The choice of New York City as the site for the
Republican National Convention this year is both
politically and historically correct.
After all, the modern Republican Party in America owes
much of its beginnings to Republicans from New York.
Names like Greeley, Seward and Corning figure heavily
in party annals.
Influential editor Horace Greeley of the New York
Tribune was one of the first members of the new
Republican Party when it surfaced in 1854 and pressed
hard to prevent slavery from expanding into the
country's new territories. Greeley and Erastus
Corning, a founder of the New York Central Railroad,
played significant roles in delivering the 1860 GOP
nomination for president to Abraham Lincoln of
Illinois. William Seward, a U.S. senator, was one of
the most prominent New Yorkers in Republican politics
and a contender for the Republican nomination. (He
would go on to serve as Lincoln's secretary of state.)
New York City was where, in 1859, Lincoln, fresh from
his brilliant performance in the famous
Lincoln-Douglas debates, turned up at Cooper Union to
continue his attacks on the spread of slavery. At that
point, Lincoln was an unannounced political aspirant.
With closely reasoned phrases, Lincoln examined the
origins of sectional strife and the inconsistent
positions of Senator Stephen Douglas and the United
States Chief Justice Roger Taney. He called on his
fellow Republicans to resist Southern demands to
recognize slavery as being right, but rather to "stand
by our duty fearlessly and effectively."
The Cooper Union speech, reported immediately around
the country by telegraph, concluded with this appeal:
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that
faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we
His reasoned and eloquent presentation electrified the
1,500 New Yorkers who heard him and gained Lincoln
valuable support in Seward's home territory.
New York Republicans also take pride in Theodore
Roosevelt of Long Island, a New York legislator and
New York City police commissioner while still a young
man. He came to national attention as the leader of
the legendary 'Rough Riders' during the
Spanish-American War. Roosevelt came home from the war
a hero and was elected vice president under William
McKinley. He acceded to the presidency at age 42 when
McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. He gained
fame quickly through his activist agenda, including
'trust busting' and advocating laws aimed at breaking
up monopolies in big business. He directed his
progressive reforms at regulation, not abolition, of
New York City itself witnessed the exploits of
Republican Fiorello H. LaGuardia, who won national
attention as mayor of the metropolis from 1933 to
1945. Before he won national renown as a reform mayor,
LaGuardia flew a fighter plane for the American Army
in World War I.
Running for mayor on the Fusion Party ticket,
LaGuardia confronted the excesses of the
then-notorious Tammany Hall and won numerous municipal
reforms. Known as 'the Little Flower' (from his first
name), he came to national attention for his
successful reforms. LaGuardia also had a humorous
side. During a newspaper strike in the 1940s, he went
on the radio and read the comic strips to children who
had missed seeing what he called "the funny papers."
Noting that comic strip police detective Dick Tracy
was slim and trim, LaGuardia, during the broadcast,
asked his police commissioner why New York City
detectives were overweight.
Two 20th century Republican governors, Thomas E. Dewey
and Nelson A. Rockefeller, earned national attention
and achieved notable objectives.
Dewey, governor from 1943 to 1955, first came to
prominence as a Manhattan district attorney. He was
lauded for his aggressive and successful prosecution
of gangland bosses who had become powerful during the
Prohibition Era. His vision and leadership led to
construction of the 641-mile New York State Thruway,
one of the first major superhighways in the United
Dewey surged to national attention when he ran for
president in 1944 against incumbent Franklin
Roosevelt, also a famous New Yorker. Dewey lost, then
ran again against Harry Truman in 1948, losing again
in a close race.
Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York for four
terms - from 1959 to 1973.
His many achievements included the start of a
successful campaign to clean up New York's rivers and
lakes through improved sewage treatment and the
modernization of the State University of New York
Rockefeller sought the presidency three times in the
'60s, but his liberal philosophy did not find favor
with the GOP nationally. In the aftermath of the
resignation of President Nixon in the Watergate
scandal, President Gerald Ford chose Rockefeller to
serve as vice president.
While New York City has had Democratic mayors for most
of the late 19th and most of the 20th Century, three
men were elected in the last 40 years under Republican
aegis. John Lindsay held the office from 1966 to 1973
and won national recognition for his efforts to help
calm racial unrest in the 1960s.
Rudolph Giuliani, who was elected mayor in 1993, first
won wide attention when, as a federal prosecutor in
Manhattan, he gained convictions of underworld leaders
and business leaders who had broken the law. But it
was Giuliani's epic performance as mayor following the
2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center that
made him a household name around the world. He is
widely credited with having demonstrated courage and
leadership during one of the darkest hours in New York
Giuliani's nationwide popularity after the September
11, 2001 attacks helped propel current Mayor Michael
Bloomberg's successful effort to win office in the
Since then, Bloomberg has won praise for his efforts
to improve education, business, and tourism in New
These Republicans exerted a strong influence on the
lives and fortunes of the people of New York. Their
part in the history of the Empire State helped to make
it a successful state and a natural place for the
Republican Party, the 'Grand Old Party,' to hold its
2004 nominating convention.
John Marchi, a Republican state senator from Staten
Island since 1957, is the nation's longest serving
The comments section is provided as a free service to our readers. Gotham Gazette's editors reserve the right to delete any comments. Some reasons why comments might get deleted: inappropriate or offensive content, off-topic remarks or spam.