forty-four Representatives and fifteen Senators in November (19% of the House; 25% of the Senate)*. In the 1854 and '58 elections, with the help of some other parties, they denied majority control of the House to the Democrats. They unsuccessfully ran John Fremont for President in 1856. When they elected Lincoln as President in 1860, they took majority control of the House and the Senate. By the time Lincoln began his first term as President, the party was in place and in power.

There were many factors contributing to the fast rise of the party, most notably division in the Democratic Party and the virtual collapse of the Whig Party over slavery and other issues.

The Message for Our Times:
But the critical message for our times is that the party secured political power via congressional and other offices well before it experienced Presidential power. In the House, they denied majority power to the Democrats in the 1854 election, and again in 1858, before taking their own majority in 1860. Those effective House minorities gave them governing power, even though they didn't hold the presidency or a Senate majority.

*In these years, especially in 1854, party definitions and membership were not always clear, and various sources give differing numbers. The official information on the sites of the U.S. House and Senate doesn't recognize the Republican Party in 1854, referring to it, apparently along with some other parties, as "opposition." If you have better, definitive information, and the sources for it, please contact J. C. Adamson.

Click to:
Read about building Coalitions of Constituencies

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Please Speak Up…

  • If you have a response or an additional thought regarding something on this page,
  • If you'd like to write an article for possible publication on these pages,
  • If you have an idea or suggestion about developing the think tank…

…Send it along to: leaveparty@greatreality.com

The political saga of the past several years has brought changes across the polical spectrum. It has not, however, changed the fundamental principles expressed on these pages.

Some of the pages have been revised, and some await revision, to add content and to update specific references to parties, events, etc. While that revision proceeds, please read the information posted here for its fundamental ideas and principles.

As always, your comments are welcome: leaveparty@greatreality.com

copyright © 2010, J. C. Adamson