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Liberty Party

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LIBERTY PARTY, the first political organization of the American Abolitionists (q.v.). The Anti-Slavery Society was com posed of two wings steadily and at last de cisively diverging: the politicals, who wished the work to be carried on as other reform measures are, by massing its supporters, and either winning a decisive victory or extdrting gradual compromises from its opponents: and the Garrison wing, who refused to vote, hold office or in any way recognize a government which legitimized slavery, denounced the Con stitution and denounced the churches and ministers for refusal to join the movement. The violence of this branch and the revolution ary and sometimes offensive social theories associated with it made the other wing anxious to part company; and this was brought about in 1838 by suggesting the nomination and sup port of abolitionist candidates. The next year, on the refusal of the Garrisonians to listen, the political wing split away and in 1839-40 organized the °American and Foreign Anti Slavery Society." Among the leaders of this secession were James G. Birney, Arthur Tap pan, Gerrit Smith, J. G. Whittier, Edward Beecher, John Jay and Thomas Morris. In a convention at Warsaw, N. Y., 13 Nov. 1839, this branch nominated Birney (a Kentucky ex-slaveholder) for President and Francis J. Lemoyne for Vice-President. A national con vention (mainly from New York) was held 1 April 1840, confirmed these nominations and took the name of the Liberty party. The nomi nees refused to accept, but were voted for none-the-less, and received 7,059 votes in the Harrison-Van Buren election of 1840, of which 2,798 were from New York State. During the next four years the party put up tickets in various local elections. On 30 Aug. 1844 it

held another national convention at Buffalo. Polk was already nominated by the Democrats, on the issue of Texas annexation, which Clay had dodged, securing the nomination by the Whigs; but the Liberty party had pronounced against all ostrich pohcies or candidates and nominated Birney again, with Thomas Morris of Ohio as Vice-President. They received 62,300 votes, all in the North and Northwest, except 15,812 in New York. Small as this vote was, it turned the scale in New York and Michigan against Clay and elected Polk, the Southern Democrat; decided the annexation of Texas and reinforced the slave party with new territory six times the size of New England. This result, however it might prove the poten tial power of the party, was not wholly satisfac tory, and although they polled 74,017 votes in the elections of 1846, it was evident that a pure Abolitionist party was premature. The Abo litionists, therefore, dropped their separate organization, and although they had nominated John P. Hale for President and Leicester ICing for Vice-President in 1847, these candi dates withdrew and in 1848 and 1852 their adherents voted for the candidates of the Free Soil party (q.v.). It was felt that they accom plished much more by strengthening the forces of this practical movement, whose enemies were constantly playing into their hands, than they could have done with the straight ticket. After the rise of the Republican party the former Abolitionists formed part of its reliance and advance guard.