The change of name from “Free Soil” or “Liberty” to “Republican” in 1856 had very little significance. It was a matter of partisan policy and nothing more. “Liberty” and “Free Soil,” as party cognomens, had a meaning, and were supposed to antagonize certain prejudices. “Republican,” at that juncture, meant nothing whatever. Besides, it was sonorous; it was euphonious; it was palatable to weak political stomachs. The ready acceptance of the new name by the Abolitionists goes very far to contradict Mr. Roosevelt’s accusation against them of being regardless of the claims of political expediency.
The writer has shown, as he believes, that without the preparatory work of the political Abolitionists there would have been no Republican party. He will now go a step further. He believes that without that preliminary service there would not only have been no Republican party, but no Civil War in the interest of free soil, no Emancipation Proclamation, no Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution. There might have been and probably would have been considerable discussion, ending in a protest, more or less “ringing,” when slavery was permitted to overstep the line marked out by the Missouri Compromise. There might even have been another “settlement.” But no such adjustment would have seriously impeded the northward march of the triumphant Slave Power. Indeed, in that event it is more than probable that ere this the legal representatives of the late Robert Toombs, of Georgia, would, if so inclined, have made good his boast of calling the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill monument.
So far we have dealt with Mr. Roosevelt’s indictment of the Abolitionists for abandoning the old pro-slavery political parties, and undertaking to construct a new and better one. That, in his judgment, was a political crime. But he charges them with another manifestation of criminality which was much more serious. He accuses them of hostility, to the Union, which was disloyalty and treason. The evidence offered by him in support of his accusation was the Anti-Unionist position taken by William Lloyd Garrison, who branded the Union as a “league with hell,” and some of his associates. But Garrison was not a leader, or even a member, of the third or Liberty party. He denounced it almost as bitterly as Mr. Roosevelt.
Garrison was a Quaker, a non-resistant, and a non-voter. He relied on moral suasion. He saw no salvation in politics. The formation of a new Anti-Slavery party excited his fiery indignation. He declared that it was “ludicrous in its folly, pernicious as a measure of policy, and useless as a political contrivance.”