MOVEMENTS OF THE 1850s THAT SHAPED THE EMERGING REPUBLICAN PARTY

In the social ferment of the 1850s reform was in the air, as Americans argued both the possibilities and the limits of freedom. Many of the founding Republicans were deeply involved in reform movements of the day, and many in those movements were drawn to the new party by the Republican rhetoric of freedom and liberty. In the collapse of the existing party structure through the decade, the Republican movement became the focus of reformers' energy, with their many and varied programs for a better America and a national future unshackled from the slave power.