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Liberty PowerAntislavery Third Parties and the Transformation of American Politics$
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Corey M. Brooks

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226307282

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226307312.001.0001

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Political Abolition and the Slave Power Argument, 1835–1840

Political Abolition and the Slave Power Argument, 1835–1840

(p.14) (p.15) Chapter One Political Abolition and the Slave Power Argument, 1835–1840
Liberty Power

Corey M. Brooks

University of Chicago Press

This chapter demonstrates how abolitionist arguments about Southerners’ disproportionate political power developed into a sophisticated analyses condemning the Whig and Democratic Parties as the Slave Power’s key auxiliaries. Abolitionists developed and increasingly emphasized these arguments especially in response to proslavery infringements on civil liberties, like the House gag rule on antislavery petitions and southern postal censorship. The chapter then shows how the Slave Power argument helped impel political abolitionists to organized political action, from the petition controversy to candidate interrogation and ultimately toward third-party politics. The election of 1840 particularly sharpened the abolitionist critique of the Second Party System and inspired the founding of the abolitionist Liberty Party.

Keywords:   Slave Power, Liberty Party, abolitionists, abolitionist movement, political abolitionists, election of 1840, gag rule, petition controversy

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