The Differences Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities
Return to Comparison Statements: Campaign of 1860

In the first half of 1860 Republican editors in Franklin's Repository and Transcript attacked slavery as a violation of nature that stole from the workingman the fruits of his labor; they focused mainly on slavery's potential to undermine free labor.

While the Republicans in Franklin condemned slavery as a social ill and immoral, they paid more attention to the ways the institution threatened the position of white working men in 1860. Containment of slavery was necessary, they argued, because slavery was such an aggressive, insidious threat that it would find its way into new and unexpected places. The result, they contended, would be stagnation and ruin for the average white working man. "Who among working men, that has any respect for himself and for his wife and children," the Republicans asked, "wishes to see this free State of Pennsylvania overrun with Slavery?" The editors did not distinguish white from black "working men" but they clearly struck hard on the idea that the form of slavery they saw across the border could infiltrate all aspects of Northern society. "Every branch of industry," the editors pointed out, "which now affords support for thousands of white people, who are willing to work for a living, [would be] supplied with the labor of negroes whose bodies and souls (while in the flesh) belong to their masters--recognized as such by law." They called to the "mechanics" and the "different branches of industry" in Franklin and asked whether they wished to be "degraded by the competition of Slave labor."

Supporting Evidence

Franklin Repository, Slavery in Nebraska , February 1, 1860

Franklin Repository, Is Poverty a Crime, April 11, 1860

Franklin Repository, Strike for Freedom, May 5, 1860

Franklin Repository, Equal Rights in the Territories, July 18, 1860

Franklin Repository, Mr. Breckinridge as a Logician, July 18, 1860

Franklin Repository, The Necessary Consequence, July 18, 1860

Franklin Repository, Address of the Republican Executive Committee of Maryland, August 1, 1860

Franklin Repository, How Slaves Drive Out Free Labor, August 1, 1860

Franklin Repository, Important Southern Testimony, August 1, 1860

Franklin Repository, The Work of the Campaign, August 1, 1860

Franklin Repository, Douglas Deprecating Agitation, August 8, 1860

Franklin Repository, Electoral Votes of the States, August 8, 1860

Franklin Repository, The Nigger Democracy, March 7, 1860

Related Historiography

Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989).
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970).
William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854, Volume 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).
Eugene D. Genovese, "Yeomen Farmers in a Slaveholders' Democracy," Agricultural History 49, no. 2, (April 1975).
John W. Quist, Restless Visionaries: The Social Roots of Antebellum Reform in Alabama and Michigan (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998).

Citation: Key = TAF37
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