Hunkers and Barnburners

Hunkers and Barnburners

Two factions of the New York state Democratic Party in the 19th century. The party split over slavery in the 1840s. The conservative Hunkers (so called by their opponents as those who “hunkered” or “hankered” after political office), led by William Marcy, favoured the annexation of Texas and denounced antislavery agitation. The radical and reformist Barnburners (so called by their opponents as those who burned the barn to get rid of the rats), led by Martin Van Buren, opposed slavery's extension into new territories. At the 1848 Democratic national convention, the Barnburners joined the Free Soil Party, nominating Van Buren for president. In the 1850s some Barnburners returned to the Democratic Party while others joined the new Republican Party.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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