Wednesday, December 26, 2007


FREE-SOIL PARTY A minor political party founded in the late 1840's by antislavery Whigs, antislavery Democrats and members of the declining Liberty Party, the Free-Soil Party was opposed to the further extension of slavery into the western territories of the United States. Unlike the Liberty Party, which advocated the abolition of slavery in the United States, the Free-Soil move­ment simply wanted to contain slavery where it already existed and to prevent its spread into those territories acquired by the United States during the Mexican War.

As a reflection of the fact that the Free-Soilers were not "pro-black," its platform during the presidential election of 1848 made it perfectly clear that blacks, free as well as slave, were not wanted in the western territories. "Let the soil of our extensive domains," the platform stated, "be kept free for the hardy pioneers of our own and the oppressed and banished of other lands, seeking homes of comfort and fields of enterprise in the New World."

Advocating "free soil, free speech, free labor and free men," the Free-Soil Party nominated former President Martin Van Buren as its presidential candidate in 1848. Though Van Buren drew about ten percent of the total votes away from Lewis Cass, the Democratic candidate, the election was won by Zachary Taylor, the Whig candidate. Following another defeat at the polls in 1852, the Free-Soil Party lost momentum and was subse­quently absorbed into the Republican Party after 1854. See also: LIBERTY PARTY and WILMOT PROVISO.

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