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The Doom of ReconstructionThe Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era$
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Andrew L. Slap

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227099

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227099.001.0001

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The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872

The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872

(p.25) 2 The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872
The Doom of Reconstruction

Andrew L. Slap

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the liberal republicans' view of political parties as “engine[s] to accomplish objects of public good” and as reform coalitions that become corrupt and need constant renewal. Strongly committed to principle, liberal republicans would not follow party discipline during the Civil War, and some criticized their party for corruption and use of the spoils system. During the war, they challenged the political system by developing an independent press, something unknown at a time when most newspapers were operated by political parties. While some historians have seen the liberal republican approach to political parties as a cynical way of rationalizing their movement, their concept of party was the culmination of words and deeds over the course of two decades. In articulating their vision of political parties, the liberal republicans were drawing on their experiences since the 1848 founding of the Free Soil Party.

Keywords:   political parties, corruption, public good, reform, independent press

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