The Opposition Party was a short-lived political party in the United States that formed during the controversy over slavery in the middle of the 19th century. This period of political turmoil saw the formation and dissolution of a number of political parties that split on the slavery issue. Ultimately, abolitionists prevailed and slavery was outlawed in the United States, but not before the political and social landscape changed radically.
The roots of the Opposition Party lie in the Whig Party, a political party that was marred with internal conflict almost from the start. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act that allowed new territories to decide whether to enter as slave or free states caused a schism in the Whig Party. Some Whigs supported the Act, while others were infuriated that the Missouri Compromise was being disregarded. Some Whigs split off to form the abolitionist Republican Party, while a small group formed the Opposition Party. Others joined forces with the Democrats and a number of other small political parties.
Politically, the Opposition Party was very similar to the original Whig Party and attempted to continue the legacies of the Whigs. They didn't adopt the Whig name because they felt that it had been tainted by the dispute and this party could be considered simply a continuation of the Whigs under a different name. Initially, the Opposition Party managed to elect a number of members to Congress, primarily because the Republicans did not organize themselves in time. After 1854, however, the numbers and influence of the Opposition Party waned. By 1858, the party was essentially dead.
Another group of former Whigs created the Constitutional Union Party and convinced former Opposition Party members to join them. This party attempted to maintain a neutral stance on slavery to promote keeping the United States whole. This did not prove effective and the party rapidly disintegrated as the United States fell into civil war when a number of Southern states seceded and attempts at maintaining a union by political means were abandoned.
This was a turbulent period in American political and social history that lead to radical shifts in the relatively new nation. The debate over slavery proved extremely explosive and the political landscape shifted rapidly as parties formed, reformed, and changed their previous political positions. Ultimately, the highly organized Democratic Party and the newly formed Republic Party emerged with tremendous clout, becoming the two primary political parties in the United States.