POLITICS OF THE FREE SOIL PARTY Name Despite the dominance of two parties in the politics of the United States, there have been other parties in the country’s politics that break away from the mainstream Democratic and Republican Parties…
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Thus, the parties are in a position of changing the voting patterns in the country since they express the sentiments shared by a particular proportion of the country’s population. On the other hand, most of these third parties do not last for a long period of time since their agenda might be adopted or fail to stand the test of time. One such short-lived party is the Free Soil Party active in the 1848 and 1952 presidential elections of the United States.1 William Leggett, George Henry Evans, and Thomas Morris, part of the group known as “Dissident Democrats,” were instrumental in the party’s formation by contributing certain arguments crucial in shaping the party’s ideologies. This expose elucidates the role each man played in the formation of the party and effectively identifies the man who greatly influenced the formation of the party and the role he played. Since the formation of the Free Soil Party is synonymous with the Dissident Democrats, it is important to understand the origin of this group. Andrew Jackson is one of the greatest presidents in the history of this country. During his era, commonly referred as the Jacksonian era, Americans felt that there were equal economic opportunities to all citizens. However, prior to his 1837 farewell speech, the president expressed his dissatisfaction with the Bank of the United States saying that it was mainly for the rich people in the country and foreign governments instead of focusing on every citizen of the country.2 Towards the end of his career, support for the outgoing president was high and consequently too was support for his handpicked successor illustrating a scenario that Democrats were one united front. However, discontent simmered across a section of Democrats with some questions some policies by Jackson. Nevertheless, the most surprising disquiet was the loud objection of a few Democrats on the party’s position towards slavery.3 The discontent arose from the parties policies meant to curtail debate on abolitionism effectively robbing the crusaders of antislavery and its expansion of the most fundamental freedom of expression. While a section of the Democratic leadership lauded the mobs attacking abolitionists in their meetings and in newspapers, general disquiet simmered and effectively solidified support to counter the expansion of slavery.4 In effect, the counter movement to expansion of slavery has been crucial to the history of this country since their efforts led to the current American society that accepts and appreciates diversity. Three antislavery Democrats who broke away from their party in the 1930s were crucial to the formation of the Free Party, a splinter party of the Democratic Party. In this regard, these dissidents provided lines of arguments towards which the party would galvanize its ideals and use them to defend its stance. Of all the Jacksonian politicians, William Leggett was the most eloquent in arguing coherently against the centralized authority embodied by the monopolies, the Money Power, and the fanatical reformers.5 In this case, Leggett focused on arguing against concentrated power that was against the concepts that guide natural law and liberty. Thus, Leggett became the champion and hero to the class of producers that was against capitalism. Effectively, he applied this same ideal in his support for abolitionism after undergoing some form of conversion from being a supporter of abolition, to a firm and committed
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It was a short-lived political party which evolved in the 1840s as a reaction to the mounting split between pro- and anti-slavery movements in the United States and the party was active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections in the U.S. The most essential aim of the Free Soil Party was to resist the spreading out of slavery into the western territories of the U.S.
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