Chapter

“The Whig Party Seems Now Totally Broken Up and Dismembered”

Michael F. Holt

in The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195161045
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849635 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161045.003.0006
“The Whig Party Seems Now Totally Broken Up and Dismembered”

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The story of the first Whig presidential administration is a story of opportunity lost. Although it is a tale often told, most accounts have been biographical and have focused largely on personal rivalries among Whig party leaders in Washington. Historians have carefully delineated the early maneuvering by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster for the presidential nomination in 1844 and the subsequent conflict between Clay and John Tyler, who succeeded William Henry Harrison as president. Personal rivalry and the clash between the president and the congressional wing of the party have thus been seen as the dominant themes of that administration and as the major causes of the Whigs' downfall. Hence, not just personal rivalry for the presidency or factional battles over patronage or disagreements between the president and Congress upended the Whig party during its first presidential administration. The paralyzing effect of those divisions on the attempt to legislate policies did the most damage.

Keywords: Whig party; Henry Clay; Daniel Webster; John Tyler; William Henry Harrison; presidency; Congress

Chapter.  19845 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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