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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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Free Soil Politics and the Twilight of the Second Party System, 1849–1853

Free Soil Politics and the Twilight of the Second Party System, 1849–1853

(p.161) Chapter Six Free Soil Politics and the Twilight of the Second Party System, 1849–1853
Liberty Power

Corey M. Brooks

University of Chicago Press

This chapter highlights the role Free Soil Party politicians like Salmon Chase and John P. Hale played in heated debates over the Compromise of 1850 and then Free Soilers’ efforts to rouse opposition to new legislation. Targeting the Fugitive Slave Act especially, political abolitionists in the Free Soil Party worked to ensure continued attention to the Slave Power’s control over both major parties. Simultaneously, in several northern states, Free Soil managers experimented with coalition politics, often collaborating with Democrats at the state level but with mixed results. While these coalitions typically ended in disillusionment, Massachusetts Free Soilers succeeded in electing Charles Sumner to the United States Senate, where he would become perhaps the most noted antislavery firebrand in national politics. The immediate results of the presidential election of 1852 proved deeply disappointing, seemingly signalling national consensus on the recent sectional compromise, but Free Soilers remained confident that as old issues differentiating the major parties receded into the background, impending new slavery controversies would force the partisan reorganization political abolitionists had long sought.

Keywords:   Free Soil Party, Fugitive Slave Act, Compromise of 1850, Slave Power, coalition politics, election of 1852, Salmon Chase, Charles Sumner, John P. Hale

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