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The Mississippi Republican Party

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The Mississippi Republican Party Collection contains correspondence, financial records, bylaws, manuals, convention materials, campaign materials, election materials, general office files, patronage files, press releases, clippings, publications, legislative materials, audiovisual material, photographs, and other materials reflecting the activities of the Mississippi Republican Party. It is arranged in 21 series, with materials spanning the years 1928-1999, with additions of material from the year 2000, which has a preliminary inventory.

Status: Open

Collection Strengths:

  • Campaigns
  • Elections
  • Conventions
  • Party platforms
  • Mississippi politics
  • United States politics

Collection Links:

About the Mississippi Republican Party

The Mississippi Republican Party is based in Jackson, Mississippi. Although the original Republican Party of Mississippi was founded following the Civil War, it lost political power at the end of Reconstruction when white Democrats in Mississippi took both legal and illegal measures to remove the white Republican governor Adelbert Ames and the black Republican lieutenant governor Alexander K. Davis from office. The party then fell into smaller factions divided largely among racial lines until a group of young Republicans called the Young Republicans of Mississippi were able to wrest control away from the smaller factions and unite the party into its modern apparatus.

The party’s modern incarnation was founded by Wirt A. Yerger, Jr. in 1956. Yerger served as the first State Chairman from 1956 until 1966. He was chairman of the Mississippi Delegation to the Republican National Convention in 1956, 1960 and 1964. He was elected to a four-year term as chairman of the Southern Association of Republican State Chairman in 1960. The Mississippi Republican Party’s support grew with the popularity of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and on September 24, 1960, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon campaigned in the state, the first time a presidential candidate had appeared in Mississippi in more than a century. During the 1964 Republican National Convention, Mississippi delegates helped nominate Barry Goldwater for President. Goldwater went on to win 87 percent of the vote in Mississippi in the election. In 1988, Republican Congressman Trent Lott defeated Democratic Congressman Wayne Dowdy to replace retiring Democratic Senator John Stennis.

In 1963, Rubel Phillips became the first Republican nominee for governor in 80 years, challenging the then Lieutenant Governor, Democrat Paul Johnson, Jr., and garnering 38 percent of the vote. Phillips ran in 1967 against John Bell Williams but lost again, this time earning 29 percent of the vote. In 1991, for the first time in over a century a Republican became Governor of Mississippi, when Kirk Fordice received 50.8 percent of the popular vote, defeating Democrat Ray Mabus. By the end of the twentieth century, the Republicans were and remain the dominant political party in the state.