(Oxford English Dictionary)
Grand old party
1. The Democratic party. Obs.
Used without capitals and perhaps not specific.
1879 Congress. Record 11 June 1913/1 We are for national politics now. We come back to the grand old party of the North. 1888 Ibid. 10 May 3981/1, I am glad that I am a member of that grand old party that assures a better trade to our people, larger wages &c.
2. The Republican party. Now usu. in abbreviated form G.O.P.
1876 Cincinnati Comm. in Harper's Weekly (1884) 576/3 Grand Old Party. 1884 N.Y. Tribune 15 Oct. 4/5 'The G.O.P. doomed,' shouted the Boston Post... The Grand Old Party is in condition to inquire [etc.]. 1888 Congress. Record 1 May 3598/1 Old Farmer: Is this Democratic doings or Republican doings? Collector: O, it is the doings of the G.O.P.,the grand old party,the Republican party.
(Making of America-Michigan database)
1860, A POLITICAL TEXT-BOOK FOR 1860 by Horace Greeley, pg. 46, col.
2 --" Grand old party" is the Democratic one.
4 July 1862, DEMOCRATIC STATE CONVENTION OF OHIO--"Grand old party" is the
August 1868, GALAXY, pg. 215 -- "Grand old party" is ?
June 1876, NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, MISSOURI -- "The Democratic
party -- that grand old party..."
June 1881, HARPER'S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, pg. 147, col. 2 -- "Grand old party"
is the Democratic one.
March 1884, CENTURY, pg. 671, col. 1 -- Both parties claim label.
March 1884, CENTURY, pg. 711, col. 2 -- "Grand old party" is the Democratic one.
22 July 1852, Pittsfield (MA) Sun, pg. 2:
Every where the grand old Jackson party is coming together in admirable style on the noble Baltimore platform, and to sustain the excellent nominees.
26 September 1871, New York Times, pg. 1:
It is an hour, not for misgivings and despondency, but rather for good hope and great rejoicing, that at last the opportunity offers th redemption of the grand old party from the shame and degradation into which it has been steeped by the corrupt practices of some of its leaders in this City.
21 January 1875, Washington Evening Star, pg. 4, col. 2:
How, let every one go to work and save the grand old party from destruction.
19 March 1878, Farmers' Cabinet, "The Election - a Sweeping Republican Victory," pg. 2:
The Democracy had all the advantages of the situation. They were unitied; they had the inspiration of success elsewhere, and of the general belief of their party that theyare coming into National power. On the other hand the Republicans were not united. Some men who have been active as leaders in years past, have quietly laid back in the harness and waited to see the grand old party which for twenty years has borne aloft the banner of liberty, loyalty and progress in New Hampshire defeated, for the slight satisfaction it would afford them after the field was lost to upbraid their old associates and say "I told you so."
11 April 1878, Washington Post, pg. 1:
It is as plain as day that the party managers intend to keep down dissensions within the ranks if possible, and if they cannot have harmony at least maintain an appearance of it that will deceive the masses into beliving the "grand old party" is once more united.
20 April 1878, Harper's Weekly, pg. 306, col. 2:
The Republican platform must be something else than a vague impression that
Republicanism is better than Democracy. It must be something else, also, than a
summons to stand by the grand old party.
2 June 1880, Washington Evening Star, pg. 5, col. 6:
"When the nominations are made and the convention had completed its work, let
there be but one sentiment animating all earnest, sincere and unselfish republicans, and let that be that each shall vie with the other in carrying our grand old party through the coming contest to victory."
15 December 1881, Los Angeles Times, pg. 2:
After a series of Democratic reverses, beginning at San Francisco and ending at Virginia, cultured Boston has gone back on the grand old party of Thomas Jefferson and elected a full Republican ticket.
24 May 1882, Washington Evening Star, pg. 1, col. 6:
"Gentlemen, I am here to resolve with you that we will put out our grand old party where the immortal Lincoln found it and the immortal Garfield left it."
28 August 1882, Washington Evening Star, pg. 1, col. 5:
In a communicating room are several barrels, which may or may not hold the voluntary offerings for the salvation of the "grand old party."
25 October 1882, Washington Post, pg. 2:
A Gloomy Picture of "the Grand Old Party" and Its Prospect.
The Republican party has met with a Waterloo in Ohio.
20 May 1883, New York Dispatch, pg. 4, col. 4:
The "grand old Democratic party" doesn't die on slight occasion.