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Free Soil Party

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections as well as in some state elections. A single-issue party, its main purpose was to oppose the expansion of slavery into the Western territories, arguing that free men on free soil constituted a morally and economically superior system to slavery. It also sometimes worked to remove existing laws that discriminated against freed African Americans in states such as Ohio.[citation needed]

The party originated in New York after the state Democratic convention refused to endorse the Wilmot Proviso, a proposed law that would have banned slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico in the Mexican–American War. A faction of New York Democrats known as the Barnburners objected to slavery in the territories and opposed the 1848 Democratic nominee Lewis Cass. The Barnburners and other anti-slavery Democrats joined with some anti-slavery Whigs and the Liberty Party to form the Free Soil Party. Salmon P. Chase, John P. Hale and other party leaders organized the 1848 Free Soil Convention, which nominated a ticket consisting of former President Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams Sr. In the 1848 presidential election, Van Buren won 10.1% of the popular vote and Whig nominee Zachary Taylor defeated Cass.

The Compromise of 1850 reduced tensions regarding slavery, but some remained in the party. In the 1852 presidential election, Hale won 4.9% of the popular vote as the party's nominee. Passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854 revitalized the anti-slavery movement and the party membership (including leaders such as Hale and Chase) was largely absorbed by the Republican Party between 1854 and 1856 by way of the Anti-Nebraska movement.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Free Soil Party Explained
  • ✪ Free Soil and the Wilmot Proviso (US History) - @TomRichey
  • ✪ Free Soil Party
  • ✪ Free Soil Party
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Hey there person I'm Mr. Beat Fun fact- When you Google “How many political parties are there in the USA?” Google tells you 2. But, yet again, Google is wrong. There are at least 39 other national political parties in the United States. and people don't know this because the United States has a two-party system and the Republican and Democratic parties do dominate. These other parties are called "third parties." Many of them have wide-ranging platforms. However, several are single-issue parties, meaning they are mostly campaigning on just one issue. An example of this is the United States Marijuana Party. Members of this party are campaigning to guessed it...marijuana. But probably the most famous of all the single-issue parties was the Free Soil Party. The Free Soil Party existed from 1848 to 1854, but it had a huge impact. And their major issue was to stop the expansion of slavery. Here is their story. Oh wait. But before I dive into the Free Soil Party, I should let you know that this is a collaboration with EmperorTigerstar. He just released a video about another 19th-century third party called the Greenback Party. Go check it out when you’re done watching this video. It all started in 1848, with the New York State Democrats. Known as “Barnburners,” they walked out of the states Democratic Party convention after those dang Hunkers voted against the Wilmot Proviso, a proposed law that would have banned slavery in all territory gained by winning the Mexican American War. The “Hunkers” were for the expansion of slavery out west, so they obviously opposed the Wilmot Proviso. The Barnburners were for it, and even were against Lewis Cass, the Democratic Party nominee for President, who proposed popular sovereignty to determine how slavery expanded out west. So yeah, those Barnburners walked out, leaving the Democratic Party to knock on the door of the Conscience Whigs, or anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party. The Barnburners said, “want to start a new political party?” The Conscience Whigs were like “heck yeah dudes, but let’s get some more people.” So those two groups knocked on the door of the Liberty Party, an abolitionist political party that had existed for 8 years at that point. The Barnburners and Conscience Whigs were like “want to join us so you actually have a chance to win a Presidential election?” and most of the Liberty Party folks said “sure, why not?” So together they formed the Free Soil Party, holding their first convention on August 9, 1848 in Buffalo, New York. Their slogan? “Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men.” Hey...wait a second...what about women? Anyway, they nominated Martin Van Buren for President, the New York native and former President who had lost his re-election bid back in 1840. Noble dudes present at the convention included Salmon Chase, John Hale, and even Walt Whitman. The Free Soil Party was a pragmatic party. They weren’t necessarily calling for the end of all slavery, although that would be nice. They realized much of the South depended on slave labor. However, they all agreed there were enough slave states. No more! Oh, and several of them opposed slavery not for moral reasons, but because they didn’t want white laborers to have to compete with slaves out west. When some called for giving blacks the right to vote as part of the Free Soil Party’s platform, it actually got shot down. They had issues other than slavery. For example, they wanted more government money for infrastructure, a homestead law, and a way to pay off the debt and a new tariff to pay for it. Tariffs. Ew. So back to their Presidential candidate, Martin Van Buren, going for re-election again in the election of 1848, which you can find more about here. Go watch it and come back. Everyone else here will wait for you. Don't worry. Ok, thanks for doing that. Now, as you saw in that video, Van Buren lost the election of 1848, getting 10.1% of the popular vote and no electoral votes. But hey, guess what? The Free Soil Party was able to get 12 members elected to Congress that same election, as well as several more members getting elected to state government positions. Most importantly, the party had made slavery a central issue in American politics and raised awareness of the anti-slavery cause. So the Free Soil Party kept building. However, their momentum came to a quick halt in 1850, thanks to the Compromise of 1850 (singing), which the Free Soil Party officially did not approve of, as it vowed to never compromise on the issue of slavery. I also made a horrible video about the Compromise of 1850, but basically you need to know at this very moment that it was a huge way to at least temporarily calm both the North and South down about the slavery issue. Because it did calm both sides down, the Free Soil Party lost a lot of members. Most Barnburners went back to the Democratic party and most Conscience Whigs went back to the Whig Party. So the moderates left the party, leaving only the hardliner and passionate abolitionists. By 1852, they had lost significant membership. That year, they nominated John Hale in the presidential election, but he got less than 5% of the popular vote. Two years later, after the controversial and just plain horrible Kansas-Nebraska Act passed, the remaining Free Soil Party members ended up helping to create a new political party called the Republican Party. Hey that party sounds familiar. So the Free Soil Party went away almost as quickly as it sprung up. It was only around for 6 years, the same amount of time as one term in the Senate. Without the Free Soil Party, the abolition of slavery wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did in the United States, and the Republican Party probably wouldn’t exist. Well that’s the end of the video. But you should watch YouTube for the next 72 hours straight. At least. Start off that 72 hours by watching EmperorTigerstar’s video about the Greenback Party. He released that video at the same time as this one. Let’s start a political party video watching party. There are a lot of them out there on YouTube. And if you don't know who EmperorTigerstar is, for crying out loud, what is wrong with you? I mean, it's 2018. Wake up man. Alright? Subscribe to his channel. Thanks for watching.



1848 cartoon for Van Buren
1848 cartoon for Van Buren

In 1848, the New York State Democratic convention did not endorse the Wilmot Proviso, an act that would have banned slavery in any territory conquered by the United States in the Mexican War. Almost half the members, known as "Barnburners", walked out after denouncing the national platform. Lewis Cass, the Democratic Party's 1848 presidential nominee, supported popular sovereignty (local control) for determining the status of slavery in the United States territories. This stance repulsed the New York State Democrats and encouraged them to join with anti-slavery Conscience Whigs and the majority of the Liberty Party to form the Free Soil Party,[6] which was formalized in the summer of 1848 at conventions in Utica and Buffalo. The Free Soilers nominated former Democratic President Martin Van Buren for President, along with Charles Francis Adams for Vice President, at Lafayette Square in Buffalo, then known as Court House Park.[7] The main party leaders were Salmon P. Chase of Ohio and John P. Hale of New Hampshire. The Free Soil candidates won 10% of the popular vote in 1848, but no electoral votes, in part because the nomination of Van Buren discouraged many anti-slavery Whigs from supporting them.

The party distanced itself from abolitionism and avoided the moral problems implicit in slavery. Members emphasized instead the threat slavery would pose to free white labor and Northern businessmen in the new Western territories. Although abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison derided the party philosophy as "white manism",[8] the approach appealed to many moderate opponents of slavery. The 1848 platform pledged to promote limited internal improvements, work for a homestead law, work towards paying off the public debt and introduce a moderate tariff for revenue only.

The Compromise of 1850 temporarily neutralized the issue of slavery and undercut the party's no-compromise position. Most Barnburners returned to the Democratic Party while most of the Conscience Whigs returned to the Whig Party. This resulted in the Free Soil Party becoming dominated by ardent anti-slavery leaders.

The party ran John P. Hale in the 1852 presidential election, but its share of the popular vote shrank to less than 5%. However, two years later—after enormous outrage over the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854—the remains of the Free Soil Party helped form the Republican Party.[9]


The Free Soil Party sent two Senators and fourteen Representatives to the thirty-first Congress, which convened from March 4, 1849, to March 3, 1851. Since there were party members on the floor of Congress, they could carry far more weight in the government and in the debates that took place. The Free Soil Party presidential nominee in 1848, Martin Van Buren, received 291,616 votes against Zachary Taylor of the Whigs and Lewis Cass of the Democrats, but Van Buren received no electoral votes. The party's "spoiler effect" in 1848 may have helped Taylor into office in a narrowly contested election.

However, the strength of the party was its representation in Congress as the sixteen elected officials had influence far beyond their numerical strength.[citation needed] The party's most important legacy was as a route for anti-slavery Democrats to join the new Republican coalition.

In August 1854, an alliance was brokered at Ottawa, Illinois, between the Free Soil Party and the Whigs (in part based on the efforts of local newspaper publisher Jonathan F. Linton) that gave rise to the new Republican Party which had been founded in March of that year.[10]

Free Soil Township, Michigan, was named after the Free Soil party in 1848.[11]

Recent revival

In 2014, the party's name was used for the American Free Soil Party with a focus on justice for immigrants, as well as combating discrimination.[12] On February 15, 2019, the American Free Soil Party won ballot access for its first candidate to run under its banner in a partisan race when Dr. James W. Clifton filed to run for town council in Millersburg, Indiana.[13] The following day, the party held its national convention and nominated its 2020 presidential ticket, former Southwick Commissioner Adam Seaman of Massachusetts and Dr. Enrique Ramos of Puerto Rico for President and Vice President, respectively.[14]


In this 1850 political cartoon, the artist attacks abolitionist, Free Soil and other sectionalist interests of 1850 as dangers to the Union
In this 1850 political cartoon, the artist attacks abolitionist, Free Soil and other sectionalist interests of 1850 as dangers to the Union

Free Soil candidates ran on a platform that declared: "[W]e inscribe on our banner, 'Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men,' and under it we will fight on, and fight forever, until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions".[15] The party also called for a tariff for revenue only (i.e. import taxes sufficient to meet federal government expenses without creating protectionist trade barriers) and for a homestead act. The Free Soil Party's main support came from areas of Ohio, upstate New York and western Massachusetts, although other northern states also had representatives. The party contended that slavery undermined the dignity of labor and inhibited social mobility and was therefore fundamentally undemocratic. Viewing slavery as an economically inefficient, obsolete institution, Free Soilers believed that slavery should be contained and that if contained it would ultimately disappear.[citation needed]

Noted Free Soilers

Electoral history

Presidential elections

Election Candidate Running mate Votes Vote % Electoral votes +/- Outcome of election
1848 Martin Van Buren Charles F. Adams 291,501 10.1
0 / 290
New party Lost
1852 John P. Hale George W. Julian 155,210 4.9
0 / 296
Steady 0 Lost

Congressional election

  • ^ a: Free Soilers ran under "Anti-Nebraska" label.
  • ^ b: Office left vacant when Fillmore assumed the presidency on July 9, 1850.
  • ^ c: Office left vacant after King's death on April 18, 1853.

See also


  1. ^ The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (July 20, 1998). "Free-Soil Party". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  2. ^ AMR Editors. "Anti-slavery "Free Soil Party" showed strength during hard times". African American Registry. Retrieved August 3, 2017.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Formation of the Republican Party of Michigan. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University. 1965. p. 5.
  4. ^ Foner, Eric (April 20, 1995). Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195094978.
  5. ^ Ohio History Central. "Free Soil Party". Ohio History Connection. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  6. ^ "Free-Soil Party | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History". Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "Old Court House". History of Buffalo. Chuck LaChiusa. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  8. ^ Alcott, L.M.; Elbert, S. (1997). Louisa May Alcott on Race, Sex, and Slavery. Northeastern University Press. ISBN 9781555533076.
  9. ^ Mayfield, John. Rehearsal for Republicanism: Free Soil and the Politics of Anti-Slavery. Port Washington. NY. Kennikat. 1980.
  10. ^ Taylor, William Alexander (1909). "Centennial history of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio; Vol. 2". S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. pp. 161–162. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009.
  11. ^ Boughner, Eliane Durnin (June 25, 1981). "Free Soil Gets History Write-up". Ludington Daily News. Ludington, MI. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ Seaman, Adam (24 November 2018). "Former Prohibition Party Member Reforms American Free Soil Party". American Third Party Report.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ The National Conventions and Platforms of All Political Parties 1789-1905 by Thomas Hudson McKee ISBN 0-403-00356-3 p. 52.
  16. ^ a b c The Past and Present of Kane County, Illinois. Chicago, IL: William Le Baron, Jr. & Co. 1878. p. 258.
  17. ^ Harris, Norman Dwight (1904). The History of Negro Servitude in Illinois. pp. 173–174. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  18. ^ The Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin for 1879. Waukesha Democrat. December 5, 1848. Watertown Chronicle. December 5, 1849.

Further reading

  • Blue, Frederick J. (1987). Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics.
  • Blue, Frederick J. (1973) The Free Soilers: Third Party Politics, 1848–54.
  • Brooks, Corey M. (2016). Liberty Power: Antislavery Third Parties and the Transformation of American Politics. University of Chicago Press. 302 pp.
  • Duberman, Martin (1968). Charles Francis Adams, 1807–1886.
  • Earle, Jonathan Halperin (2004). Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824–1854.
  • Foner, Eric (1995) [1970]. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509497-2.
  • Smith, T. C. Smith (1987). Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the Northwest. New York.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 June 2019, at 23:46
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