Today's GOP has roots in anti-slavery crusade

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Washington (CNN) -- Some may not realize that the modern Republican Party owes its origin to the fight over slavery nearly two centuries ago.

In the tumultuous mid-1800s, right before the Civil War, some political activists were concerned about keeping slavery from spreading into new western territories, and they saw no way to stop it through existing political powers: the Democrats and the Whigs (the pro-Congress party of the mid 1800s that largely destroyed itself in the 1852 elections in a battle over slavery).

So they formed a new party, taking the name "Republicans" in a salute to earlier American politicians.

By 1861, they had their first president: Abraham Lincoln. Soon after, slavery fell. The Whig party disappeared. And the Republicans began a long steady rise in power....

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