The National Republican History Museum is America’s sole garrison for republicanism’s authentic story. Without biased political filters, the Museum documents a grass roots movement that inspired the nation to fully realize its founding principles. Beginning with the pre-Civil War conditions that led to gatherings of concerned citizens in communities across the northern tier of the states to the movements that followed and continue to this day, the Museum will demonstrate how Republicans became a determined voice for American exceptionalism. The story captures how the Republican Ideal has enabled independence, freedom, and economic prosperity to proliferate nationwide.
The Museum is a professional history that will endure for generations. Its presentation is apolitical, providing an objective and factual historical report. Since the Party’s founding in 1854 by citizens of diverse political philosophies, Republicans have promoted bold ideas, courageous leadership, and Constitutional adherence. Presenting that story in an accurate, educational, and entertaining manner for visitors of all ages is the goal.
The Museum is a privately-funded endeavor, devoid of governmental largess and special accommodation, driven by contemporary concerned citizens’ desire to showcase Republicans’ rich role in shaping American history. Located in Ripon, Wisconsin, the Museum sits adjacent to and overlooking the Little White Schoolhouse, “Birthplace of the Republican Party” National Historic Landmark – where republicanism’s principles came to life over 160 years ago.
The Republican Party not only enjoyed nearly immediate success after its founding, but after the elections of 1860, went on to dominate American politics for the next 72 years – a period often described as the Party’s Golden Age. Its success was due initially to its record in the Civil War and to its policies, including a protective tariff, sound money – which kept interest rates low and private investment high, and active government involvement in infrastructure development and security of the homeland. These policies resonated strongly with a broad spectrum of the American public at a time when most Americans were engaged in agriculture or in small-scale, largely family-owned businesses or manufacturing enterprises and were deeply imbued with a strong sense of individualism.
The elections of 1932 ended this Republican ascendancy, sending the party into the Congressional wilderness for 62 years. American societal evolution precipitated this fall including a decline in agriculture, a shift in manufacturing to large corporations, and societal urbanization all of which served to erode confidence in the Party’s traditional policies and led, instead, to a popularization of the idea of a larger government focused more on economic manipulation and shielding people from the impact of major economic swings.
Waking from its slumber with the 1980 “Reagan Revolution,” the country experienced a conservative upsurge that led to a resounding Republican victory in 1994 Congressional elections. While Democrats were able to win three of the next five presidential elections, Republicans have come to dominate the House while also gaining control over an increasing number of state houses and legislatures. Going forward, Republicans, face the quandary of reorienting their policies and outlooks in the face of these new expectations while, simultaneously, maintaining defining Republican tenets that adherents believe essential to long term societal success.