Other political parties either supported slavery or were divided on it. Abolitionists from the Whig Party and other smaller parties formed a political party in 1854 with the explicit goal of abolishing slavery in the United States. The new party's platform called for the abolition of slavery as an institution in the nation's capital and the prohibition of slavery's expansion into any additional state territories. This position was later adopted by most Northern Democrats as well.
Slavery was not a major issue during the first two decades of its existence because it was not possible to bring about its immediate demise even if you were opposed to it. But supporters of slavery quickly realized that the only way they could continue this evil system was by hiding it under the cover of darkness. Therefore, it became necessary to create a whole new party devoted solely to protecting slavery from abolitionist attacks. This fact is proof that slavery was very important to planters who wanted to keep it alive even after the process of slave trading ended.
They found support from members of the Democratic Party who believed that the union should be preserved at all costs. In return, these Democrats would help protect slavery while it remained in their states.
But the Whigs also received support from people who owned slaves. They thought it was important to have a party that did not condemn slavery outright but instead gave it a fair chance.
The Birth of a Major Political Party Abolitionists from the Whig Party and other smaller parties formed a political party in 1854 with the explicit goal of abolishing slavery in the United States. During an early organizational conference in Jackson, Michigan in 1854, the new party took the name "Republican."
Their opposition to slavery led many people to view the Republicans as dangerous radicals who wanted to destroy the government. In 1860, when voters went to the polls for what would become known as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Election, there were already two major political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. But by the time voters went to the polls again in 1864, there were only two political parties left: the Union Party and the Confederacy Party. The Republicans nominated Lincoln for president again, but this time they also nominated a candidate for vice president: 66-year-old former President John Quincy Adams.
Lincoln's election made him the first Republican president. It also made him the first president never to have been elected directly by his constituents. Instead, he was chosen by a special convention of Republicans in Illinois. By doing this, they gave slavery its final push into the western part of the country, where it became safe from abolitionist violence.
Abolitionism was not the only thing that united the various groups and individuals who formed the Republican Party.
The Whig Party was founded in 1834 to fight President Andrew Jackson's "tyranny." However, the party had demonstrated its inability to fight the national problem over slavery in the mid-1800s, prompting its anti-slavery leaders to seek further methods to bolster their cause. Thus, the party turned toward greater support from the business community and wealthy landowners.
Their plan worked: The Whigs defeated Jackson in the 1836 election. They also encouraged the expansion of slavery into new territories, helping it become more popular among Southern voters. But the party did manage to improve conditions for slaves who lived in the South by abolishing slavery as an institution in the states where it existed.
In addition, the Whigs supported a policy known as "popular sovereignty" that allowed settlers in any part of the country to decide for themselves whether they wanted slavery. By supporting this idea, the Whigs hoped to gain support from those states where slavery was growing increasingly unpopular.
Finally, the Whigs advocated for civil service reform, which would have made government jobs available to non-politicians. They believed that only by doing this could the party rebuild its reputation after suffering major defeats in the elections of 1836 and 1840.