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United States Whig Party

United States Whig Party was a political party of the United States. The party was created in order to oppose the policies of Andrew Jackson and called itself the Whig Party analoguously to the English Whigs, who had opposed the power of the King in Restoration England.


The party initially formed in 1833-1834 as an alliance between the Northern and border state National Republican[?] party, led by men like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, a nationalistic party devoted to Clay's American System[?], with Southern states-rights opponents of Jackson, united only by their dislike of Jackson.

The party was so disunified initially that, in 1836, they could not agree on a single candidate. William Henry Harrison ran in the northern and border states, Hugh L. White ran in the South, and Daniel Webster ran in his home state of Massachusetts. They were soundly defeated.

Victory and Catastrophe

In the years that followed, the Whigs began to develop a more comprehensive platform, favoring a protective tariff, the creation of a new Bank of the U.S., and use of the proceeds of public land sales to aid the states in internal improvements. In 1839, the Whigs held their first national convention, giving the nod to Harrison, who was elected president next year, largely as a result of the terrible economy.

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The party ultimately collapsed in the eve of the Civil War in response to the growing sectionalism in the nation. Northern Whigs, in particular, deserted the party in large numbers in favor of the newly formed Republican Party.

United States President, dates in office

  1. William Henry Harrison (1841)
  2. John Tyler (see note) (1841-1845)
  3. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
  4. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

(Note: Although Tyler was elected vice president as a Whig, his policies soon proved to be opposed to most of the Whig agenda, and he was officially expelled from the party in 1841, a few months after taking office.)

Further Reading: Michael Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party

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