You cannot have a conversation about Jackson and its’ history can not be mentioned without the story of “Under the Oaks” being mentioned. In the mid 19th century “. . . increased resentment against slavery, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of May, 1854, threatened to make slave states out of previously free territories” (Jackson). So, on July 6, 1854 a convention of anti-slavery advocates, including whigs and southern Democrats met in Jackson. Due to the extreme heat and discomfort coupled with the large crowd that showed up, the convention was forced “Under the Oaks”, the location is now marked with a historical marker at what is now the corner of Second and Franklin Street.
What resulted at this convention was the birth of the Republican Party. The Republican Party would win by an overwhelming majority in its’ first elections of 1854 and dominated for much of the century. Immediately upon taking office the Republican Party began making an impact across the state and nation. Michigan’s first Republican Governor, Austin Blair who was a Jackson man, would the governorship in 1861 and serve during the Civil War earning the moniker “The Civil War Governor”. Today, Austin Blair is remembered and commemorated with a statue of his liking outside the Michigan State Capital. The Republican Party is also the party of arguably the greatest president in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln. All of this started in Jackson under those big oak trees.