The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War

By Michael F. Holt | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 18
"Webster Is Now Engaged in Strenuous Efforts to Secure the Succession

"WHILE YOU AND I ARE TOGETHER . . . in the administration of the Government," Daniel Webster assured Millard Fillmore in October 1851, "that Administration will not be bi-faced, but will be one in principle and purpose." On most challenges confronting Fillmore's administration, the two men in fact saw eye to eye. They cooperated brilliantly to extinguish the fire over the Texas-New Mexico boundary and to secure passage of the Compromise. They shared a commitment to its finality. They completely agreed on Webster's nationalistic manifesto to Hülsemann and on the need for vigorous enforcement of both the Fugitive S-lave Act and the neutrality laws. 1

On two matters of critical political importance, however, Webster and Fillmore parted company, so much so that Webster's portrait of unanimity was disingenuous, if not wantonly hypocritical. The first concerned the administration's response to intraparty strife among northern Whigs. While Fillmore insisted that all the Compromise measures must be enforced and should be acknowledged as a permanent settlement, he sincerely hoped to reunite feuding Whigs and promote the party's success at the polls. He opposed massive, regionwide purges of anti- Compromise Whigs from federal jobs as suicidally destructive. To facilitate reunification, he tolerated intentionally vague platform statements about the Compromise so long as they did not explicitly repudiate it. To allies who threatened to sabotage factional rivals, he counseled forbearance and stressed the imperative of party loyalty. The passage of time, he appeared to believe, would heal all wounds, especially if Whigs could bury the hatchet and coalesce around a new agenda.

This patient, tolerant stance sorely exasperated Webster. Rather than conciliating anti-Compromise Whigs, he advocated total war against them. Where Fillmore hoped to bury disagreements over the Compromise and stress different issues on which all Whigs could agree, Webster demanded that northern Whig platforms explicitly endorse the Compromise for what he believed it was -- a crowning achievement of statesmanship, including his own, that was justified by the legitimate demands of the South and the need to preserve the Union from

-635-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 1248

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?