Third parties have rarely fared well in American politics. The Free Soil Party of the pre-Civil War days, for example, had at its height a handful of congressional representatives and served primarily as a spoiler between the two major parties, the Whigs and the Democrats. Still, the Free Soilers were a key precursor to the Republican Party, which came into its own with the 1860 presidential election of Abraham Lincoln, supplanting the Whigs.
In his study of Free Soil politics from 1824 to 1854, Jonathan H. Earle, examines the role of former Jacksonian Democrats with their egalitarian, anti-big-money-power rhetoric, embodied in the 1829-1837 presidency of Andrew Jackson, in the creation of the Free Soil ideology.
This report prepared by Rick Burnett