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The Rise and Fall of the American Whig PartyJacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War$
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Michael F. Holt

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161045

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161045.001.0001

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“Not Fitted to Make Converts”

“Not Fitted to Make Converts”

(p.1) Chapter 1 “Not Fitted to Make Converts”
The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party

Michael F. Holt

Oxford University Press

A Baltimore resident wrote in February 1844 about the impending presidential election to the son of the certain Whig standard bearer, Henry Clay of Kentucky. Their own unprecedented harmony, the Democrats' apparent disarray, and faith that they had the superior issues and candidate generated Whig confidence. Their missionary tone, the frequent use of words such as “righteousness” and “redemption”, however, derived from another aspect of the race. Clay's long years of frustration began before the creation of the Whig party in 1834. In 1824 and again in 1832 he ran for president, and each time he was soundly thrashed. That record of failure both stigmatized Clay as a loser and, ironically, made the formation of the Whig party both necessary and possible. To understand why and to identify the seeds from which the Whig party grew, a brief review of political developments between 1800 and 1832 is necessary.

Keywords:   Baltimore, Henry Clay, Democrats, Whig party, righteousness, redemption, presidential election

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