Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854 / Edition 1

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Overview

Taking our understanding of political antislavery into largely unexplored terrain, Jonathan H. Earle counters conventional wisdom and standard historical interpretations that view the ascendance of free-soil ideas within the antislavery movement as an explicit retreat from the goals of emancipation or even as an essentially proslavery ideology. These claims, he notes, fail to explain free soil's real contributions to the antislavery cause: its incorporation of Jacksonian ideas about property and political equality and its transformation of a struggling crusade into a mass political movement.

Democratic free soilers' views on race occupied a wide spectrum, but they were able to fashion new and vital arguments against slavery and its expansion based on the party's long-standing commitment to egalitarianism and hostility to centralized power. Linking their antislavery stance to a land-reform agenda that pressed for free land for poor settlers in addition to land free of slavery, Free Soil Democrats forced major political realignments in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Ohio. Democratic politicians such as David Wilmot, Marcus Morton, John Parker Hale, and even former president Martin Van Buren were transformed into antislavery leaders. As Earle shows, these political changes at the local, state, and national levels greatly intensified the looming sectional crisis and paved the way for the Civil War.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Deeply researched, lucidly written, clearly and provocatively argued, and packed with new information."
Civil War History Journal

"Provides fresh readings of new or underused evidence to make the case that Democratic free soilers were an essential part of the coalition that helped root out slavery in North America."
Historical New Hampshire

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807855553
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/25/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan H. Earle is associate professor of history at the University of Kansas and author of the Routledge Atlas of African American History.
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