Fusion Party is a name for multiple political parties in United States history. The different parties that used the name don't share any particular political positions; instead, confederations of people from disparate political backgrounds united around a common cause individual to their situation—often opposition to a common enemy—and used the name Fusion Party to reflect the aggregate nature of their new party.
The Fusion Party was the original name of the Republican Party in the state of Ohio. In 1854, anti-slavery parties were forming in many northern states in opposition to the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854. While many of these state parties adopted the name "Republican", the Ohio convention adopted the name "Fusionist" or "Fusion Party", which they felt more accurately described the fusion of persons from a variety of political backgrounds, including members of the Free Soil Party, the Conscience Whig Party, and the Know-Nothing Party along with members of the Democratic Party who were opposed to slavery.
Similarly, in Indiana, the Know-Nothings were not strong enough to run candidates on their own, and so combined with Republicans and other interest groups to run candidates on the Fusion or People's Party tickets in opposition to the Anti-Nebraska movement.
In South Dakota, the Fusion Party was a short-lived political party that existed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The party was formed in 1896 from an alliance of Democrats, Free Silver Republicans, and Populists who were opposed to the platform of the state Republican Party. A total of 56 Fusion Party representatives were elected to the state legislature during its brief existence. In addition, Senator Richard F. Pettigrew, who served from 1889–1901, was the Fusion Party candidate for Senate in 1900, having left the Republican Party to join the Silver Republicans in 1896. South Dakota Governor Andrew E. Lee was also an elected to his second term as a Fusionist.
In the very early 20th century, a coalition of Nevada Democrats and Silverites called themselves the Fusion Party upon the insistence of Francis G. Newlands, who wanted to emphasize the need for fusion between the two groups if he wanted to hope for victory in the 1902 election. Fusion clubs were established in a number of counties throughout Nevada, and, despite a few temporary setbacks, a successful fusion of the two parties in the state did occur, and Newlands was elected Senator.
North Carolina’s Fusion Party was a coalition of Black Republican and Populist Party members who cooperated in state elections and in state government between 1894 and 1900. While the involved Republicans and Populists maintained separate organizations and did not affiliate their united actions with a separate, third party, the group’s cooperation was labeled "fusion" or "fusionist" by its Democratic opponents. In the middle and late 1890s Republican-Populist cooperation resulted in new state delegations to Congress, Republican-Populist control of the state's General Assembly, Republicans and Populists in state executive offices, and a non-Democratic state supreme court. A significant number of fusionist officeholders were African American.
However, the party declined sharply after Democrats regained control of the state legislature in 1898 in a violent coup and the following year passed a law which disenfranchised blacks and poor whites.
In Indiana as elsewhere there was a movement for a Fusion or People's party. The Know Nothings, perhaps the strongest of all the elements of the opposition but not strong enough to run a ticket of their own, determined to act with the Fusionists, to control the whole movement and to direct it in their own interests