Chapter

“Now Is the Time to Start New; The Old Issues Are Gone”

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/9780195161045.003.0021
“Now Is the Time to Start New; The Old Issues Are Gone”

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The Whig party's own history after defeats in the presidential elections of 1836 and 1844 and the entire course of American political history demonstrate that outs can mount comebacks by exploiting the mistakes of the ins. Whig predictions, moreover, were largely accurate. During Franklin Pierce's administration, Democrats divided over patronage and policy, and they committed blunders that produced massive defeat at the polls. Whigs, however, did not reap the fruit of voters' backlash in the congressional elections of 1854–5 or in the 1856 presidential election. Although Whigs' reactions to the party's plight after the crushing defeats of 1852 differed, virtually all of them factored Democrats' imminent disruption into their calculations for the future. Thus, the Whig party's fate continued to be shaped by its interaction with the Democratic party. The central theme of 1853, in sum, was the search for new issues to fill the void that had emerged in 1852.

Keywords: Whig party; Franklin Pierce; Democratic party; patronage; policy; presidential elections

Chapter.  21412 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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