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

By Jonathan H. Earle | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION
Free Soilers, Republicans,
and the Third Party System,
1848–1854

Even though the results of the 1848 election were disappointing for Free Soilers, supporters throughout the North remained optimistic—even giddy—about the future of their movement. "With our righteous cause the free soil men are invincible," wrote Preston King, who won another term in Congress, this time as a Free Soiler. "The late election is only the Bunker Hill of the moral & political revolution which can terminate only in success to the side of freedom.'1 The new party had disrupted the party system, affected the outcome of a presidential canvass, elected twelve members to Congress, and gained the balance of power in several state capitols, including Ohio and Massachusetts. Moreover, Free Soilers had every reason to believe they had momentum on their side. They viewed their ideology as destined to prevail; once the rest of the electorate of the free states came around to the idea that the expansion of slavery threatened northerners, the Constitution, and even the Union itself, the party could not help but gain in influence and stature.

Even anti–Free Soil satirists accepted the idea of the electoral genies contained in the Wilmot Proviso and the Buffalo bottles. A short-lived humor magazine The John-Donkey published a poem titled "Wilmot, the Wizard" that poked fun at the congressman but spoke with awe of the proviso's popular power:

For straightway he did introduce
A monster weird and spunkey,
With hair like fire, a head like a goose,
And ears like a huge John-donkey.…

-181-

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