Anti-slavery Activists Held First State Convention - July 6
- 2013 6 Jul
A decade prior to the Civil War there were two major political parties in the United States: Democrats, favoring freedom of choice to own slaves; and Whigs, wanting a big tent party. In Ripon, Wisconsin, anti-slavery activists met on February 28, 1854, then held their first State Convention in Jackson, Michigan, JULY 6, 1854. They named their party Republican, with the chief plank being "to prohibit...those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery." Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, appointed Justice Stephen Field, who wrote in the Supreme Court decision Davis v. Beason, 1890: "Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries...They...destroy the purity of the marriage relation...degrade woman and debase man...There have been sects which denied...there should be any marriage tie, and advocated promiscuous intercourse of the sexes as prompted by the passions of its members...Should a sect of either of these kinds ever find its way into this country, swift punishment would follow...The constitutions of several States, in providing for religious freedom, have declared expressly that such freedom shall not be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness."