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Free Soil, Whig, Democrat, and Republic Political Parties

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

New Political Parties

As the battle between the proslavery and antislavery factions continued, northerners formed new political parties in their attempt to combat the spread of slavery and maintain their power base in Washington. The Free-Soil Party, formed in 1848, did not win any electoral votes in the presidential election. However, a number of its candidates were elected to Congress.

In 1852, the Free-Soilers tried for the White House once again. Their candidate was John Hale of New Hampshire, running against Democrat Franklin Pierce and Whig Winfield Scott, who had served with distinction in the Mexican War. Pierce won in a landslide of electoral votes, and the Free-Soilers gave up the struggle. The Whigs also accepted this defeat as final; they were never again to play a significant role in American politics.

In 1854, the remnants of the Whig Party and the Free-Soil Party joined antislavery members of the Know-Nothing and Democratic parties. This group formed a strong coalition of men determined to end the expansion of slavery in the United States. They called their new party the Republican Party. In 1856, they supported John C. Frémont for president. Frémont, a career army officer and a topographical engineer in peacetime, made a strong showing, but Democratic candidate James Buchanan carried the South and thus won the presidency.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

A House Divided Practice Test

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