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It takes political conditions that have to ask "the party question" of us.
Otherwise, it's entirely an abstraction of dubious meaning shared among a
relative handful of people.  We should keep the matter in mind, of course,
but until there's serious movements (and I don't mean things that fall dead
on their face because the Democrats ask them to), nothing is forcing an
answer to that question.

The American equivalent of the Chartists, the old land reformers merit
consideration in this, along with--and, perhaps especially, the political
abolitionists.  After some initial false starts, these forces combined
their efforts in a numerically small but broad electoral effort that denied
both the Democrats and Whigs majorities in the wake of the Mexican War.
Starting in New York and then in Massachusetts, they began what became an
unraveling of the two-party system--that is, the legitimated the idea of
not voting for either of the proslavery parties.

The strength of raising the question of slavery in a political way became
widespread enough that it posed "the party question" in a serious way.

ML
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