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Celebrating the GOP's first state convention

Grand Old Partisan, July 6, 2007 by Michael Zak

JACKSON, MICHIGAN - In 1854, the Democrats in control of Congress were moving toward passage of their Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing slavery to expand into the western territories. The Democrat President at the time, Franklin Pierce, said he would sign the bill into law. The Democratic Party had chosen to promote slavery.

Amid the intense reaction, a grassroots movement sprang up to oppose the extension of slavery. These town meetings and demonstrations coalesced into the Republican Party.

On July 6, 1854, the Republican Party held its first state convention. It took place in Jackson, Michigan. So many people attended - over 10,000 - that the meeting had to be held outdoors, Under the Oaks.

Just four months later, one of the founders of the Michigan Republican Party, anti-slavery activist Kinsley Bingham, was elected our nation's first Republican state governor. And, another of the original Michigan Republicans, Zachariah Chandler, became one of the first Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Senator Chandler, a former mayor of Detroit and a leader of the Underground Railroad, went on to serve as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

See Grand Old Partisan for more useful information about the heritage of the Grand Old Party. Each day, the Grand Old Partisan blog celebrates 153 years of Republican heroes and heroics.

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