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History of the Republican Party


Renewing the party

The next 20 years were a time of rebuilding for the Republican Party. This effort included establishing a greater role for women. Launching a tradition that the RNC chairman and co-chairman be of opposite sex, in 1937, Marion E. Martin was named first assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee. Three years later, the Republican Party became the first major political party to endorse an equal rights amendment for women in its platform.

In the post-Depression era, five presidential terms were shared by only two presidents. The Democrats ignored the two-term tradition upheld by the Republican Party and allowed Roosevelt to run for and win an unprecedented four terms. Following Roosevelt's death, Vice President Harry S Truman became president. It was not until 1946, with the 80th Congress, that the Republicans won a majority in both the Senate and the House. Notably, it was this Congress that produced the first balanced federal budget since Republican Herbert Hoover was president.

With the Truman administration held responsible for failure to arbitrate a crippling steel strike, escalating inflation and the Korean War, in 1950 the renewed Republican Party made strong gains in Congress.

Two years later World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president, carrying the party to its first presidential victory in almost 25 years. During Eisenhower's two terms, the nation quickly recovered from the economic strain of the war. Focusing on rebuilding the nation and re-establishing its pre-eminence, as well as his party's, he established the Interstate Highway System and forged ahead with America's space exploration program. Continuing the Republicans' commitment to women, in 1953 he appointed a woman, Oveta Culp Hobby, as the first secretary of his newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

The Eisenhower administration also made special efforts to enforce the 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education Supreme Court decision that declared "separate but equal" school accommodations unconstitutional. On the heels of implementing this decision through the protection of the National Guard, Eisenhower completed formal integration of blacks in the armed forces. Charged with upholding the rights of blacks, Eisenhower appointed a Civil Rights Commission and created a civil rights division in the Justice Department. All of these actions culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which gave the attorney general power to obtain injunctions to stop Southern registrars and officials from interfering with blacks seeking to register and vote.