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Free-Soil Party

Free-Soil Party​, (1848–54), minor but influential political party in the


pre-Civil War period of American history that opposed the extension of
slavery into the western territories. Fearful of expanding slave power within
the national government, Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania in
1846 introduced into Congress his famous Wilmot Proviso, calling for the
prohibition of slavery in the vast southwestern lands that had been newly
acquired from Mexico. The Wilmot concept, which failed in Congress, was
a direct ideological antecedent to the Free-Soil Party. Disappointed by the
ambivalent position of the Whig Party toward slavery, “Conscience” Whigs
held a convention in August 1848 at Buffalo, N.Y. There they were joined
by delegates from 17 states drawn from the Liberty Party and the
antislavery faction of the New York Democrats, known as “Barnburners.”.
The Free-Soilers’ historic slogan calling for “free soil, free speech, free
labor, and free men” attracted small farmers, debtors, village merchants,
and household and mill workers, who resented the prospect of black-labour
competition—whether slave or free—in the territories.

In 1848 the Free-Soil Party nominated the former U.S. president Martin
Van Buren to head its ticket. Though the party polled only 10 percent of the
popular vote in the presidential election that year, it weakened the regular
Democratic candidate in New York and contributed to the election of the
Whig candidate General Zachary Taylor as president. The Free-Soil vote
was reduced to 5 percent in 1852, when John P. Hale was the presidential
nominee. Nevertheless, a dozen Free-Soil congressmen later held the
balance of power in the House of Representatives, thus wielding
considerable influence. In addition, the party was well represented in
several state legislatures. In 1854 the disorganized remnants of the party
were absorbed into the newly formed Republican Party, which carried the
Free-Soil idea of opposing the expansion of slavery one step further by
condemning slavery as a moral evil as well.

Who: The Free Soil Party


What: Minor but influential political party in the pre-Civil War period of
American history that opposed the extension of slavery into the western
territories.

When: 1848-1854

Why: They were against the idea of spreading of slavery into the western
part of the U.S

How: They affected the Civil War by bring up the topic of slavery and
building up the huge tension that will lead the secession of states from the
Union and fired up the beginning of the Civil War.