Presidential History Blog

John Tyler

The Whig party wasn’t really a political party per se, in 1840.

It was more a conglomeration of frictional, factional and sectional needs and angsts, and would remain so for the rest of its short 12-year-run.

The frictional part centered around towering figures: Democrat Andrew Jackson and Jackson-loathing Henry Clay, both of whom had ardent adherents and bitter enemies. Jackson’s hand-picked successor, Democrat Martin Van Buren, inspired little affection.

henry clay Henry Clay

andrew jackson 1 Andrew Jackson

The factional part and the sectional part were frequently combined. Certain areas bellowed about “states’ rights.” Certain areas clamored for national financing for “internal improvements” like roads, and dredging harbors and rivers for navigation. Some favored industry and banking. Some were violently opposed. Some areas demanded high tariffs; others wanted no tariffs. Slavery “issues” were lower on the list at that time, but would rise substantially during the following decade.

William Henry Harrison, the first…

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