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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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“Bowing Down to the Slave Power”: Northern Whigs, Slavery, and the Speakership, 1839

“Bowing Down to the Slave Power”: Northern Whigs, Slavery, and the Speakership, 1839

(p.43) Interlude One “Bowing Down to the Slave Power”: Northern Whigs, Slavery, and the Speakership, 1839
Liberty Power

Corey M. Brooks

University of Chicago Press

This section narrates the controversial 1839 election for Speaker of the House. The demands of an ultra-proslavery States’ Rights faction deadlocked the House, but the stalemate was broken when the entire Whig Party, including professed antislavery men, supported proslavery candidate Robert M.T. Hunter. Political abolitionists, like Joshua Leavitt, highlighted this disappointing conclusion to the much anticipated speakership election as evidence of all Whigs’ complicity with the Slave Power. Political abolitionists, however, also appreciated the evidence this contest provided that a small, committed ideological bloc could wield a balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Keywords:   1839 election for Speaker of the House, Speaker of the House, political abolitionists, Robert M.T. Hunter, Joshua Leavitt, Slave Power

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