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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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“Glorious Confusion in the Ranks”: The Free Soil Balance of Power, 1849

“Glorious Confusion in the Ranks”: The Free Soil Balance of Power, 1849

Chapter:
(p.154) (p.155) Interlude Four “Glorious Confusion in the Ranks”: The Free Soil Balance of Power, 1849
Source:
Liberty Power
Author(s):

Corey M. Brooks

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226307312.003.0010

This vignette describes the disruptive role the Free Soil Party played by controlling a balance of power in the closely divided 31st House of Representatives. In their refusal to vote for a Democratic or Whig candidate in the 1849 election for Speaker of the House, Free Soilers showcased the influence their new independent antislavery congressional bloc might wield and further mobilized congressional controversy to call attention to the Slave Power’s sway over both major parties. Ultimately, however, a majority of representatives agreed to circumvent traditional majoritarian rules and abide by a plurality vote, thereby enabling the election of slaveholding Democrat Howell Cobb over the incumbent Whig speaker Robert Winthrop.

Keywords:   Free Soil Party, Free Soilers, 1849 election for Speaker of the House, Speaker of the House, Slave Power, Howell Cobb, Robert Winthrop

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