Free-Soil party


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Related to Free-Soil party: Henry Clay, Know-Nothing Party, Republican Party, Whig Party, Kansas-Nebraska Act

Free-Soil party,

in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico. The struggle in Congress over the Wilmot ProvisoWilmot Proviso,
1846, amendment to a bill put before the U.S. House of Representatives during the Mexican War; it provided an appropriation of $2 million to enable President Polk to negotiate a territorial settlement with Mexico.
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 helped to consolidate the Free-Soil forces, which comprised those New York Democrats known as BarnburnersBarnburners,
radical element of the Democratic party in New York state from 1842 to 1848, opposed to the conservative Hunkers. The name derives from the fabled Dutchman who burned his barn to rid it of rats; by implication, the Barnburners would destroy corporations and public
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, the antislavery Whigs, and members of the former Liberty partyLiberty party,
in U.S. history, an antislavery political organization founded in 1840. It was formed by those abolitionists, under the leadership of James G. Birney and Gerrit Smith, who repudiated William Lloyd Garrison's nonpolitical stand.
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. These forces met in mass convention at Buffalo in Aug., 1848, where the party was formally organized and Martin Van Buren and Charles F. Adams (1807–86) were chosen as its candidates for president and vice president. The platform also declared for a homestead law, internal improvements, and a tariff for revenue only. The party polled nearly 300,000 votes and, by giving New York state to the Whigs, was a decisive factor in making Zachary Taylor president. The party elected one senator, Salmon P. ChaseChase, Salmon Portland,
1808–73, American public official and jurist, 6th chief justice of the United States (1864–73), b. Cornish, N.H. Admitted to the bar in 1829, he defended runaway blacks so often that he became known as "attorney general for fugitive slaves.
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 of Ohio, and 13 congressmen. The Compromise of 1850Compromise of 1850.
The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War (1848) aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the
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 supposedly settled the slavery issue, and the Barnburner element went back to its old allegiance. A few radical antislavery men kept the organization in existence and nominated John P. Hale for president in 1852; he received more than 150,000 votes. In 1854 the party was absorbed into the new Republican party.

Bibliography

See T. C. Smith, The Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the Northwest (1897, repr. 1969); E. Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men (1970); J. G. Rayback, Free Soil: The Election of 1848 (1970); F. J. Blue, The Free Soilers (1973).