Birthplace of the Republican Party

Join the list of presidents and dignitaries who have visited this piece of American history.

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.

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