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Parties > Party 29

About the Whig Party
After the collapse of the National Republican Party, there was no major opposition to the governing Democratic Party and President Andrew Jackson (both parties were splinters of the Democratic-Republican Party of Jefferson). The Whig Party, named after the opponents of royal authority in Britain (the Whigs saw themselves in opposition to “King Andrew”) was formed in 1834. The Whigs had little ideological consensus except for opposition to President Jackson. The Party ran three regionalist candidates against Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren, in 1836 in an attempt to split the vote and let the house of representatives decide the election, but this failed and Van Buren was elected with more than 50 percent of the vote. The Whigs, however, did win the presidency the next election with William Henry Harrison, who died just a month into his term. His successor was his Vice President, John Tyler, who vetoed most Whig legislation and was consequently expelled from the party. The Whigs remained one of the two major political parties in the United States until 1854. Whigs were concerned with more power for congress, rather than the president, and most of the party was in favor of tariffs and supported the reinstitution of the National Bank—though the Whigs never had a very uniform national platform. The Party was divided on slavery, with (mostly Northern) ‘Conscience’ Whigs being against slavery and its expansion, and (mostly Southern) ‘Cotton’ Whigs being for it. As slavery became a more divisive issue in the run up to the civil war, the Whigs were unable to agree. Their support for the compromise of 1850 alienated their abolitionist wing, and their lack of a strong stance on slavery caused the Party to quickly decline in popularity after 1854. Many Northern Whigs became Republicans while many Southern Whigs became Constitutional Unionists. The Party officially dissolved in 1860.

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