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The Birth of the Republican Party

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1 The Birth of the Republican Party

2 Slavery Divides Whigs The Whig party had long been divided into two separate factions: Two factions divided over Compromise of 1850 because of the Fugitive Slave Act. Northern “conscience” (antislavery) Whigs Southern “cotton” (proslavery) Whigs.

3 Upcoming Election of 1852 The defeat and doom of the Whig Party
Democrats - Franklin Pierce- enemyless, inconspicious, prosouthern northerner. Endorse Compromise 1850 and Fugitive Slave Law Whigs - didn’t pick Webster or Fillmore. Instead went with military guy- Gen Winfield Scott. OK with Compromise of 1850 Whigs split and begin to die in this election. End of national parties and rise of purely sectional parties. RIP Whig Party - kept Union together through electoral strength in South and through leaders like Webster and Clay

4 1852 Presidential Election
√ Franklin Pierce Gen. Winfield Scott John Parker Hale Democrat Whig Free Soil

5 Slavery Divides Whigs Because Winfield Scott owed nomination to northern Whigs, he wasn’t a big supporter of Compromise of 1850. Alienated southern Whigs. Whig vote in the South dropped from 50% in 1848 to 35% in 1852. Divided vote gave presidency to Democrat Franklin Pierce.

6 1852 Election Results

7 Franklin Pierce and Expansionist America
Manifest Destiny Nicaragua - William Walker British challenged Monroe Doctrine Raids in Latin America Commodore Perry in Japan 1853 Gadsen Purchase

8 New Political Parties Emerge
1856- The political landscape very different than it had been in 1848. Whig party split over the issue of slavery- lost support in the North and the South. Democratic party still alive.

9 Slavery Divides Whigs The 1854 Kansas Nebraska Act was the final straw in eliminating the Whig party. Southern Whigs looked for a proslavery, pro-Union party to join. Northern Whigs looked for a political alternative of their own.

10 Know-Nothing Party (the American Party)
One alternative for the former Whigs . The Know-Nothings developed out of a secret society known as the Star-Spangled Banner club. When asked to to answer questions about their activities, they answered “I know nothing.” Nativists. Anti-Catholics. Anti-immigrants.

11 Know-Nothing Party Southern Know-Nothings looked for alternative to Democrats, and Northern Know-Nothings began to move toward Republican Party. Supported longer naturalization period for immigrants to delay their ability to vote. Like the Whigs, Know-Nothings were split over the issue of slavery.

12 Antislavery Parties Form
Two forerunners to Republican Party emerged during the 1840’s. Liberty Party- very small abolitionist party that divided the vote in 1844 and gave the presidency to James K. Polk over Henry Clay. 1848- Free Soil Party: opposed extension of slavery into territories.

13 Free Soil Party 1848- chose former Democratic president Martin Van Buren as candidate. Failed to win any electoral votes, but won 10% of popular vote. Sent message that although not all Northerners supported abolition, they opposed extension of slavery into territories.

14 Free Soil Party Northern opposition to slavery not necessarily based on moral issues. Some supported racist laws prohibiting black settlement in their communities, and denying them the right to vote. Primarily objected to slavery’s competition with free labor. The extension of slavery threatened the free labor system.

15 Free Soil Party Did not agree with such events as the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise (a.k.a. as the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854) Felt that these events amounted to a conspiracy to spread slavery over the entire country, which had to be stopped.


17 The Republican Party -Birth of the Republican party 1854
Slavery had come to dominate the differences in the parties -by 1850 the differences had peaked so that anti-slavery Whigs, Democrats, and Free-Soilers formed a new anti-slavery party -official party policy was to oppose the growth of slavery where it did not exist.

18 Republican Party United in opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and keeping slavery out of the territories. Other than that, it embraced a wide range of opinions. As the party grew, it took on Free-Soilers, antislavery Whigs and Democrats, nativists from the North, and radical abolitionists.

19 "The Great Republican Reform Party Calling on their Candidate", an 1856 print which is a political cartoon about John C. Frémont, the first Republican party candidate for president of the United States. In the 1840's and 1850's, radical social reform movements (such as slavery abolitionism, alcohol prohibitionism, pacifism, socialism, and after 1848, feminism) and/or what were considered eccentric currents of thought (such as Transcendentalism, Mormonism, Oneida, "spirit-rappers" or Spiritualism, etc.) were sometimes stigmatized by being lumped together as "the Isms". Southerners often prided themselves on the American South being free from all of the pernicious Isms (except for alcohol temperance campaigning, which was fully compatible with traditional Protestant fundamentalism). For example, on Sept. 5th and 9th 1856, the Richmond, Virginia Examiner ran editorials on "Our Enemies, the Isms and their Purposes", while in 1858 "Parson" Brownlow" called for a "Missionary Society of the South, for the Conversion of the Freedom Shriekers, Spiritualists, Free-lovers, Fourierites, and Infidel Reformers of the North" (reference: The Freedom-of-thought Struggle in the Old South by Clement Eaton). And George Fitzhugh wrote "Why have you Bloomers and Women's Right's men, and strong-minded women, and Mormons, and anti-renters, and 'vote myself a farm' men, Millerites, and Spiritual Rappers, and Shakers, and Widow Wakemanites, and Agrarians, and Grahamites, and a thousand other superstitious and infidel Isms at the North? Why is there faith in nothing, speculation about everything?"[1] This cartoon seeks to stigmatize the Fremont campaign and the Republican party (which was the first broadly-successful political party in United States history to firmly and unyieldingly oppose all attempts at the geographical expansion of slavery) by associating them with the "Isms", most of which were politically very controversial (and some of which were considered to be offensively immoral by many) at the time. The advocates of the Isms are shown making demands on Fremont:

20 The Republican Party Attracted temperance supporters, small farmers who wanted land grants in the West, commercial farmers and manufacturers who needed internal improvements to prosper. Support from wide range of diverse groups gave the Republican Party the strength it needed.

21 The Republican Party Primary competition was the Know-Nothing Party, which was well-organized at the state level. Both parties targeted the same group of voters. Republicans lacked national organization; they needed a development that would refocus people’s attention on slavery issue. P

22 The Republican Party “Bleeding Kansas” and “Bleeding Sumner” gave Republicans the issues it needed to challenge Democrats for presidency in 1856.

23 Presidential Election of 1856
√ James Buchanan John C. Frémont Millard Fillmore Democrat Republican Whig & Know-Nothing Party Why not President Pierce or dynamic Stephen Douglas? Why not “Higher Law” Seward?

24 Election of 1856 Buchanan out of the country during the dispute over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which made him “Kansasless”. Buchanan was the only true national candidate. Buchanan won election with only 45% of popular vote. Fremont: 33%; Fillmore: 22%.

25 1856 Election Results Note: 2 year old Republicans received a large chunk of the votes even if they did lose.

26 Election of 1856 Demonstrated that Democrats could win the presidency with national candidate who could compete in the North without alienating the South. Know-Nothings were in national decline. Republicans were now major political force in the North.

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