Social, Political and Economic Forces in 1840-1850 Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Currently, the USA is known for having two main political parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Still, they did not appear simultaneously. In the 19th century, democratic Americans started to emphasize the necessity of slavery abolition. However, they could not come to an agreement considering this point. On the basis of this issue, the Democratic South that was interested in the massive territorial expansion of the country due to economic considerations separated from the North. This paper will discuss these events in detail, emphasizing that the emerge of the Republican Party took place not only because of the conflict between the North and the South considering slavery abolition but due to the combination of different forces that existed in the middle of the 19th century. Social, political, and economic factors will be identified, and two ideologies will be compared.

The conflict between the North and the South started in the 1840s, as a tariff for revenue bill was lowered1. Such alteration was advantageous for the South because it had a positive influence on their one crop economy, but the representatives of the North considered that such change would have a negative influence on the USA manufacturing. Soon, social tensions became even more critical because the question of slavery expansion arose and the views of Northern Democrats and Whigs were opposed to those their southern cohorts had.

During the same decade, the government claimed that it was willing to reach new destinations across the continent. In fact, it even seemed to consider such development to be Americans’ mission to spread their democratic traditions. The victory over Mexico provided an opportunity to fulfill this goal but also made the conflict between the South and the North even worse. It turned into the major political issue of that time because of Mexican-American and the desire to make California a part of the Union (even though they already had good commercial relations) made the government question the possibility of making the states free2.

A part of the country’s population also believed that the expansion of slavery to new territories along with democratic ideas could have advantageous influences on the economy, while others saw it as the main threat3. As a result, a lot of political debates emerged. Some decisions regarding them were even discussed by the court.

Still, the creation of the Republican Party was not triggered only by these issues. In addition to them, the market revolution also fuelled the process. The North received an opportunity to unify because new railroads that connected its eastern and western parts started operating4. Those people who followed the ideas of Republicans received a chance to gather and develop their political interventions.

Increased immigration to the country was considered as a negative experience that prevents America from developing by some populations. Those people who revealed a strong sense of nativism created the Know-Nothing Party. Its views did not coincide with those the Democratic Party had, which led to conflicts. It would emphasize the necessity to have only native-born American politicians in the government5. As this party fell apart, its disappointed representatives joined the Republicans.

The development of free labor ideology also turned out to be rather a beneficial alteration for the creation of a new party. It underlined Americans’ desire to abolish slavery. A part of the population supported this belief because the connection between the image of the country and free labor was establishing. Frederic Douglas wanted to avoid misunderstandings and tried to allow the states make a personal decision regarding this question. Such intervention led to Bleeding Kansas and turned out to be advantageous for Republicans, as Missourians would come to Kansas to vote for slavery6.

Of course, the American presidents were also involved in this process. Douglas, who expected to be reelected, suddenly faced strong opposition from Lincoln while campaigning for a place in the Illinois’s senate. Lincoln underlined moral fervor of the issue and resorted to the Constitution to support his views, which had the positive influence on the people’s perceptions. Even though Douglas with his value of self-government and self-determination was reelected, Republicans obtained their auditory7. Finally, with the election of Lincoln as a President determined the road to secession, as the South would believe that its interests were not supported and its rights were not recognized.

All in all, it can be stated that Democrats wanted the government to let the states be free, while Republicans wanted to be supported. The Democratic Party paid more attention to agriculture, while the Republican one focused on manufacturing. Democrats were against slavery abolition, but Republicans were for it8.

Thus, it can be concluded that the Republican Party emerged due to the development of different views considering slavery. It gathered the representatives of other political parties that fell apart at that time and turned into one of the leading parties in the country just in two years. The party believed that slavery should not spread to new territories even though it was not concerned about its total abolition. They thought that new territories could turn into the land of second chances for poor people.


Bates, Christopher. The Early Republic and Antebellum America. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Broadwater, Robert. Did Lincoln and the Republican Party Create the Civil War? Jefferson: McFarland, 2008.

Carnes, Mark. Historical Atlas of the United States. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Eual, Yonatan. The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

Guelzo, Allen. Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Paley, Carl. The Late, Not So Great, Republican Party. Pennsauken: BookBaby, 2014.

Wroe, Andrew. The Republican Party and Immigration Politics. New York: Springer, 2008.


1. Christopher Bates, The Early Republic and Antebellum America. (New York: Routledge, 2013), 997.

2. Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), 476.

3. Yonatan Eual, The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 190.

4. Andrew Wroe, The Republican Party and Immigration Politics. (New York: Springer, 2008), 53.

5. Robert Broadwater, Did Lincoln and the Republican Party Create the Civil War? (Jefferson: McFarland, 2008), 21.

6. Mark Carnes, Historical Atlas of the United States. (New York: Routledge, 2013), 148.

7. Allen Guelzo, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010), 49.

8. Carl Paley, The Late, Not So Great, Republican Party. (Pennsauken: BookBaby, 2014), 179.

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