Confederate Anthem - David Allen Coe

Union Dixie - Tennessee Ernie Ford

The Civil War - Rhythm, Rhyme, Results

These songs show a clear divide in the parties of the 1850's, those of the North being Abolitionist for the most part. Those in the South, which seceded, are known as Confederates. The last song is merely educational about the Civil War in general.


Late in the Game


America was late in the abolitionist movement. As early as 1783, anti-slavery feelings ran rapid in Great Britain among the English public. With the vocal William Willberforce at the head of the abolitionist movement, Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807 in which trafficking of all slaves became illegal throughout the British Empire. Finally by 1833, all slaves were emancipated. America, however, would not see the abolishment of slavery for another thirty-two years.



Birth of Anti-Slavery Political Parties in America


Emergence of the Liberty party. Due to polarization between conservative and radical abolitionists, the Liberty party was born in 1839. Alienated by their radical counterparts, convservatives formed the party under the banner of James G. Birney. Unlike the radicals of the American Anti-Slavery Society, members of the Liberty party sought to abolish slavery
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Free Soiler candidates (from left to right): Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis
through gradual emancipation. The party first met in Warsaw, New York, and later held their first national convention in Albany in 1840. Unfortunately, it did not garner much public support and would be succeeded by the Free Soil party.

Free-Soil Movement. In August 1848, anti-slavery members from both the Whig and Liberty party met in Albany, New York. There they established the notable Free Soil party. Their main political ideology was to halt the spread of slavery into the Western Territories and abolish laws that discriminated against free blacks. In the presidential Election of 1848, former President Martin Van Buren and his running mate, Charles Francis, campaigned with the slogan, "free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men." Needless to say the duo lost to the popular Southern Whig, Zachary Taylor. In the Election of 1852, the Free Soil party nominated abolitionist John Parker Hale. Yet due to the Compromise of 1850 (which many believed settled the hot isssue of slavery), many left the abolitionist party and returned to their former allegiances. Later that year, presidential nominee, Hale, won only five percent of the national popular vote and received not a single electoral vote. With their morale shattered and the crisis of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) severely deepening, the Free Soil Party met dissoultion. Many of its members would join the new Republican party.

Birth of the Republican Party. In response to the outrageous Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Republican party was founded in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1854. Many of its members comprised of former Free Soilers, and antislavery Whigs and Democrats.They called for the repeal of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Law. Though many abolitionists were drawn to the Republican party, the majority chiefly constituted of northern and western moderates who joined in opposition to the spread of slavery. However they were content to see slavery remain in the South, so as long as the cancer was forever isolated to that region of the country. From 1854 to 1860, the Republican party reaped much of its support from the abolitionist North and it quickly became the second largest political party. Yet because it was strictly a Northern party, the growth of the Republican party only continued to succeed in estranging the oversensitve South.

The generation of Civil War Era Republican presidents and leaders and their accomplishments/notable events.


With the Election of 1856 on the horizon, Republicans nominated Senator John C, Frémont, of California, as their presidential candidate. However as indicated on the map provided below, Democrat James Buchanan won both the popular and electoral votes. But to the astonishment of many, the Republicans did extrodinarily well in the election. Frémont carried 11 of the 16 free states and it became increasingly evident that Republicans could win the presidency without any support from the Southern states.
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Electoral college map of the 1856 Election.


While the Democratic party factionalized over the issue of slavery, Republicans confidently met in Chicago to make plans for the upcoming Election of 1860. Their political platform, which massively appealed to the North, promised a protective tariff for industry, free land for homesteaders, internal infrastructure improvements, and, of course, the exclusion of slavery from expanding into western territories. To ensure that they would carry the key states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln as their president. In the South there were already threats of secession should the antislavery Republicans take the White House. The election results were "predictable." As expected, Lincoln carried every one of the free states, which equaled the needed electoral votes to win the election. He did not, however, win the popular vote. The majority of casted votes supported Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas and Southern Democrat John Breckinridge. Regardless, Lincoln's ascension to the Oval Office would signal the secession of the South.

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Electoral college map of the 1860 Election.






















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This is a Flow Chart showing the fractionalization of political parties leading up to and through the Civil War Era. Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans split in the 1820's, and the parties were clearly defined as Jacksonian Democrats and National Republicans by the Election of 1828. Soon after, the Whigs formed as an Anti-Jackson party and was recognized by 1832 with the issue of the Bank of the United States. When slavery started to become a large issue after the Jacksonian Era, many Whig abolitionists broke off and formed an Anti-Slavery Party known as the Liberty Party. This party would eventually develop into the Free-Soil Party at a convention in Albany, NY in 1848. With the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854 the Free-Soil Party was obsolete and absorbed back into the new hybrid of different factions that would become the Republican Party. This was also about the time that the Democrats were breaking up into the Southern Democrats and Northern Democrats. Some of the Northern Democrats would attend the convention in Albany and were acknowledged as the Barn Burners, a radical New York faction of the Democratic party. The Southern Democrats would become the very same party that decided to secede in 1860-1861, and would form the Confederate States of America. The Constitutional Union Party was developed just before the Election of 1860, in which John Bell of Tennessee would run and fail miserably, since instead of appealing to both the North and South via compromise (as was the intention of the party in order to avoid further conflict), the party was not appealing to either the Southern Democrats or the Northern Democrats, or the Republicans, or any of the branches of these parties.

Note: This chart was not taken off the internet, but rather made by hand.




The Importance of the Formation of Anti-Slavery Parties in the Initiation of the Civil War:


The formation of Anti-Slavery Parties was crucial in the Civil war, and should be considered one of the most important causes in the start of the war. Without the radical ideas proposed by the Anti-Slavery Parties such as the Liberty Party and Free-Soil Party, the South would not have had as much fear of abolitionism and thus would have been less prone to secession. Also, these parties' radical ideas for the time spurred more Northern states to strive for total emancipation without repayment up to and throughout the war. Most importantly, these parties were pivotal in the split of the Democratic Party into Northern Democrats and Southern Democrats, which allowed Lincoln an easy win in the election of 1860. This was the primary event that inspired the secession of the Southern States, and therefore, one of, if not THE most important incidents which resulted in the war between the Union and Confederacy. One might say that Lincoln would have still won had Northern Democrats and Southern Democrats pooled their electoral votes, but the election might have gone a completely different direction had there been unity in the party and fewer people mutinying and joining the Republicans. The Anti-Slavery Parties would also add fuel to the fire when they brought up the issue of States' Rights versus Federal Power indirectly by fighting slavery. Had there been no Anti-Slavery Parties, there may not have been the same Republican Party we know today, and there may not have been war, since the likelihood of secession would have been diminished. By proving the contrapositive, it must be concluded that Anti-Slavery Parties were critical in the actuation of the Civil War.

Overall Ranking: 5/5




Works Cited:



"Abolitionism." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Web.16 May 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolitionist>.

"Free Soil Party." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Web.17 May 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_soil_party>.

Newman, John, and John Schmalbach. United States History. 2nd ed. New York: Amsco School Publications, 2002.

"Political Party Timeline: 1836-1864." American Experience. PBS. 16 May 2009 <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lincolns/politics/tl_tree.html>

"Political Parties in the United States." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation. 18 May 2009. <http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761558305_2/Political_Parties_in_the_United_States.html#s5>.