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FREE SOIL PARTY

The FREE SOIL PARTY of Cuyahoga County was organized in the summer of 1848 as part of a national third-party movement which supported free grants of public land to settlers and opposed the extension of slavery to the western territories.

In Ohio the Free Soilers were concentrated in the WESTERN RESERVE, where the party drew its support from antislavery elements in both the Whig and Democratic parties and the Liberty party, which had been politically active in the mid-1840s. At the Ohio Free Territory Convention, held in Columbus on 21 June 1848, Edward Stowe Hamlin, editor of the Cleveland DAILY TRUE DEMOCRAT, took the lead in securing a resolution approving the free-soil doctrine. The Cuyahoga County group was organized by THOMAS BOLTON and Huron Beebe, who along with EDWARD WADE attended the national organizing convention of the Free-Soil party held in Buffalo on 9-10 August 1848. Ex-president Martin Van Buren was nominated as the new party's presidential candidate, and on 12 Aug. a ratification meeting was held on PUBLIC SQUARE in Cleveland affirming his nomination. In the 1848 election, Van Buren won the county by a slim margin, but came in 3rd nationally behind Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass.

The local party continued its activities in 1849 and 1850 but began to lose strength. At the state Free-Soil convention in Cleveland on 22 Aug. 1850, Rev. Edward Smith was nominated for governor but failed to win a majority in Cuyahoga County or the state. In 1854 the party became part of the Anti-Nebraska movement.