Early Whigs

 

Established in 1833, the Whigs are one of America's oldest mainstream political parties.

Whigs were the original party of Abraham Lincoln and four other U.S. Presidents, including New York-born Millard Fillmore.

The term "Whig" dates back 1648, when a group of Scottish rebels called the “Whiggamores” marched on Edinburgh to oppose the rule of King Charles I of England.

It was subsequently used by the English party that opposed King James II's hereditary ascension to the throne. English Whigs favored the power of Parliament, as the assembly of the people’s elected representatives, over that of the unelected and unaccountable Monarchy.

The American Whig Party was founded in opposition to the centralizing policies of President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837).  Jackson, a Democrat, sought to expand Executive power at the expense of Congress and favored the so-called “spoils system”, according to which government officials were appointed based on connections and party loyalty instead of merit.

In addition to opposing autocratic rule and cronyism, American Whigs advocated economic development through domestic manufacturing, federally-subsidized infrastructure projects, a national bank, protective tariffs and public education. 

Four U.S. Presidents were Whigs, two of whom had the misfortune of dying in office:

William Henry Harrison (1841), died in office

John Tyler (1841–1845)

Zachary Taylor (1849–1850), died in office

Millard Fillmore (1850–1853)

 

 William Henry Harrison

Millard Fillmore

Other Prominent Whig Leaders Included:

 

Henry Clay: Secretary of State (1825-1829), US Senator (1831-42 and 1849-52), Speaker of the House of Representatives (1811-14, 1815-20, 1823-25).  He was one of America's great orators and a founder of the Whigs.

Daniel Webster: Secretary of State (1841-42, 1850-52), US Senator (1827-41, 1845-50), and arguably America's greatest orator.

General Winfield Scott: 53-year military career (1808-1861), Commanding General of the US Army, Whig Party candidate for President in 1852.

John Quincy Adams: joined the Whigs in 1834, after serving as President (1825-1829) and Secretary of State (1817-1825), then served as Congressman until his death in 1848. An ardent opponent of slavery, he authored the Monroe Doctrine and famously declared that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy."

Abraham Lincoln: began his political career as a Whig Congressman (1846-48), ran for the US Senate as a Whig in 1854, described himself as late as 1861 as "an old-line Henry Clay Whig".  The rest is history!

By 1856, deep divisions over the issue of slavery caused the party to split apart. Most Northern Whigs including Lincoln joined the newly formed Republican Party, while Southern Whigs either joined the Democrats or gradually disappeared.

Tragically, the monumental upheaval that broke up the Whigs also tore apart American society and ultimately took Abraham Lincoln’s life in 1865.

 

 Daniel Webster

Abraham Lincoln

Modern Whigs

 

The Whig Party was revived as the Modern Whig Party in 2007 by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who, upon returning home, became disenchanted with the political gridlock and paralysis created by the entrenched two-party system.

The Modern Whigs are committed to a pragmatic, merit-based approach to problem solving that is neither clouded by ideological dogma, nor corrupted by special-interest money.

The Modern Whigs intend to be the party of moderate and independent voters from all walks of life whose interests have long been ignored. 

We are not seeking to become yet another “third party” that languishes on the fringes with an axe to grind or pushes an extremist ideology.  There already are many third, fourth and fifth parties of that kind.

Modern Whigs are building a great and lasting party of virtuous moderation that brings with it a new approach to politics and seeks to put an end to the “best government money can buy” once and for and for all! 

All over the country, Modern Whigs are organizing and preparing a new generation of capable, well-informed and incorruptible citizen-legislators who will not be bribed by money or fooled by propaganda into representing anything but the interests of the voters who elected them.

Our first victory at the polls came in November 2008, when one of our Alabama members named Ken Belcher was elected constable of Lee County, AL.

In December 2009, the Modern Whig Party's national leadership council held its first convention in Washington DC.