Considered the ideological and historical successors of Northern members of the conservative Whig Party, the Republican Party was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists who opposed the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed for the potential expansion of chattel slavery into the western territories. It supported classical liberalism and economic reform, while opposing the expansion of slavery into the free territories. The party initially had a very limited presence in the South, but was very successful in the North. By 1858, it had enlisted former Whigs and former Free Soilers to form majorities in nearly every state in New England. Seeing a future threat to the practice of slavery with the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, many Southern states seceded from the nation and joined the Confederacy.
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