June 4-5, 1867
When the national Republican Party first organized in 1854 with an anti-slavery platform, it did not compete in Southern states. Indeed, its 1860 nominee for president, Abraham Lincoln, did not appear on Alabama’s ballot. But the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction brought sweeping changes, and on June 4 and 5, 1867, the Alabama Republican Party held its first convention in Montgomery. A year later, William Hugh Smith was elected the state’s first Republican governor. During much of Reconstruction, Republicans dominated the Legislature and were responsible for electing the first African Americans to the statehouse. The 1868 election, for example, brought 27 African American Republicans into the Legislature.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama and the History of the Alabama G.O.P.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) led the U.S. through the Civil War. In 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved peoples in former Confederate states. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
Lincoln and Johnson campaign banner, c. 1864. (Oakley and Tompson, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
William Hugh Smith (1826-1899) was a Randolph County lawyer who became Alabama’s first Republican governor in 1868, during the Reconstruction Era. He represented Randolph County in the Alabama House of Representatives, was a judge of the 10th judicial circuit and helped establish the Republican Party in Alabama. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Dallas County native Benjamin Sterling Turner (1825-1894) was one of several African Americans elected to the U.S. Congress from the former states in the Confederacy during Reconstruction. Prior to serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1871-73, he was a tax collector in Dallas County and a Selma city councilman. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Library of Congress)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.