Origins of the Whig Party

By E. Malcolm Carroll | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
EXPEDIENCY VERSUS CONSISTENCY

"THE political parties which I style great are those which cling to principles rather than to their consequences; to general, and not to special cases; to ideas, and not to men . . . . America has had great parties, but she has them no longer."1De Tocqueville based this opinion upon his observations of American politics in 1831, but the appearance of the Whig party in 1834 in no sense lessened its pertinence. Principles had little part in the origins of the Whig party. Except for occasional periods of economic depression, the majority of voters were Democratic,2 and therefore, in order to have any prospect of success, the opposition to the Democrats developed as an alliance of all who were dissatisfied with the Democratic control of the

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1
Alexis C. de Tocqueville, Democracy in America ( Cambridge, 1873), I. p. 226.
2
Van Buren believed that "experience had satisfactorily demonstrated the fact that as to the two great parties which divided the country the spontaneous feelings of a large majority of the People were on our side; that whenever we were defeated the result could be traced to specific and extraneous causes. . . ." Van Buren, Autobiography, p. 222.

-171-

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Origins of the Whig Party
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter I - John Quincy Adams and the National Republican Party 1
  • Chapter II - The Campaign of 1832 29
  • Chapter III - The Crisis of 1833 71
  • Chapter IV - Party Strategy and New Leadership 118
  • Chapter V - Expediency Versus Consistency 171
  • Conclusions 221
  • Bibliography 228
  • Index 239
  • Appendix 259
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