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Barnburners and Hunkers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Barnburners and Hunkers were the names of two opposing factions of the New York state Democratic Party in the mid-19th century. The main issue dividing the two factions was that of slavery, with the Barnburners being the anti-slavery faction. While this division occurred within the context of New York politics, it reflected the national divisions in the United States in the years preceding the American Civil War.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Free Soil Party Explained

Transcription

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 legalize...you 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.

Contents

Barnburners

1848 cartoon satirizing the Barnburners / Free Soil Party, referencing the Wilmot Proviso
1848 cartoon satirizing the Barnburners / Free Soil Party, referencing the Wilmot Proviso

The Barnburners were the radical faction. The term barnburner was derived from the idea of someone who would burn down his own barn to get rid of a rat infestation. In this case it was applied to men who were thought to be willing to destroy all banks and corporations, in order to root out their abuses.[1]

The Barnburners opposed expanding the public debt, and were opposed to the power of large state-established corporations. (The Barnburners were not opposed to large business enterprises due to their size as such, but only to those established or subsidized by government. They also generally came to oppose the extension of slavery.) They also stood for local control[vague] by the Albany Regency, as against the Polk political machine which the new administration was trying to build up in New York.[vague] Among the prominent Barnburners were Martin Van Buren, Silas Wright and John A. Dix.

At the 1848 presidential election, the Barnburners left the Democratic Party, refusing to support presidential nominee Lewis Cass. They joined with other anti-slavery groups, predominantly the abolitionist Liberty Party and some anti-slavery Conscience Whigs from New England and the Midwest, to form the Free Soil Party. This group nominated former President Van Buren to run again for the presidency. Their vote divided Democratic strength. Zachary Taylor, the Whig nominee, was elected to office.[citation needed]

After the Compromise of 1850 temporarily neutralized the issue of slavery and undercut the party's no-compromise position, most Barnburners who had joined the Free Soil Party returned to the Democrats. In 1854, some Barnburners helped to form the Republican Party.

Hunkers

"The Modern Gilpins" - rivalry between the Hunkers and anti-slavery Democrats
"The Modern Gilpins" - rivalry between the Hunkers and anti-slavery Democrats

The Hunkers were the conservative faction. They opposed the Barnburners, and favored state banks, internal improvements, and minimizing the slavery issue. (The term hunker has obscure origins, but probably came from the Dutch word honk, meaning "post," "station," or "home." It was basically a synonym for "stick in the mud," and became a contemptuous nickname, like "mossback," for the unprogressive members of a party, which detested change.) Among the leaders of the Hunkers were Horatio Seymour, William L. Marcy, Samuel Beardsley, Edwin Croswell, and Daniel S. Dickinson.

Following the 1848 election, the Hunkers themselves split over the question of reconciliation with the Barnburners, with the Softs, led by Marcy, favoring reconciliation, and the Hards, led by Dickinson, opposing it. This split would be exacerbated following the 1852 presidential election, when disputes over patronage led to an even broader split between Hards and Softs, and helped lead to the defeat of the Soft governor, Horatio Seymour, for re-election in 1854.

Notes

  1. ^ OED, citing the NYTribune of 1848.

References

  • Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Barnburners" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Barnburners" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Hunkers" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Hunkers" . Encyclopedia Americana.
This page was last edited on 25 July 2019, at 18:36
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