The Republican Party is one of the two major extant parties in the United States. The party is sometimes referred to as the GOP for "Grand Old Party." (The conservative party is not actually older than the Democratic Party.) The party was founded on February 28, 1854 by a coalition of different interests who opposed the expansion of slavery and wanted to industrialize the United States. Since then the party has undergone a variety of changes and now is a socially conservative party with a generally libertarian attitude towards economic issues. Presidents from the party include: Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George H W Bush, George W Bush, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The party was founded by disaffected Free-Soilers, Whigs and Democrats (mainly from the North). The first Republican candidate for President was John Frémont who was unsuccessful in his bid for the Presidency. Abraham Lincoln then ran in 1860 and was president during the US Civil War. In the post Civil War era, Reconstruction and associated resentment of the South in the North allowed the party to stay strong through the turn of the century. As slavery fell into the past, the party became more a party of industry and business. Later, in the 1920s, the party stood for high tariffs and non-involvement with the League of Nations. During the Depression, Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt as the party became more in favor of small government and against the New Deal. Hoover's very unsuccessful attempts to end the Great Depression were rejected in favor of the New Deal, which had much greater success. Later, in the 1950s and 60s, the party also took on a strong state's rights attitude and rejected federal efforts to desegregate. During this time, the so called Dixiecrats left the Democratic party for the Republicans after the collapse of the 3rd party States' Rights Democratic Party. Prior to this time period, the South had generally voted Democrat in reaction to the Civil War and Reconstruction. However, often in this time period, other candidates such as George Wallace, ran on 3rd party tickets and continued to capture these voters.
The contemporary Republican Party represents a wide array of interests such as the conservative evangelicals and the economic libertarians. The party has had some internal conflict over attitudes about how governments should run and how large they should be, what the party stands for, and what the party's attitude towards neo-conservatism should be especially in regard to foreign policy. The party is also divided over immigration issues with some members (such as George Bush) favoring workers visas and permits and some other members favoring strict control of immigration and strong action against illegal immigration.