1854 : Republican Party Meets for First Time in Michigan

July 6, 2024 all-day

The historical marker “under the oaks,” where more than 1,000 people met to denounce slavery after being outraged over the passage of the Kansas-Nebraka Act, which had opened new territories to slavery.


Walk toward the northwest corner of Franklin and Second Street and you’ll start to see a flagpole with a modest stone monument at its base. Unsuspecting as it is, you’d soon be standing in front of one of the most significant spots in American political history: the site of the first official Republican Party meeting. 150 years ago, the conversations held on this now quiet street corner would set the stage for the Civil War — and the end of slavery.

Jackson’s Biggest Little Park

On July 6, 1854, over 1,000 people gathered in a Jackson hall in protest of a recent slavery expansion act. The hall’s spatial limits and poor ventilation weren’t exactly accommodating in the middle of a Michigan summer. So they moved the meeting to a park, where a group of party candidates was designated and would see sweeping victories later that year. Thus, the first Republican convention was held — and the Republican Party was born.

Sharing Political History

Now named Under the Oaks City Park, this historic hotspot has been visited by politicians for over a century. President Taft visited in 1910 to designate the site, President Eisenhower visited in 1952, and President Nixon liked it so much, he stopped by twice — once as Eisenhower’s vice president and again during his presidential campaign. Most recently, GOP nominee John McCain paid a visit as he campaigned through the Midwest. Regardless of your place on the political spectrum, you’ll be in pretty famous company.

Source : Birth of the Republican Party

Dwight Eisenhower and his wife Mamie visiting “under the oaks” in Jackson, Mich. during his 1952 presidential campaign. (Courtesy of Ella Sharp Museum)

0098300_2.JPGSen. John McCain poses with a plaque that commemorates Under the Oaks, the birthplace of the Republican Party while campaigning for president in 2007.

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