“The Liberty party was not in any sense the precursor of the Republican party, which was based as much on expediency as on abstract right.”
It is very true that many Republicans, especially in the earlier days, were neither Abolitionists nor Anti-Slavery people.
A good many of them, like Abraham Lincoln
, were sentimentally adverse to slavery, but under existing conditions did not want it disturbed.
Many of them, having broken loose from the old parties, had no other place of shelter and cared nothing for slavery one way or the other, some being of the opinion of one of the new party leaders whom the writer hereof heard declare that “the niggers are just where they ought to be.”
All this, however, does not prove that the third-party people were not the real forerunners and founders of the Republican party.
They certainly helped to break up the old organizations, crushing them in whole or part.
They supplied a contingent of trained and desperately earnest workers, their hearts being enlisted as well as their hands.
And what was of still greater consequence, they furnished an issue, and one that was very much alive, around which the detached fragments of the old parties could collect and unite.
Their share in the composition and development of the new party can be illustrated.
Out in our great midland valley two rivers — the Missouri
and the Mississippi-meet and mingle their waters.
The Missouri, although the larger stream, after the junction is heard of no more; but being charged with a greater supply of sedimentary matter, gives its color to the combined flood of the assimilated waters.
Abolitionism was merged