Free Soil Movement is a political campaign of the 1840s to oppose the spread of slavery in the western territories of the United States. Although the movement did not exist for a long time, it managed to influence the overall attitude towards slavery expansion and determine the further line of policy in terms of slavery.


The period before the Civil War in the United States is described as the time of intense political turmoil. In American history, the middle of the 18th century is marked with numerous movements, campaigns and reforms, many of which were connected with increasing tensions around slavery expansion. One of them was the Free Soil Movement, a political campaign that took place in the 1840s and was aimed at opposing the spread of slavery.

The movement officially began in the year of 1848, even though by this time the issue of expanding slavery had already come to the peak. Many historical events of that period ignited slavery opposition ideas, and therefore, led to the creation of the Free Soil Party.

One of these events was the annexation of Texas in 1844, which was considered a pro-slavery act, as Texas was a slave state at that time. The acquisition of the Oregon Country was also approved, and the situation became so tense that it led to declaring war against Mexico.

Free Soil Party was finally created in 1848 after the Mexican-American war as a result of slavery spreading into the Mexican Session. The party included former Whig Party and the Democratic Party members with Martin Van Buren, Salmon P. Chase and Senator John P. Hale as the leaders.

With the party slogan “Free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men!” it denounced slavery and its spreading. Based in Buffalo, NY, the party gained a lot of support from the state. Many of the supporters were small farmers and merchants, as they suffered from labor competition the party was opposed to.

According to the ideology of the movement, the free soil system dominated over slavery institution in terms of economics and moral issues. The party stated that the right of land should be guaranteed to all men. At the same time, the party members did not stand for the abolition of slavery in the southern states.

The reason for this was that the party mainly aimed at restraining slavery to its current borders, so that white workers would not be affected. The issues of slavery were finally represented in the Compromise of 1850, and the Free Soil Party ceased to exist.

It is hard to deny the Free Soil Movement significance and its essential contribution to American slavery policy. Although the party survived only two presidential elections (in 1848 and 1852), it influenced the overall attitude of the South towards slavery situation in the western regions promoting republican values in the West.

The program, which the movement participants stood for, became the principles of the new Republican Party that were formed in 1854. Therefore, it is fair to state that the ideology of the party outlived the movement itself and became the basis of further reforms regarding the slavery policy.

To conclude, it is possible to say that the issue of slavery during the Civil War in America was discussed from different perspectives. The Free Soil Movement is the example of how a political party can both experience success and misfortunes. Despite having a significant number of supporters, the party did not exist for a long time; however, its ideas became a foundation stone for further developments of slavery policy.