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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.
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.
Presidents from the Whig Party
Presidents of the United States, 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.