From Ohio History Central
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While most Americans identified the Republican Party during the late 1800s by its opposition to slavery, other fundamental beliefs united Republicans together. Many of these ideas still dominate the Republican Party's ideology today. Traditionally, Republicans have supported a strong and centralized federal government that has supreme authority over states. At the same time, Republicans have historically favored a smaller government that played only minor roles in the lives of the American people. During the 1860s and the 1870s, Republicans found support from primarily Northern residents, including farmers, factory workers, and businessmen. During the latter part of the 1800s, many people began to view the Republicans as the party of the upper class, as Republican leaders were often wealthier businessmen, and the party's actions tended to favor business over farming.
During the early late 1800s and the early 1900s, Republican support weakened among the working class. In addition, many Americans, including a sizable number of Republicans, believed that American society had lost its moral fiber. As a result of these factors, many Republicans became affiliated with the Progressive Movement, a reform movement designed to assist the working class attain better working conditions in the factories, as well as to instill Protestant religious values in all Americans. Progressives implemented Prohibition, banned the playing of professional baseball in many communities on Sundays, and emphasized religious fundamentalism, all to instill moral beliefs in Americans. During the Progressive Era, the Republican Party split into two
groups�those Republicans interested primarily in reforming America and those Republicans still favorable to business. This division permitted the Democratic Party to gain control of the presidency between 1913 and 1921, but Republicans reunited in time for the presidential election of 1920. The Republicans remained in control of the White House until 1933.
The principal reason for why the Republicans did not maintain control of the presidency during the 1930s was the Great Depression. The American people blamed the Republican presidents for causing this economic downturn. They also chastised the government for not responding to the needs of the people more quickly. The Democratic presidential candidate in the election of 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, easily defeated the Republican incumbent, Herbert Hoover. Because he tried to help the American people cope with the Great Depression by creating various government programs and because of his strong leadership during World War II, Roosevelt was elected to four consecutive terms. His presidency marked the beginning of the Democratic Party's resurgence. Between 1932 and 1980, the Republicans won only four presidential elections and enjoyed a majority in the United States Congress for only four years.
During the Civil War, a majority of Ohioans supported the war effort, although there was a sizable minority, known as the Copperheads, who opposed the conflict. Following the war, Republicans dominated state government really until modern day. Democrats gained control of the governor's seat on numerous occasions, but Republicans have generally enjoyed a majority in the Ohio legislature. Within Ohio, as the state began to industrialize and become more urban, most businessmen favored the Republican Party, while many working-class Ohioans preferred the Democratic Party. Historically, the Democratic Party has been strongest in the northeastern and southern sections of the state. The northeastern portion was the most heavily industrialized portion of Ohio, thus a large number of working-class people resided there. In southern Ohio, industrial development occurred infrequently, causing many people to believe that the Republican-dominated government could have done more to assist them. Between the Civil War and the late 1950s, Republicans usually remained in control of state government, although the Democratic Party at times mounted a stiff challenge. The Democrats gained dominance in Ohio during the 1960s and the 1970s, but since the 1990s, Republicans have had firm control over state government offices.