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

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

by Michael F. Holt

The political home of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Horace Greeley, and the young Abraham Lincoln, the American Whig Party was involved at every level of American politics--local, state, and federal--in the years before the Civil War, and controlled the White House for eight of the twenty-two years that it existed.

Now, in The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, Michael F.

In Michael Holt's hands, the history of the Whig Party becomes a political history of the United States during the tumultuous Antebellum period.

The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party is a magisterial work of history, one that has already been hailed by William Gienapp of Harvard as "one of the most important books on nineteenth-century politics ever written."

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.93
  • Pages: 1296
  • Publish Date: June 17th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA
  • Isbn10: 0195055446
  • Isbn13: 9780195055443

Read the Book "The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War" Online

Through thorough research from the national down to the state, county, and local levels Holt explored how the Whig party was planted and grew throughout the country and competed against their Democratic foes. With almost 1300 pages of text and notes, Holt thoroughly explored the 20 year history of the American Whig party from the national to the local level within every state of the Union.

I recently finished the tome I affectionately refer to as Dads Whig Book, Michael Holts The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party. For months now, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party has helped me usher in daybreak; and though now anxious to dive into supplementary reading to build on all Ive learned, Im gonna miss it. The Whig Partys tumultuous twenty plus years highlight the men and the political forces that led to sectionalism and finally war. One of the things I particularly liked was the detail with which Professor Holt delved into politics within the individual states and how the needs/demands of the states affected politics/political parties at the national level. Comparatively speaking there is less detail given to economic conditions and political corruption within both parties at the local, state, and national levels. I infer such corruption must have been rampant given the sudden rise of the Know-Nothings in the early 1850s and the havoc their no party philosophy created for both Whigs and Democrats. I loved the work, but though Professor Holt admits an admiration for the Whig Party, I do not. In his conclusion, Professor Holt alludes to his possibly being identified as a purveyor of the now discredited argument that a blundering generation of narrow-minded or misguided political leaders were the cause of the Civil War. I didn't know it had been discredited. In its cruderand more commonformulation, the forces that caused the war were self-generating and operated toward their inevitable conclusion almost without the need of human agency. Seriously, Professor Holts The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party leaves no doubt in my mind that selfish, hate-filled, and expedient politicians played a major role in causing the Civil Warnot that I believed differently when I started the book.

The book is over 1200 pages long (including extensive notes and index), so you really have to care about the Whigs to read it in its entirety.

Truth be told, this is my second time through this book, so it was more of a brush-up read than a thorough going-through had I just cracked the binding on it.

There's a lot here that's very interesting, but I feel, overall, that Holt missed his chance by focusing too much on highlighting data and examining state-by-state election returns, which he used to support certain conclusions that may be revisionist. But when your main thesis is that the Whigs' fortunes were always tied to actions taken by the Democrats (e.g., Texas annexation, the Mexican War or Kansas-Nebraska), isn't it worth stopping to examine what motivated those decisions in the first place? He points to specific decisions, made by political actors such as Tyler, Clay, Fillmore and Webster, that might have changed history had they been made differently (and speculates that Clay, four-time loser in presidential contests, would have won in 1840 if he had only been nominated, which also would have produced substantially different results).

This book is fascinating, but reading it is like eating sand.