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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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The Nebraska Outrage and the Advent of the Republican Party, 1853–1855

The Nebraska Outrage and the Advent of the Republican Party, 1853–1855

(p.186) (p.187) Chapter Seven The Nebraska Outrage and the Advent of the Republican Party, 1853–1855
Liberty Power

Corey M. Brooks

University of Chicago Press

This chapter re-examines the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act and the founding of the Republican Party. This chapter highlights how Free Soil politicians like Salmon Chase and Charles Sumner shaped the terms of congressional and public debates over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, including through their “Appeal of the Independent Democrats,” to help make the Nebraska issue the basis for a new anti-Slave Power party that might aspire to majority status across the North. Amidst the partisan disarray of the mid-1850s, however, political abolitionists faced a formidable challenge from nativist efforts to replace the disintegrating Whig Party with a new American Party. The chapter shows that despite Know Nothings’ (as American partisans were called) initial success, political abolitionists remained confident that continued emphasis on the Slave Power would ensure the anti-Nebraska Republican Party’s ultimate triumph once national contests forced the nativist party to establish its position on slavery. Over the course of 1855, rising sectional tensions among Know Nothings seemed to confirm the predictions of political abolitionists, who anticipated the upcoming election for Speaker of the House as an opportunity to force the majority of Northerners into the Republican coalition.

Keywords:   Kansas-Nebraska Act, Republican Party, American Party, Know Nothings, Appeal of the Independent Democrats, Salmon Chase, political abolitionists, Slave Power

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