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The Whigs were a
political faction A political faction is a group of individuals that share a common political purpose but differs in some respect to the rest of the entity. A faction within a group or political party may include fragmented sub-factions, "parties within a party," ...
and then a
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
in the parliaments of
England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...
,
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Tele ...
,
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...
,
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in ...
and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
. Between the 1680s and 1850s, the Whigs contested power with their rivals, the
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between ...
. The Whigs merged into the new
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
in the 1850s, though some Whig aristocrats left the Liberal Party in 1886 to form the
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshi ...
, which merged into the Liberals' rival, the modern day
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
, in 1912. The Whigs began as a political faction that opposed
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of in which the holds supreme authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, , or customs. These are often . In contrast, in , the 's authority derives from or is legally ...
and supported
constitutional monarchism A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. ...
and a
parliamentary system A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ...
. They played a central role in the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the
Stuart kings and pretenders
Stuart kings and pretenders
, who were Roman Catholic. The period known as the Whig Supremacy (1715–1760) was enabled by the
Hanoverian succession The Act of Settlement is an Acts of the Parliament of England, Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the order of succession, succession to the List of English monarchs, English and List of Irish monarchs, Irish cro ...
of
George IGeorge I or 1 may refer to: People * Patriarch George I of Alexandria (floruit, fl. 621–631) * George I of Constantinople (d. 686) * George I of Antioch (d. 790) * George I of Abkhazia (ruled 872/3–878/9) * George I of Georgia (d. 1027) * Yuri D ...
in 1714 and the failed
Jacobite rising of 1715 The Jacobite rising of 1715 ( gd, Bliadhna Sheumais ; or 'the Fifteen') was the attempt by James Francis Edward Stuart, James Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) to regain the thrones of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland ...
by Tory rebels. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local political offices. The first great leader of the Whigs was
Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Brit ...

Robert Walpole
, who maintained control of the government from 1721 to 1742, and whose protégé,
Henry Pelham Henry Pelham (25 September 1694 – 6 March 1754) was a British Whig statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1743 until his death in 1754. He was the younger brother of Thomas Pelham-Ho ...

Henry Pelham
, led the government from 1743 to 1754. The Whigs remained totally dominant until
King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the ...

King George III
, who came to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. But the Whig Party’s hold on power remained strong for many years thereafter. Thus historians have called the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the “age of the Whig oligarchy.” By 1784, both the Whigs and Tories had become formal political parties, with
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox (24 January 1749 – 13 September 1806), styled ''The Honourable'' from 1762, was a prominent British British Whig Party, Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. H ...
becoming the leader of a reconstituted Whig party arrayed against the governing party of the new Tories led by
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a prominent Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism ...

William Pitt the Younger
. The foundation of both parties depended more on the support of wealthy politicians than on popular votes. Although there were elections to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...
, only a few men controlled most of the voters. Both parties slowly evolved during the 18th century. In the beginning, the Whig Party generally tended to support the
aristocratic Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The term derives from the Greek ''aristokrat ...
families, the continued disenfranchisement of Catholics and toleration of nonconformist Protestants (
dissenters A dissenter (from the Latin ''dissentire'', "to disagree") is one who dissents (disagrees) in matters of opinion, belief, etc. Usage in Christianity Dissent from the Anglican church In the social and religious history of England and Wales, and, b ...
such as the Presbyterians), while the Tories generally favoured the minor
gentry Gentry (from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gal ...
and people who were ( relatively speaking) smallholders; they also supported the legitimacy of a strongly established
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a List of Christian denominations, Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior clergy, cleric, although the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, mona ...
. (The so-called
High Tories High Toryism is a term used in Britain, and elsewhere, to refer to old traditionalist conservatism which is in line with the Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionali ...
preferred
high church The term ''high church'' refers to beliefs and practices of Christian , , and that emphasize formality and resistance to modernisation. Although used in connection with various , the term originated in and has been principally associated with th ...
elements, and some of them supported the exiled Stuarts' claim to the throne—-a position known as
Jacobitism Jacobitism (; gd, Seumasachas, ; ga, Seacaibíteachas, ) was a largely 17th- and 18th-century movement that supported the restoration of the senior line of the House of Stuart to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, British throne. The name i ...
). Later, the Whigs came to draw support from the emerging industrial reformists and mercantile class while the Tories came to draw support from farmers, landowners, royalists and (relatedly) those who favoured imperial military spending. By the first half of the 19th century, the Whig programme had come to encompass the
supremacy of parliament Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracy, parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislature, legislative body has absolute ...

supremacy of parliament
,
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and service ...
, the abolition of slavery, the expansion of the franchise (suffrage) and an acceleration of the move toward complete equal rights for Catholics (a reversal of the party's late-17th-century position, which had been sharply anti-Catholic).


Name

The term ''Whig'' began as a short form of '' whiggamore'', a term originally used by people in the north of England to refer to cattle drivers from western Scotland who came to
Leith Leith (; gd, Lìte) is a port area in the north of the city of Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part ...

Leith
to buy corn (the Scottish cattle drivers would call out "Chuig" or "Chuig an bothar"—meaning "away" or "to the road"—this sounded to the English like “Whig,” and they came to use the word "Whig" or "Whiggamore" derisively to refer to these people). During the
English Civil WarsThis is a list of civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...
, when Charles I reigned, the term “Whig” was picked up and used by the English to refer derisively to a radical faction of the Scottish
Covenanter Covenanters ( gd, Cùmhnantaich) were members of a 17th-century Scottish religious and political movement, who supported a Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the primacy of its leaders in religious affairs. The name derived from '' Covenant' ...
s who called themselves the
Kirk Party The Kirk Party were a radical Presbyterian faction of the Scotland, Scottish Covenanters during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. They came to the fore after the defeat of the Engagers faction in 1648 at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and the Engli ...
(see the
Whiggamore Raid The Whiggamore Raid (or "March of the Whiggamores") was a march on Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of th ...
). It was later applied to Scottish Presbyterian rebels who were against the king's
Episcopalian Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; th ...
order in Scotland. The word ''Whig'' entered English political discourse during the
Exclusion Bill The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1679 until 1681 in the reign of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. Three Exclusion bills sought to exclude the King's brother and heir presumptive, James II of England, James, Duke of York, from the th ...
crisis of 1678–1681: there was controversy about whether King Charles II's brother, James, should be allowed to succeed to the throne on Charles's death, and ''Whig'' became a term of abuse applied to those who wanted to exclude James on the grounds that he was a Roman Catholic. (
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asses ...
, a fervent
Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, ...
, often joked that "the first Whig was the Devil".) In his six-volume history of England,
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
wrote:


Origins


Exclusion Crisis

Under Lord Shaftesbury's leadership, the Whigs in the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of the Magna Carta, which established the rights of ba ...
wished to exclude the Duke of York (who later became King James II) from the throne due to his Roman Catholicism, his favouring of monarchical absolutism, and his connections to France. They believed the heir presumptive, if allowed to inherit the throne, would endanger the Protestant religion, liberty and property. The first Exclusion Bill was supported by a substantial majority on its second reading in May 1679. In response,
King Charles
King Charles
prorogued Parliament and then dissolved it, but the subsequent elections in August and September saw the Whigs' strength increase. This new parliament did not meet for thirteen months, because Charles wanted to give passions a chance to die down. When it met in October 1680, an Exclusion Bill was introduced and passed in the Commons without major resistance, but was rejected in the Lords. Charles dissolved Parliament in January 1681, but the Whigs did not suffer serious losses in the ensuing election. The next Parliament first met in March at Oxford, but Charles dissolved it after only a few days, when he made an appeal to the country against the Whigs and determined to rule without Parliament. In February, Charles had made a deal with the French King
Louis XIV , house = House of Bourbon, Bourbon , father = Louis XIII, Louis XIII of France , mother = Anne of Austria , birth_date = , birth_place = Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Kingdom of France, F ...

Louis XIV
, who promised to support him against the Whigs. Without Parliament, the Whigs gradually crumbled, mainly due to government repression following the discovery of the
Rye House Plot The Rye House Plot of 1683 was a plan to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother (and heir to the throne) James II of England, James, Duke of York. The royal party went from Westminster to Newmarket, Suffolk, Newmarket to see horse ...

Rye House Plot
. The Whig peers, the
Earl of Melville Image:1st Earl of Melville.jpg, 200px, George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville. Earl of Melville is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1690 for the Scottish soldier and statesman George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville, George Melvill ...
, the
Earl of Leven Earl of Leven (pronounced "''Lee''-ven") is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1641 for Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven, Alexander Leslie. He was succeeded by his grandson Alexander, who was in turn followed by his daughters ...
, and
Lord Shaftesbury Earl of Shaftesbury is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1672 for Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Baron Ashley, a prominent politician in the Cabal Ministry, Cabal then dominating the ...
, and Charles II's illegitimate son the
Duke of Monmouth Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of Royal family, royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, th ...
, being implicated, fled to and regrouped in the United Provinces.
Algernon Sidney Algernon Sidney or Sydney (15 January 1623 – 7 December 1683) was an English politician and member of the middle part of the Long Parliament. A republican political theorist, colonel, and commissioner of the trial of King Charles I of Englan ...

Algernon Sidney
,
Sir Thomas Armstrong Sir Thomas Armstrong (c. 1633 Nijmegen – 20 June 1684 London) was an English army officer and Member of Parliament executed for treason.Richard L. Greaves, ‘Armstrong, Sir Thomas (bap. 1633, d. 1684)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biogr ...
and
William Russell, Lord Russell William Russell, Lord Russell (29 September 163921 July 1683), was an English politician. He was a leading member of the Country Party, forerunners of the British Whig Party, Whigs, who during the reign of Charles II of England, King Charles II ...
, were executed for treason. The
Earl of Essex Earl of Essex is a title in the Peerage of England The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union 1707, Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Peerage of Sc ...
committed suicide in the Tower of London over his arrest for treason, whilst Lord Grey of Werke escaped from the Tower.


Glorious Revolution

After the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
of 1688, Queen
Mary II Mary II (30 April 166228 December 1694) was Queen of England, Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Gr ...

Mary II
and King
William III
William III
governed with both Whigs and
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between ...
, despite the fact that many of the Tories still supported the deposed Roman Catholic
James II James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701An assertion found in many sources that James died 6 September 1701 (17 September 1701 New Style) may result from a miscalculation done by an author of anonymou ...

James II
. William saw that the Tories were generally friendlier to royal authority than the Whigs and he employed both groups in his government. His early ministry was largely Tory, but gradually the government came to be dominated by the so-called Junto Whigs, a group of younger Whig politicians who led a tightly organised political grouping. The increasing dominance of the Junto led to a split among the Whigs, with the so-called Country Whigs seeing the Junto as betraying their principles for office. The Country Whigs, led by Robert Harley, gradually merged with the Tory opposition in the later 1690s.Keith Feiling, ''A History of the Tory Party, 1640–1714'', (1924)


History


18th century

Although William's successor
Anne Anne, alternatively spelled Ann, is a form of the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...

Anne
had considerable Tory sympathies and excluded the Junto Whigs from power, after a brief and unsuccessful experiment with an exclusively Tory government she generally continued William's policy of balancing the parties, supported by her moderate Tory ministers, the
Duke of Marlborough General (United Kingdom), General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, (26 May 1650 – 16 June 1722 Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.) was an Englis ...

Duke of Marlborough
and Lord Godolphin. However, as the
War of the Spanish Succession The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was an early-18th-century European war, triggered by the death in November 1700 of the childless Charles II of Spain Charles II of Spain (6 November 1661 – 1 November 1700), also known as The ...
went on and became less and less popular with the Tories, Marlborough and Godolphin were forced to rely more and more on the Junto Whigs, so that by 1708 they headed an administration of the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to ma ...
dominated by the Junto. Anne herself grew increasingly uncomfortable with this dependence on the Whigs, especially as her personal relationship with the
Duchess of Marlborough
Duchess of Marlborough
deteriorated. This situation also became increasingly uncomfortable to many of the non-Junto Whigs, led by the
Duke of Somerset Duke of Somerset, from the county of Somerset Somerset (; Archaism, archaically Somersetshire) is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, D ...

Duke of Somerset
and the Duke of Shrewsbury, who began to intrigue with Robert Harley's Tories. In the spring of 1710, Anne dismissed Godolphin and the Junto ministers, replacing them with Tories. The Whigs now moved into opposition and particularly decried the 1713
Treaty of Utrecht The Peace of Utrecht was a series of signed by the belligerents in the , in the Dutch city of between April 1713 and February 1715. The war involved three contenders for the vacant throne of Spain, and involved much of Europe for over a dec ...

Treaty of Utrecht
, which they attempted to block through their majority in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. The Tory administration led by Harley and the
Viscount Bolingbroke Viscount Bolingbroke is a current title in the Peerage of Great Britain created in 1712 for Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, Henry St John. He was simultaneously made Baron St John, of Lydiard Tregoze in the Wiltshire, County of Wilts. Sinc ...

Viscount Bolingbroke
persuaded the Queen to create twelve new Tory peers to force the treaty through.


Liberal ideals

The Whigs primarily advocated the supremacy of Parliament, while calling for toleration for Protestant dissenters. They adamantly opposed a Catholic as king. They opposed the Catholic Church because they saw it as a threat to liberty, or as the
Pitt the Elder William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, ...
stated: "The errors of Rome are rank idolatry, a subversion of all civil as well as religious liberty, and the utter disgrace of reason and of human nature". Ashcraft and Goldsmith (1983) have traced in detail, in the period 1689 to 1710, the major influence of the liberal political ideas of
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism Liberalism is a ...

John Locke
on Whig political values, as expressed in widely cited manifestos such as "Political Aphorisms: or, the True Maxims of Government Displayed", an anonymous pamphlet that appeared in 1690 and was widely cited by Whigs. The 18th-century Whigs borrowed the concepts and language of universal rights employed by political theorists Locke and
Algernon Sidney Algernon Sidney or Sydney (15 January 1623 – 7 December 1683) was an English politician and member of the middle part of the Long Parliament. A republican political theorist, colonel, and commissioner of the trial of King Charles I of Englan ...

Algernon Sidney
(1622–1682). By the 1770s the ideas of
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
, a founder of
classical liberalism Classical liberalism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosopher ...
became important. As Wilson and Reill (2004) note: "Adam Smith's theory melded nicely with the liberal political stance of the Whig Party and its middle-class constituents".
Samuel Johnson Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709  – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic A critic is a person who communicates an asses ...
(1709–1784), a leading London intellectual, repeatedly denigrated the "vile" Whigs and praised the Tories, even during times of Whig political supremacy. In his great ''Dictionary'' (1755), Johnson defined a Tory as "one who adheres to the ancient Constitution of the state and the apostolical hierarchy of the Church of England, opposed to a Whig". He linked 18th-century
Whiggism Whiggism (in North America sometimes spelled Whigism) is a political philosophy that grew out of the Roundhead, Parliamentarian faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651). The Whigs' key policy positions were the Parliamentary sover ...
with 17th-century revolutionary Puritanism, arguing that the Whigs of his day were similarly inimical to the established order of church and state. Johnson recommended that strict uniformity in religious externals was the best antidote to the objectionable religious traits that he linked to Whiggism.


Protectionism

At their inception, the Whigs were
protectionist Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
in economic policy, with
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and service ...
policies being advocated by Tories. The Whigs were opposed to the pro-French policies of the Stuart kings Charles II and James II as they believed that such an alliance with the Catholic
absolute monarchy Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of in which the holds supreme authority, principally not being restricted by written laws, , or customs. These are often . In contrast, in , the 's authority derives from or is legally ...
of France endangered liberty and Protestantism. The Whigs claimed that trade with France was bad for England and developed an economic theory of overbalance, that is a deficit of trade with France was bad because it would enrich France at England's expense. In 1678, the Whigs passed the Prohibition of 1678 that banned certain French goods from being imported into England. The economic historian William Ashley claimed that this Act witnessed the "real starting-point in the history of Whig policy in the matter of trade". It was repealed upon the accession of James II by a Tory-dominated House of Commons but upon the accession of William III in 1688 a new Act was passed that prohibited the importation of French goods. In 1704, the Whigs passed the Trade with France Act that renewed protectionism against France. In 1710, Queen Anne appointed the predominantly Tory Harley Ministry, which favoured free trade. When the Tory minister Lord Bolingbroke proposed a commercial treaty with France in 1713 that would have led to freer trade, the Whigs were vehemently against it and it had to be abandoned. In 1786, Pitt's government negotiated the Eden Agreement, a commercial treaty with France which led to freer trade between the two countries. All of the Whig leaders attacked this on traditional Whig anti-French and protectionist grounds. Fox claimed that France was England's natural enemy and that it was only at Britain's expense that she could grow.
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title= ...
,
Richard Sheridan Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan (30 October 17517 July 1816) was an Irish satirist, a playwright, poet, and long-term owner of the London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city o ...

Richard Sheridan
,
William Windham William Windham (4 June 1810) of Felbrigg Hall Felbrigg Hall is a 17th-century English country house near Felbrigg, the village of that name in Norfolk. Part of a National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, National T ...
and Charles Grey all spoke out against the trade agreement on the same grounds. Ashley claimed that " e traditional policy of the Whig party from before the Revolution f 1688down to the time of Fox was an extreme form of Protectionism". The Whigs' protectionism of this period is today increasingly cited with approval by heterodox economists such as
Ha-Joon Chang Ha-joon is a Korean masculine given name. Its meaning depends on the hanja Hanja (, , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Traditional Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used si ...
, who wish to challenge contemporary prevailing free trade orthodoxies via precedents from the past. Later on, they came to oppose the protectionism of the
Corn Laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (plural people or per ...
.


Whig supremacy

With the succession of Elector George Louis of
Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German States of Germany, state of Lower Saxony. Its 534,049 (2020) inhabitants make it the List of cities in Germany by population, 13th-largest city in Germa ...
as king in 1714, the Whigs returned to government with the support of some Hanoverian Tories. The
Jacobite rising of 1715 The Jacobite rising of 1715 ( gd, Bliadhna Sheumais ; or 'the Fifteen') was the attempt by James Francis Edward Stuart, James Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender) to regain the thrones of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland ...
discredited much of the Tories (British political party), Tory party as treasonous Jacobitism, Jacobites, and the Septennial Act 1716, Septennial Act ensured that the Whigs became the dominant party, establishing the Whig Oligarchy. Between 1717 and 1720 the Whig Split led to a division in the party. Government Whigs led by the former soldier James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, James Stanhope were opposed by
Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Brit ...

Robert Walpole
and his allies. While Stanhope was backed by George I, Walpole and his supporters were closer to the George II of Great Britain, Prince of Wales. Following his success in defeating the government over the Peerage Bill in 1719, Walpole was invited back into government the following year. He was able to defend the government in the Commons when the South Sea Company, South Sea Bubble collapsed. When Stanhope died unexpectedly in 1721, Walpole replaced him as leader of the government and became known as the first Prime Minister. In the 1722 British general election, 1722 general election the Whigs swept to a decisive victory. Between 1714 and 1760, the Tories struggled as an active political force, but always retained a considerable presence in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons. The governments of Walpole,
Henry Pelham Henry Pelham (25 September 1694 – 6 March 1754) was a British Whig statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1743 until his death in 1754. He was the younger brother of Thomas Pelham-Ho ...

Henry Pelham
and his older brother the Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, Duke of Newcastle dominated between 1721 and 1757 (with a brief break during the also-Whig Carteret ministry). The leading entities in these governments consistently referred to themselves as "Whigs".


George III's accession

This arrangement changed during the reign of George III of Great Britain, George III, who hoped to restore his own power by freeing himself from the great Whig magnates. Thus George promoted his old tutor John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, Lord Bute to power and broke with the old Whig leadership surrounding the Duke of Newcastle. After a decade of factional chaos, with distinct Bedfordite, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Chathamite, Grenvillite and Rockingham Whigs, Rockinghamite and factions successively in power and all referring to themselves as "Whigs", a new system emerged with two separate opposition groups. The Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Rockingham Whigs claimed the mantle of Old Whigs as the purported successors of the party of the Pelhams and the great Whig families. With such noted intellectuals as
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title= ...
behind them, the Rockingham Whigs laid out a philosophy which for the first time extolled the virtues of faction, or at least their faction. The other group were the followers of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Lord Chatham, who as the great political hero of the Seven Years' War generally took a stance of opposition to party and faction. The Whigs were opposed by the government of Frederick North, Lord North, Lord North which they accused of being a Tory administration. While it largely consisted of individuals previously associated with the Whigs, many old Pelhamites as well as the Bedfordite Whig faction formerly led by the John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, Duke of Bedford and elements of that which had been led by George Grenville, it also contained elements of the Kings' Men, the group formerly associated with Lord Bute and which was generally seen as Tory-leaning.


American impact

The association of Toryism with Lord North's government was also influential in the American colonies and writings of British political commentators known as the Radical Whigs did much to stimulate colonial Republicanism in the United States, republican sentiment. Early activists in the Thirteen Colonies, colonies called themselves Whigs, seeing themselves as in alliance with the political opposition in Britain, until they turned to independence and started emphasising the label Patriot (American Revolution), Patriots. In contrast, the American Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalists, who supported the monarchy, were consistently also referred to as Tories. Later, the Whig Party (United States), United States Whig Party was founded in 1833 and focused on opposition to a strong presidency just as the British Whigs had opposed a strong monarchy. The True Whig Party, which for a century dominated Liberia, was named for the American party rather than directly for the British one.


Two-party system

Dickinson reports the following: The North administration left power in March 1782 following the American Revolution and a coalition of the Rockingham Whigs and the former Chathamites, now led by the William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Earl of Shelburne, took its place. After Rockingham's unexpected death in July 1782, this uneasy coalition fell apart, with
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox (24 January 1749 – 13 September 1806), styled ''The Honourable'' from 1762, was a prominent British British Whig Party, Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. H ...
, Rockingham's successor as faction leader, quarrelling with Shelburne and withdrawing his supporters from the government. The following Shelburne administration was short-lived and Fox returned to power in April 1783, this time in an unexpected coalition with his old enemy Lord North. Although this pairing seemed unnatural to many at the time, it was to last beyond the demise of the coalition in December 1783. The coalition's untimely fall was brought about by George III in league with the House of Lords and the King now brought in Chatham's son
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a prominent Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism ...

William Pitt the Younger
as his prime minister. It was only now that a genuine two-party system can be seen to emerge, with Pitt and the government on the one side, and the ousted Fox-North coalition on the other. On 17 December 1783, Fox stated in the House of Commons that "[i]f [...] a change must take place, and a new ministry is to be formed and supported, not by the confidence of this House or the public, but the sole authority of the Crown, I, for one, shall not envy that hon. gentleman his situation. From that moment I put in my claim for a monopoly of Whig principles". Although Pitt is often referred to as a Tory and Fox as a Whig, Pitt always considered himself to be an independent Whig and generally opposed the development of a strict partisan political system. Fox's supporters saw themselves as legitimate heirs of the Whig tradition and they strongly opposed Pitt in his early years in office, notably during the regency crisis revolving around the King's temporary insanity in 1788–1789, when Fox and his allies supported full powers as regent for their ally, the Prince of Wales. The opposition Whigs were split by the onset of the French Revolution. While Fox and some younger members of the party such as Charles Grey and Richard Brinsley Sheridan were sympathetic to the French revolutionaries, others led by
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title= ...
were strongly opposed. Although Burke himself was largely alone in defecting to Pitt in 1791, much of the rest of the party, including the influential House of Lords leader the William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, Duke of Portland, Rockingham's nephew William Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord Fitzwilliam and
William Windham William Windham (4 June 1810) of Felbrigg Hall Felbrigg Hall is a 17th-century English country house near Felbrigg, the village of that name in Norfolk. Part of a National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, National T ...
, were increasingly uncomfortable with the flirtations of Fox and his allies with radicalism and the French Revolution. They split in early 1793 with Fox over the question of support for the war with France and by the end of the year they had openly broken with Fox. By the summer of the next year, large portions of the opposition had defected and joined Pitt's government.


19th century

Many of the Whigs who had joined with Pitt would eventually return to the fold, joining again with Fox in the Ministry of All the Talents following Pitt's death in 1806. The followers of Pitt—led until 1809 by Fox's old colleague the Duke of Portland—rejected the label of Tories and preferred to call themselves Pittite, The Friends of Mr. Pitt. After the fall of the Talents ministry in 1807, the Foxite Whigs remained out of power for the better part of 25 years. The accession of Fox's old ally, the Prince of Wales, to the regency in 1811 did not change the situation, as the Prince had broken entirely with his old Foxite Whig companions. The members of the government of Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, Lord Liverpool from 1812 to 1827 called themselves Whigs.


Structure and appeal

By 1815, the Whigs were still far from being a "party" in the modern sense. They had no definite programme or policy and were by no means even united. Generally, they stood for reducing crown patronage, sympathy towards Nonconformist (Protestantism), nonconformists, support for the interests of merchants and bankers and a leaning towards the idea of a limited reform of the voting system. Most Whig leaders, such as Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Lord Grey, Lord Grenville, Lord Althorp, William Lamb (later Lord Melbourne) and Lord John Russell, were still rich landowners. The most prominent exception was Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Henry Brougham, the talented lawyer, who had a relatively modest background. Hay argues that Whig leaders welcomed the increasing political participation of the English middle classes in the two decades after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. The fresh support strengthened their position in Parliament. Whigs rejected the Tory appeals to governmental authority and social discipline and extended political discussion beyond Parliament. Whigs used a national network of newspapers and magazines as well as local clubs to deliver their message. The press organised petitions and debates and reported to the public on government policy, while leaders such as Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Henry Brougham (1778–1868) built alliances with men who lacked direct representation. This new approach to the grass roots helped to define Whiggism and opened the way for later success. Whigs thereby forced the government to recognise the role of public opinion in parliamentary debate and influenced views of representation and reform throughout the 19th century.


Return to power

Whigs restored their unity by supporting moral reforms, especially the abolition of slavery. They triumphed in 1830 as champions of Parliamentary reform. They made Lord Grey prime minister 1830–1834 and the Reform Act 1832 championed by Grey became their signature measure. It broadened the franchise and ended the system of "rotten and pocket boroughs" (where elections were controlled by powerful families) and instead redistributed power on the basis of population. It added 217,000 voters to an electorate of 435,000 in England and Wales. Only the upper and middle classes voted, so this shifted power away from the landed aristocracy to the urban middle classes. In 1832, the party abolished enslavement in the British Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. It purchased and freed the slaves, especially those in the Caribbean sugar islands. After parliamentary investigations demonstrated the horrors of child labour, limited reforms were passed in 1833. The Whigs also passed the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 that reformed the administration of relief to the poor. It was around this time that the great Whig historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay began to promulgate what would later be coined the Whig history, Whig view of history, in which all of English history was seen as leading up to the culminating moment of the passage of Lord Grey's reform bill. This view led to serious distortions in later portrayals of 17th-century and 18th-century history, as Macaulay and his followers attempted to fit the complex and changing factional politics of the English Restoration, Restoration into the neat categories of 19th-century political divisions. In 1836, a private gentleman's Club was constructed in Pall Mall, London, Pall Mall, Piccadilly as a consequence of the successful Reform Act 1832. The Reform Club was founded by Edward Ellice Sr., Member of Parliament, MP for Coventry and Whig Whip (politics), Whip, whose riches came from the Hudson's Bay Company but whose zeal was chiefly devoted to securing the passage of the Reform Act 1832. This new club, for members of both Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Parliament, was intended to be a forum for the Political radicalism, radical ideas which the First Reform Bill represented: a bastion of liberal and progressive thought that became closely associated with the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
, who largely succeeded the Whig Party (UK), Whigs in the second half of the 19th century. Until the decline of the Liberal Party in the early 20th century, it was ''de rigueur'' for Liberal MPs and peers to be members of the Reform Club, being regarded as an unofficial party headquarters. However, in 1882 the National Liberal Club was established under William Ewart Gladstone's chairmanship, designed to be more "inclusive" towards Liberal grandees and activists throughout the United Kingdom.


Transition to the Liberal Party

The
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
(the term was first used officially in 1868, but had been used colloquially for decades beforehand) arose from a coalition of Whigs,
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and service ...
Tory followers of Robert Peel and free trade Radicals (UK), Radicals, first created, tenuously under the Peelite George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, Earl of Aberdeen in 1852 and put together more permanently under the former Canningite Tory Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, Lord Palmerston in 1859. Although the Whigs at first formed the most important part of the coalition, the Whiggish elements of the new party progressively lost influence during the long leadership of the former Peelite William Ewart Gladstone and many of the old Whig aristocrats broke from the party over the issue of Irish home rule in 1886 to help form the
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshi ...
, which in turn would merge with the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
by 1912. However, the Unionist support for trade protection in the early twentieth century under Joseph Chamberlain (probably the least Whiggish character in the Liberal Unionist party) further alienated the more orthodox Whigs. By the early twentieth century "Whiggery" was largely irrelevant and without a natural political home. One of the last active politicians to celebrate his Whiggish roots was the Liberal Unionist statesman Henry James, 1st Baron James of Hereford, Henry James.


In popular culture

"The British Whig March" for piano was written by Oscar Telgmann in Kingston, Ontario, c. 1900. The colours of the Whig party (blue and Buff (colour), buff, a yellow-brown colour named after buff leather) were particularly associated with
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox (24 January 1749 – 13 September 1806), styled ''The Honourable'' from 1762, was a prominent British British Whig Party, Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. H ...
. Poet Robert Burns in "Here's a health to them that's awa" wrote:''Notes and queries'' (1856) Volume 13, p. 269. Steampunk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have a song named "Doing It for the Whigs".


Electoral performance


Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of the Magna Carta, which established the rights of ba ...


Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to ma ...


Parliament of the United Kingdom


See also

* Early-18th-century Whig plots * Foxite * King of Clubs (Whig club) * Kingdom of Great Britain * List of United Kingdom Whig and allied party leaders, 1801–1859, List of United Kingdom Whig and allied party leaders (1801–1859) * Patriot Whigs * Whig government * Whig party (United States)


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * Elofson, Warren M. ''The Rockingham Connection and the Second Founding of the Whig Party 1768–1773'' (1996). * Fairlie, Henry. "Oratory in Political Life," ''History Today'' (Jan 1960) 10#1 pp 3–13. A survey of political oratory in Britain from 1730 to 1960. * Feiling, Keith; ''A History of the Tory Party, 1640–1714'', 192
online edition
* Feiling, Keith; ''The Second Tory Party, 1714–1832'', 193
online edition
* Forbes, Suzanne. "Whigs and Tories, 1709–1712." in''Print and Party Politics in Ireland, 1689-1714'' (Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2018) pp. 195–227. * * * Holmes, Geoffrey. "British Politics in the Age of Anne" (2nd ed. 1987). * Jones; J. R. ''The First Whigs: The Politics of the Exclusion Crisis, 1678–1683'', 196
online edition
* R. B. McCallum, McCallum; Ronald Buchanan. ''The Liberal Party from Earl Grey to Asquith'' (1963). * Dorothy Marshall (historian), Marshall, Dorothy. ''Eighteenth Century England'' (1962
online
A standard scholarly history. * * * O'Gorman, Frank. ''Voters, patrons, and parties: the unreformed electoral system of Hanoverian England 1734–1832'' (Clarendon Press, 1989). * Plumb, J.H. ''Growth of Political Stability in England 1675–1725'' (2001). * Reid; Loren Dudley. ''Charles James Fox: A Man for the People'', 196
online edition
* Roszman, Jay R. "‘Ireland as a Weapon of Warfare’: Whigs, Tories, and the Problem of Irish Outrages, 1835 To 1839." ''Historical Journal'' 60.4 (2017): 971-995. * Speck, W. A. ''Stability and Strife: England, 1714–1760'' (1977), A standard scholarly history. * Trevelyan, George Otto. ''The Early History of Charles James Fox'' (1880
online edition
* Basil Williams (historian), Williams, Basil, and C. H. Stuart; ''The Whig Supremacy, 1714–1760'' (1962
online edition
A standard scholarly survey * Willman, Robert. "The Origins of 'Whig' and 'Tory' in English Political Language." ''Historical Journal'' 17, no. 2 (1974): 247-64
online
* Woodward; E. L. ''The Age of Reform, 1815–1870'', 193
online edition
A standard scholarly stream.


Historiography

* Hill, Brain W. "II. Executive Monarchy and the Challenge of Parties, 1689–1832: Two Concepts of Government and Two Historiographical Interpretations." ''The Historical Journal'' (1970) 13#3 pp: 379–401
abstract
* Hone, Joseph. "John Darby and the Whig Canon." ''Historical Journal'' 1-24
online
* Loades, David ed. ''Readers Guide to British History'' (2003) 2:1353–56. * Pocock, J. G. A. "The varieties of whiggism from exclusion to reform: a history of ideology and discourse", in ''Virtue, commerce, and history: essays on political thought and history, chiefly in the eighteenth century'' (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 215–310; * Thomas, Peter D. G. "Party Politics in Eighteenth‐Century Britain: Some Myths and a Touch of Reality." ''Journal for Eighteenth‐Century Studies'' (1987) 10#2 pp. 201–210.


Primary sources

* Eagles, Robin. ''The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. General Editor Paul Langford. Volume IV: Party, Parliament, and the Dividing of the Whigs 1780–1794'' Edited by PJ Marshall and Donald C. Bryant. (Oxford University Press. 2015). xvi, 674 pp.


External links



{{DEFAULTSORT:Whig (British Political Party) Whigs (British political party), 1678 establishments in England Classical liberalism Defunct liberal political parties Defunct political parties in the United Kingdom Liberal parties in the United Kingdom Political history of Great Britain Political parties established in 1678 Political parties disestablished in 1859 Protestant political parties