From Michael Zak, speaker on the history of the Republican Party:
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. At town meetings and demonstrations, anti-slavery activists voiced their opposition to the "Slave-ocrats" and organized the Republican Party.
On this day in 1854, the Republican Party held in Jackson, Michigan its first-ever state convention. 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, Kinsley Bingham, was elected our nation's first Republican 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.