“Confusion Worse Confounded”

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:
“Confusion Worse Confounded”

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Charles M. Conrad and George S. Bryan correctly perceived the fatal impact that northern Whigs' campaigns had on southern Whigs' allegiance to their old party. Outside of Wisconsin, Michigan, and perhaps Maine and Vermont, most northern Whigs, even in Indiana and Ohio, viewed the campaigns of 1854 as sui generis. They did not seek the creation of a permanent new northern party “based on merely sectional issues”—at least not in 1854. Instead, they hoped to resurrect disintegrating northern Whig organizations that year by exploiting anti-Nebraska, anti-slavery-extension sentiment to defeat the Democrats. Once they revivified the northern Whig party with those anticipated victories, they expected to rebuild bridges to southern Whig allies so the two sectional wings could rally again for the next presidential election. Nativism and prohibitionism produced an earthquake that confounded Whig expectations of a comeback on the Nebraska issue, transformed the political landscape, and caused “the dissolution of the Whig party” in all three states.

Keywords: Charles M. Conrad; George S. Bryan; Wisconsin; Michigan; Whig party; nativism; prohibitionism; dissolution

Chapter.  16566 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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