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Liberty Party

Image showing the Liberty party's 1844 ticket

The Liberty Press, 1844, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Liberty Party was a former third party in the United States that was most prominent in the 1840s. The party is notable for supporting abolitionism before the movement became widespread.


Abolitionism had existed in the United States as soon as the new country was created. Groups of abolitionists in the 1830s thought to go to the two major political parties at the time, the Whig party and the Democratic party, to voice their opinions on abolitionism. They had almost no chance with the Democrats, who were already trying to shut out antislavery figures on the grounds of party unity. While there was a better chance that they might be able to side with the Whigs, certain proslavery factions in the party prevented this. The abolitionists then decided it was best to make their own political party, which was officially founded in 1840, though the name "Liberty party" was not adopted until 1841 after beating other suggestions such as "The Freemen's party" and the "Abolition party". In 1840 and 1844, the party ran James Birney for president, with the latter election having Birney get over 2% of the popular vote nationwide.


The party's biggest stance was being antislavery, and had many members that were either African-American and/or women.


In 1844, the party began to split over if it was meant to be a temporary or permanent party. The true disbanding of the party began though when former president Martin Van Buren walked out from the Democratic party and began a new political party, the Free Soil party. Both frontrunners of the 1848 election, Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass were slave owners, which gave Van Buren an opportunity. The Liberty party had a ticket for the election, but knowing that the Free Soil party had more strength, most of the party's members voted for Van Buren instead. This would cause the party to essentially merge with the Free Soil party, though there were still some loyal Liberty party delegates who stayed with the party. However, the party's fate was guaranteed after the formation of the antislavery Republican party. The party officially folded in 1860.

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