Chapter

“The Slavery Excitement Seems Likely to Obliterate Party Lines”

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/9780195161045.003.0014
“The Slavery Excitement Seems Likely to Obliterate Party Lines”

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The intensification of sectional squabbling over slavery extension proved an even more formidable obstacle to Zachary Taylor's hope of winning immediate statehood for California and New Mexico and thereby finessing the explosive Wilmot Proviso. This situation—a crippled president, a fractious and angry congressional party, a grave sectional crisis over the territories—thus presented an opportunity for Henry Clay to pursue a course that many had predicted from the day of his election to the Senate. As intraparty rivalries intensified, moreover, interparty conflict with Democrats, which had always counteracted those centrifugal forces in the past, weakened perceptibly. Whigs of all varieties—Northerners and Southerners, pro- and anti-administration men, compromisers and anticompromisers—found themselves compelled to cooperate with Democrats of some kind. Sectional divisions over slavery helped blur Whig party differences.

Keywords: Zachary Taylor; California; New Mexico; Wilmot Proviso; Henry Clay; election; slavery; Whig party; Democrats

Chapter.  34620 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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