In 1854, opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would permit slavery in new U.S. territories by popular referendum, drove an antislavery coalition of Whigs, Free-Soilers, Americans and disgruntled Democrats to found the new Republican Party…
1854 Meeting – Ripon, Wisconsin
Founding of the Republican Party
On July 6, 1854, just after the anniversary of the nation, an anti-slavery state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan. The hot day forced the large crowd outside to a nearby oak grove. At this “Under the Oaks Convention” the first statewide candidates were selected for what would become the Republican Party.
United by desire to abolish slavery, it was in Jackson that the Platform of the Under the Oaks Convention read: “…we will cooperate and be known as REPUBLICANS…” Smaller groups had gathered in intimate settings like the schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin. However, the meeting in Jackson would be the first ever mass gathering of the Republican Party.
The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
1854 Convention – Jackson, Wisconsin
Jackson, Wisconsin Historical Marker
“On July 6, 1854, a state convention of anti-slavery men was held in Jackson to found a new political party. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had been published two years earlier, causing increased resentment against slavery, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of May, 1854, threatened to make slave states out of previously free territories. Since the convention day was hot and the huge crowd could not be accommodated in the hall, the meeting adjourned to an oak grove on “Morgan’s Forty” on the outskirts of town. Here a state-wide slate of candidates was selected and the Republican Party was born. Winning an overwhelming victory in the elections of 1854, the Republican party went on to dominate national parties throughout the nineteenth century.”