Due to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the new territory to enter the Union as pro-slavery, Northerners decided something needed to happen. July 6, 1854 a meeting was held in Jackson that included Whigs, Democrats, and Free Soilers. There was no location in Jackson that could hold that many people in one time, over 1,500 to be exact, so the group met outside at an oak grove. A decision was made to repeal the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Law as well as nominated a slate of candidates. The group nationally called themselves “Republicans” and argued that they were “battling for the first principles of republican government, and against the schemes of aristocracy, the most revolting and oppressive with which the earth was ever cursed, or man debased” (Rosentreter, 129).
By November, the Republicans took office and started enforcing new changes. One change included the Personal Freedom Act which gave some rights to blacks as well as did not return escaped slaves. Austin Blair, a Jackson man, would receive the Republican party nomination as governor and would win the position in 1861 and serve during the Civil War. Today there stands a memorial in the same location of the first meeting. The Oak trees still stand around the memorial and some local high schools use the saying “Under the Oaks” to represent political groups to discuss current policies.
By Elaine Brewster