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The Whigs and Their Party

In a sense, the Whigs were Jackson’s “myriad antagonists, some old, some new, some champions of the American System and others its erstwhile enemies”. (1) Politics can make strange bedfellows. Those that opposed Jackson found themselves as friends in politics. The leaders in this new party were William Henry Harrison, John Eaton, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay to name a few. The party started with “disaffected Jackson men” and those “who had credulously backed him [Jackson] and the American System in 1828” being the first to start congregating together and voice dissatisfaction with Jackson’s decisions. (2) If they were on the opposite side of Jackson, they found themselves as Whigs even if they once supported the President. There were no formal political stances for the Whig party as it did not have a “national convention, candidate, or platform” as of 1836. (3) It was a group of anti-Jacksonian people. That is what they had in common. After a more detailed look, historians can create a general collection of political concerns though they were more informal than the Democratic Party was. There was a general consensus aside from just being anti-Jackson on several issues. Many Whigs “espoused improvement under the fostering care of government” as well as a “less aggressive tariff” and a desire to follow the “plan of distributing land revenues to the states for internal improvement, schools, and black colonization in place of direct federal spending” as Henry Clay proposed. (4) Some wanted to “regulate currency and credit” while others were not too sure of such a stance. (5) They promoted advancements that went beyond economic and involved “moral and intellectual” advancements. (6) Whigs typically stood for everything Jackson and his followers did not. They wanted school systems designed and supported by the state. They also wanted a more “humane and just approach to Indian removal” and “principles of system and discipline.” (7) The end result was an appearance of piety that went beyond any other party that had ever loosely existed in the past.

(1) Daniel Feller, The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840, (Baltimore: John Hopkins, 1995), 184.
(2) Ibid, 186.
(3) Ibid, 187.
(4) Ibid, 187.
(5) Ibid, 187.
(6) Ibid, 187.
(7) Ibid, 187.

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