About this collection

The Free Soil Banner was published in Indianapolis from 1848 to 1854. Other cities had newspapers by the same name, but the Indiana version was edited by Lew Wallace and William B. Greer, and reportedly funded by Ovid Butler, the founder of North Western Christian University, later renamed Butler University.

The paper was an instrument of the Free Soil Party, which was formed in 1848 and was primarily made up of former members of the Liberty Party and anti-slavery members of the Whigs and the New York Democratic Party. The main plank in the Party’s platform was that slavery should not be extended to the territories newly gained in the war with Mexico, but should be "free soil", worked by free (as opposed to slave) labor. They stopped short at advocating the abolition of slavery, preferring to contain it to the areas where it was already allowed, believing that it would eventually die out.

The primary purpose of the Free Soil Banner was to promote the party’s candidates, Martin Van Buren for president, and Charles F. Adams for vice-president, and to gain supporters for their cause, summed up in their slogan, "Free soil, free speech, free labor, free men." The newspapers contain the proceedings of meetings and conventions, speeches, letters, and, of course, sometimes humorous jabs at their opponents.

While the Free Soil Party did manage to seat two senators and fourteen members of the House of Representatives, they fell short in the presidential races. After two unsuccessful runs, the party folded, with much of the membership going on to create the Republican Party.

 
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