We say happy birthday to the Grand Old Party, the GOP, or, the Republican Party: It was formed in Ripon, Wisconsin, on this day in 1854.
The new party was formed by former members of the Whig Party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories.
In my case, I became a de facto Republican after the Kennedy administration fumbled The Bay of Pigs invasion. For many of us Cuban-Americans, the invasion was personal. I mean that some of us had relatives in the ill-fated Brigade 2506, or else they themselves had been arrested while on the island. After the Bay of Pigs, the Castro regime came down very hard on dissent. My father’s cousin, a young doctor, was arrested and spent 14 years in a political prison without a trial. He was eventually released when the president of France negotiated the release of some men from prison. Three Catholic schools were closed around that time, and I can still remember my father picking us up and driving home. So I guess we became anti-JFK Republicans!