\wˈɪɡz], \wˈɪɡz], \w_ˈɪ_ɡ_z]\
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The name of Whigs was taken by the party in the colonies which furthered the Revolution, because their principles were but the application to America of those principles which the Whigs of England had advocated, and had secured through the Revolution of 1688. In 1834 the name was revived. The Federal party had virtually come to an end about 1817. Henceforth all American politicians were simply Republicans. But, as will usually happen in such cases, a divergence of views developed itself within the party. Adams and Clay and their followers, on the one hand, advocated a policy of protection and federal internal improvements and a broad or loose construction of the Constitution. Others, on the other hand, construing the Constitution strictly, opposed these things; these found a leader in Jackson. The former took the name of "National Republicans." Adams was their candidate in 1828. After his defeat their chief leader was Clay, whom they nominated for President in 1831. Their opposition to Jackson drew to them various elements and, as opponents of executive usurpation, the coalition took the old name of Whigs (1834). The Whig body always formed rather a coalition than a party. They were united in opposition to Jackson, but the Northern Whigs favored the U.S. Bank, a protective tariff, etc., while the Southern Whigs were strict constructionists. In the election of 1836 these various elements supported various candidates. In that of 1840 they united upon the "available" Harrison, and triumphantly elected him and Tyler in a campaign of unthinking enthusiasm. Harrison died, and the Whigs quarreled violently with Tyler. In 1844 they nominated their real leader. Clay, who narrowly missed election. The annexation of Texas and the Mexican War and the Wilmot proviso now brought slavery to the front as the leading issue of politics. This was fatal to the Whigs, for it was sure to divide the Northern and the Southern Whigs. In 1848 they preserved themselves temporarily by passing over Clay and Webster and nominating a military candidate, Taylor. He was elected. But when similar tactics were tried in 1852 (with Scott), the party was decisively defeated. It was disintegrating because of its inability to maintain any opinion on slavery. The Northern Whigs became Free-soilers, and by 1856, Republicans; the Southern, Democrats. Many Whigs went temporarily into the American party. A small portion of them formed the Constitutional Union Party, which nominated Bell and Everett in 1860. Parties became sectional, and the Whig party ceased to exist. Its chief leaders were, beside those mentioned, in the North, Winthrop, Choate, Seward, Weed and Greeley; in the South, Mangum, Berrien, Forsyth, Stephens, Toombs, Prentiss and Crittenden; in the West, McLean, Giddings, Ewing and Corwin.
By John Franklin Jameson
(Eng. Hist.) The name of a political party, first employed in the time of Charles II., and afterwards assumed by those who were most active in placing William III. on the throne. The origin of the name is doubtful. Defoe refers it to a drink composed of water and sour milk ; Bishop Burnet to a word used in driving horses in Scotland, the drivers being hence called Whiggamores. See Abhorrers ; Tory.
By Henry Percy Smith