The Election of 1836...

It is a human thing that we do, to imagine that the times and circumstances we live in are fully unique and unprecedented. We look at the chaos of election 2016 and think that nothing has ever been so crazy.

We like to think these things…but we’re wrong if we do.

No, if you REALLY want crazy election seasons, the 19th Century is your huckleberry. Revivalist era, antebellum era, Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, take your pick, and you’ll find an absolutely bonkers election season.

(Marty Van Buren, winner of the election of 1836–spoilers!–and the guy this story really isn’t actually about.)

One that I want to focus on that seems to stand out from the others in many ways is the election of 1836. This was one for the books, and there are characters in it about whom a very good movie could be made. This was the election to succeed a very popular sitting president in Andrew Jackson. The guy who won the election, Martin Van Buren, is maybe the least-interesting part of the story.

But…I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s set some background up.

Let’s go back to 1824’s contentious election. It’s the end of an era back then, an era when Monroe was president and folks called it the “Era of Good Feelings”. In reality, it was pretty damned scary for American democracy. America was a one-party country, the Democratic Republicans. America was also kind of a one-state party at that point. We like to think of these early days of our country as some idealized birthplace of democracy, but in fact America pretty much had established a monarchy here. The Federalist party of John Adams crashed hard after 1800. Their tariffs and interstate trade fees were incredibly unpopular in the south, so much so that it was a foregone conclusion that a Virginian from the Democratic Republican party would win the Presidency. And of course, back then there were no primaries. The nominee was chosen. You may do the algebraic formula in your head that the sole party choosing its own nominee and that nominee being guaranteed the presidency is not really what you’d call anything like a choice of the voters.

(Two centuries before W’s boondoggle in Iraq, the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, ginned up his own stupid war for America to fight to a stalemate.)

(Jimmy Monroe, in charge of the War Department in 1812. Apparently having your capital conquered by a foreign invader was no impediment to landslide presidential victories!)

And so the office passed in succession from Jefferson to Madison to Monroe. It is a testament to just how far the country had fallen into single party doldrums that after the spectacular disaster of the War of 1812, the party who ginned it all up and the Secretary of War who prosecuted it got elected by a landslide in 1816…and then Monroe ran unopposed in 1820. Democracy! Yeah!

So yeah. I digress, badly. We were going to set up 1824, in preparation for 1836.

There’s one party, the Democratic Republicans. You get that nomination, you’re the President. Well…the way this had worked for Madison and Monroe is that they were prominent cabinet members in the prior administration, and were thus anointed and crowned. The person most likely to get that nod from Monroe was his veep, a guy named Daniel Tompkins. The reason you’ve never read about Daniel Tompkins’ presidency is that Mr. Tompkins was the Dick Cheney of his day, pretty much hated by everyone he came into contact with. Also, he was dying and bed-ridden, so there was that too.

1824 might be worth it’s own post, but to sum it up, there were four candidates running from the same party, and the guy who won didn’t have the plurality of the Electoral or popular vote. That was John Quincy Adams who won when the ellection went to the House. The guy who lost–but had the most popular and electoral votes–was Andrew Jackson, sort of the Donald Trump of his time.

When Jackson did win the presidency in 1828, he took the executive position and assumed new powers to it. This put him in constant conflict with the Supreme Court and Congress. It also created the powerful modern precedent of the US Presidency as we know it today. Jackson’s power consolidation was so complete, though, that it got him the title of “King Andrew the First” from his critics.

(King Andrew the First…or Donald Trump 1.0)

Those same critics realized that America’s one-party system was a disaster, and so the genteel mercantile folks in the south and the old Federalists and even folks building the new western frontier (basically what we’d call the Rust Belt today, plus Missouri and Wisconsin) formed the Whig Party. Now America was back to a two-party system!

Problem is, Jackson was popular as a president, and the Whigs didn’t have their stuff together in time to make the ballot in 1832. But they got it together for 1836, when Jackson had completed two terms and set minds at ease by announcing he’d not run again for a third.

So here we are…FINALLY ready to talk about the hilarious chaos of the 1836 election!

OK, so there’s this new party, The Whigs. And they’ve cast themselves as the anti-Jacksons. It turns out that in a large swath of the country, a little Andy Jackson went a long way. The Whigs did really well in congressional elections during Jackson’s term, and had a really good set of mid-terms in 1834. In fact, they had enough of a chunk of votes in the House that they were constantly driving Jackson into fits of rage. That House voting bloc is important, because it sets up what happens in 1836.

With the Whigs all set to run a national campaign in 1836 to succeed Jackson, their prospects look solid. Jackson’s second-term VP is Martin Van Buren, and he’s a northerner and absolutely no one in the southern wing of the Democratic Party trusted him. (Oh! Did we mention? Jackson actually killed that whole “Democratic-Republican” thing when he beat the incumbent Quincy Adams in 1828; Jackson ran as a “Democrat”, and so it has been ever since.)

Golden opportunity, right?

Well, sure. But then the Whigs get too smart for their own good, by half. See, the Whig party was doomed at its very inception by being a party that was in a large part created because a bunch of dudes hated Andrew Jackson. While that’s a fine emotion to have, it’s a tough thing to base a party ideology around. And so the original Whigs consisted of Southern Nullifiers, folks who thought states in the South could simply decide not to follow the US Constitution if it didn’t suit them. If you’re thinking, “Hey, that sounds like the place where secession would come from,” you win! But for now, these firebrands are married to western expansionists and northern merchants who want nothing to do with slavery. It’s an uneasy alliance. And it creates a problem. They know they can win in 1836, maybe. They just can’t come up with a candidate.

The southern nullifier wing puts up Hugh L. White, right from the outset. White ran in 1832 and got a lot of votes in the south…but White is largely a non-factor in the north or west. He’s the George Wallace figure here. No one can understand why the southern Whigs think this guy is a viable candidate.

(Hugh L. White. The southern racists in the 19th century always had cool metal guitarist hair going at least.)

The rest of the Whigs are all “Dudes, we’ve got the perfect guy!” And so they thought they did. William Henry Harrison had the log cabin resume. Plus, hero of fontier battles in the war of 1812 and in clearing out those pesky native American tribes from Indiana and Ohio. Name recognition. Whig guy. C’mon. Tippecanoe! You love him!

(William H. Harrison. Tippecanoe to friends. Big fan of long speeches and rainy days.)

The southern Whigs were all “Nuh-uh.” And so there were two Whig tickets, White and Harrison. And the Whigs realized that wasn’t going to work, because they’d split the vote.

And so someone came up with a bold idea. An idea Tom Chick-ian in it’s strategic brilliance. An idea that might have even worked if the economy had crashed a few months earlier than it did. What the Whigs decided was to rely on their strength in the House. “What if,” someone proposed, “What if we did that whole 1824 thing all over again?”

“What do you mean?”

“What if we made sure that no one got enough electoral votes to win the presidency outright, and this thing ended up in the pro-Whig caucus House? Then we’d be able to pick our own President from our party!!”

“Great, but how do we do that?”

“OK, this is hilarious and awesome. What we do is we get both White and Harrison on the ballots around the country…but we also get some popular native son, like, say, Daniel Webster, to run in New England as a Whig, and we get a popular mid-Atlantic states guy from Virginia or North Carolina to run as well. Don’t you see!!! We put FOUR guys on the ballot. Each one denies that dandy from New York–Van Buren–a chunk of the country and splits the votes. And then this election goes to the House again!”

I mean, it’s not the dumbest strategy ever, but it sure is a risky one. Rather than alienate the southern nullification Whigs (who’d flee the party en masse anyway as 1860 gets closer and the Whigs become more and more abolitionist leaning) and tell Hugh White to suck eggs, they’ll compromise and flood the ballots.

The problem with this strategy is that the country is actually doing really well in 1836. Jackson is popular. Van Buren wisely runs as a guy who’ll continue Jackson’s policies. And Jackson breaks from all tradition and begins writing published letters to newspapers around the country endorsing Van Buren and telling folks that electing the New Yorker was as close as they’d get to a third Jackson term. (Jackson actually didn’t like Van Buren all that much. But Jackson literally–not figuratively, but in actuality–wanted to kill his first term VP, John Calhoun. When I say “kill” here, please understand that this is Andrew Jackson and he’s nuts. So what I mean to say is that Jackson wanted to be the person to cause John Calhoun’s violent death, and that is not a figure of speech or an exaggeration. So yeah, compared to Calhoun, Jackson positively adores Van Buren.)

This sets us a cool set of precedents. For one, we have a popular president openly and happily campaigning for his VP to get the gig and be his successor, and the VP happily and willingly accepting and calling for that support. When would that happen again? Try 2016. And when Van Buren wins in 1836 (spoilers again), he becomes the last VP to succeed his own administration until George HW Bush does that in 1988.

OK, so where were we? Ah yes. The Whigs are going to run four regional candidacies to split the vote in November and send the election to the House. The Democrats are running a guy they’re mostly pretty “meh” about, but he’s getting the popular sitting president to campaign for him. And if Gallup was around in 1836, I’m guessing that “Right track/Wrong track” polling would strongly favor “right track” as we head into the fall of 1836. So that’s a problem for the Whigs and their fairly awesome split the vote strategy.

In the actual election, things don’t go well. William Henry Harrison does his part and wins the West and also along the small mid-Atlantic states like Delaware and Maryland and Jersey. White can only deliver Georgia and Tennessee though. Webster only wins the Massholes in his home state. The other Favorite son candidate is a guy named Willie Person Mangum, who is totally not the lead singer of Neutral Milk Hotel. He manages to win South Caolina, which is why you’ve never heard of Willie Person Mangum until you just read his name.

(Not in an aeroplane nor over the sea.)

And so that crazy and amazing gamble the Whigs took fails to work. Van Buren wins enough electoral votes to take the White House and succeed Andrew Jackson. And so with no other drama to play out, he and his chosen running mate, Richard Mentor Johnson…

…JUST KIDDING! We’re not even remotely done! We’re about to drop some history on you that you never DREAMED could happen in pre-Civil War American politics. The four-candidate Whig strategy was the beginning. Now we’re going to stretch your credulity! Next up!

(So close, Whigs. So close.)

Equally fascinating is Trump 2.0 of the Whigs, and how it destroyed them… but I’ll wait until you finish to share that one ;)

OK, so we’re done here, right? Election’s over. Van Buren wins, despite the Whigs engaging in a serious set of rush tactics. GG all.

Not even close, bud.

We’ve mentioned already that Martin Van Buren is a northerner. He’s from New York, and no one trusts a Yankee south of about Pennsylvania. What Marty needs is a good VP candidate, one whom the South will trust, and one who won’t alienate northern support.

And so someone suggests that there’s this guy who’s a total war hero. He’s a senator from Kentucky. Slave owner.

Perfect for Van Buren, right?

And so let me introduce the next star to our stage, Richard Mentor Johnson.,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,g_face,h_300,q_80,w_300/MTIwNjA4NjMzODU3OTM0ODYw.jpg
(Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Dick Johnson.)

Richard Mentor Johnson was a war hero in his own right. He’d fought against native uprisings in the Indiana and Illinois territories and claimed to have been the fellow who actually killed Tecumseh. That’s a dubious claim to 21st century audiences, but back in 1836 it was like being the guy who shot Bin Laden. It was a big deal. And yes, he was a Senator from Kentucky. And…here’s where it gets complicated.

See, Richard Mentor Johnson’s family owned slaves, and he inherited them. Not a problem, it’s just after the War of 1812 in Kentucky. No, the big problem is a woman named Julia Chinn.Julia Chinn was what was called an “octoroon” in 19th century southern parlance. (I have triple checked this term, and it apparently is considered to be fit for polite usage amongst historians and sociologists, btw.) What that term means is that Miss Chinn had both African slave parentage as well as white European parentage. She was born a slave, and was the property of the Johnson family. Richard Johnson was already in a relationship with Julia Chinn when he inherited her as his property.

So yeah, here’s what you didn’t know about the deep south during slavery. Richard Johnson wasn’t the only plantation owner who took on with one of his slaves, obviously. But he also wasn’t the only one who had an exclusive relationship with one, without having a wife of his own. No, as long as you were discreet about it, your slave wife was likely to enjoy the same kinds of respect and freedom as any other white southern wife would enjoy.

(The only known depiction we have of Julia Chinn (Johnson).

There were problems though. One, interracial marriage was verboten in Kentucky. Also, Kentucky was a slave state, so Julia Chinn’s presence there made her a slave. Finally, Richard Mentor Johnson had begun his political career in the House, representing Kentucky. Plus all his land and holdings, and yes, slaves were there.

So. This is pretty remarkable stuff here. Richard Johnson lists himself as a bachelor, but everyone, including Kentucky newspapers, begin to refer to Julia Chinn as Julia Chinn Johnson and as his common-law wife. Johnson doesn’t push back against that. When he’s away in DC, she manages the estate and his affairs as the mistress of the house, and everyone–including white businessmen who have business to transact treat her as Johnson’s wife. She and Johnson have two daughters together, and he recognizes both of them (well…we’ll get to that.)

So yeah, you heard it here first (probably), that the guy likely to become the Vice President of the United States in pre-Civil War America is married to a woman who most would consider African American. WOW! Progressive! (Ron Howard voice: “It’s not.”)

Johnson turned out to not be such a great candidate for VP after all. His marital past with Julia Chinn would haunt him in the Southern states and in the West as well. Still…didn’t matter. Van Buren won. All that remained was for the rather perfunctory ratification of electoral votes, right? We all remember that from watching Al Gore have to preside over that in 2000, yes?

Well, this is where things really go off the rails. Virginia Democrats are a pissy lot. They’re angry mostly because they thought that a pre-req to be President was being a Virginian, and yet that’s all set to not happen again. And so that’s troubling them. But also, what might have been OK in Kentucky was most certainly NOT just fine in the Atlantic tobacco slave states of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. It mattered little to them that in 1833, Julia Chinn had died when a cholera epidemic swept through Kentucky. It especially mattered little to them, because since his common law wife had died, Richard Mentor Johnson was in a committed and exclusive relationship with ANOTHER one of his slaves. (Say this for Richard Mentor Johnson. Say that he had a type.)

And so the Virginian electoral delegation ratifies the vote for Van Buren…but then refuses to vote the people’s choice in Virginia for Vice President. They become what are called Unfaithful Electors in the Constitution. (Also, “The Unfaithful Electors” is a great name for a retro electro synth pop band.)

That action by the Virginia delegation leaves Johnson 1 vote shy of having enough electoral votes to win the Vice Presidency. What now?

Thankfully, there’s a rule for that. The 12th Amendment comes into play, for the first and only time in US history. If the House gets to select a president when there aren’t enough electors, it’s the Senate who gets to select a Vice President. And the Senate in this case is still dominated by Democrats, and so they handily vote Richard Mentor Johnson in as VP.

Now perhaps you’re thinking that Richard Mentor Johnson was a truly enlightened kind of 19th century Kentucky politician. Yeah not so much. Yes, he was “married” to a slave. And then that slave died. And then, following that, Richard Mentor Johnson started seeing exclusively another slave that he owned. So keep in mind here, in his own brain and in the brains of the time, THE MAN IS DATING HIS PROPERTY.

And then it gets more gross. The slave woman that Richard Mentor Johnson is carrying on with leaves him for another man. Stop for a second and consider the implications of that, fully. He’s having carnal knowledge with his own property, and after a year or two, she tells him “Nah. I’d rather date this other slave instead of you.” What kind of a shitstain of a human being are you if your goddamned property is telling you “It’s not you, it’s me.”?

Well, Dick Johnson was having none of that. Shortly after being made VP, all this happens. So he does what any jaggoff southern slave owner would do: he sells the woman who broke up with him to a distant plantation owner. Yes, that seriously happened. Oh, and then Johnson begins a new relationship with ANOTHER slave, and this time it’s the goddamned SISTER of the slave he just sold for breaking up with him.

Oh, and I mentioned that Johnson had two daughters with Julia Chinn. When Richard Mentor Johnson finally died, he left all his property and wealth to his two brothers. No mention or acknowledgment of his two daughters, both of whom carried his name on their birth certificates, appeared anywhere in his will.

Oh, this has me curious!

This is terrific, Triggercut. Thanks. I knew nothing about Dick Johnson and his wife, and they are really interesting characters.

It makes me wish Dan Carlin were a lot more prolific, or that there were more people doing podcasts that combine history with good storytelling.

10 American Presidents may be worth checking. I’ve not listened to this one, specifically, but Roifield has guested on several I do, and has guests from some of my regular podcasts. Nothing on 1836, but Andrew Jackson gets a show.

For similar in depth treatment to a topic, check out American Biography. Still the first volume on John Marshall, of the famous Marshall plan.

That Dick Johnson had a slave break up with him–that the slave said “I’d rather go back to living in awful conditions and lose all my privileges and even risk separation from my family rather than stay with you”–and then reacted by selling her away is just spectacular garbage.

…and then he starts having sex with her sister…

…and then decides that even though his daughters, who were raised as his own daughters in the household and everything else, should be discarded from his estate…



(Said in the same tone and context as “The Aristocrats!”)

Fuck, given the guy was a 19th century politician, “The Aristocrats!” would probably be appropriate, too. . .

I read it in the tone Al Pacino uses to say “Vanity” in The Devil’s Advocate… which might also be appropriate in this context.

For similar in depth treatment to a topic, check out American Biography. Still the first volume on John Marshall, of the famous Marshall plan.

John Marshall was a chief justice, George Marshall was Army Chief of Staff in WW2 and created the Marshall Plan.

You are quite right. Right name, wrong claim to fame. That’s what I get for not actually reading the page.

Hurry the hell up trig, I want to hear about Whig Trump!

Hey man, that’s Craig’s tale to tell!

But he’s waiting on you (like the rest of us).

Insert smiley here.

With the sordid tale of Dick Johnson, I think we’ve put the election of 1836 to bed. Many thanks to my older brother for getting me so interested in it.

Another Triggercut thread, awesome! Now for a tough choice, do I power-read it in five minutes, or wait until tonight and take my time with wikipedia tabs open for research between sections or paragraphs…

So what would it look like when a major political party nominates a political outsider and neophyte, with no experience? An individual who made his fortune from land holding, with a racially discriminatory bent, who had made their fame in recent years attacking Mexicans? A man whose crude temperament was not well suited to the office? One whom considered himself an outsider who resented party politics, calling out the “trading politicians… on both sides”? A man whom was ineffective at repairing a party rift, which caused the party to split into two camps, one along free market business ideals, centered on the north, and one on nativist lines, located in the south. Nativist lines stoked by a distrust of immigrants.

You have Zachary Talyor, the last man to be elected as President from the Whig party.

In 1848 the Whig party had been fractious. Though they had lost in 1836, they won the Presidency in both 1840. Granted their chosen candidate died in office exactly one month after taking office. Farewell William Henry Harrison, we hardly knew you. His Vice President, whom wound up serving the remainder, and by remainder I mean the whole hog, was expelled from the party in September, 6 months after taking office*. So in 1844 the party put forward Henry Clay. It was a tightly contested election, with a mere 38,179 votes separating Clay from the eventual winner, James Polk. The key issue? The annexation of Texas, and admittance as a slave state.

Anyhow, so in 1848 we have an election coming where the Whigs had controlled Congress for years, while the White House was controlled by the Democratic party President James K. Polk (a party which had its own infighting, leading to a situation very relevant to the coming election).

So in 1848, sensing an opening, the Whig party needed to find their man. Their party was having a hard time holding their business wing together with their nativist wing, and needed a way to unite the party. So they found a common cause, one hearkening back to their constant refrain, and founding creed. One that called for a rollback of executive power, and a nearly passive president who deferred to congressional leaders. A president not interested in the details of governance, so to speak.

They did this by picking an unlikely candidate. Zachary Taylor.

As mentioned Taylor was a wealthy man, one of the wealthiest of his day. He was a southern slave owner who had inherited properties across the south. He was also a war hero, having fought in the Mexican American war and won great renown in doing so. His victories, pushing deeper into Mexico, had garnered him quite a bit of popularity. In turn this served to increase his land holdings.

He was also largely apolitical, never having held any public office of note. He had to be coaxed into the role of candidate, which was not all that uncommon then. But he checked the most important box on their ticket, he promised to offer halfhearted compromises on the slave state question. Despite his own personal slave ownership Taylor was not committed to the expansion of slavery, and in fact he consistently put forward ideas intended to render the issue moot. Given that the party was on the verge of splitting on this question this was an important feature. Ameliorate southern Whigs who wanted to make new slave states, and northerners opposed to such expansion. Nominating a slave owner who was not in favor of admitting new slave states seemed to serve this purpose.

However the nomination of Taylor was not universally popular. Long time Whig leader and failed Presidential candidate, Mitt Rom… I mean Henry Clay: “The Whig party has been overthrown by a mere personal party, Can I say that in [Taylor’s] hands Whig measures will be safe and secure, when he refused to pledge himself to their support?" Taylor attempted to relieve the pressure through a series of ‘leaked’ letters championing his Whig bonafides.

Then we get to the actual election.

*The story of Tyler is fascinating in its own right. One I don’t know enough about to do justice. However what brought it about was a fight over a President who did not go along with a congress controlled by his party and vetoed banking and spending bills, was kicked out of the party, had partisan news sources calling for his assassination, and an obstructionist congress who denied any funding requests of the sitting president out of pure spite, allowing federal infrastructure to degrade.

So the stage is set. Taylor gets the nod, largely backed by southern support. The growing abolitionist sense of the party never could coalesce due to the need to court southern support, but in early ballots Taylor was largely opposed by northern states. Eventually he did outlast his rivals, including the antislavery war hero Winfield Scott. Picking a decorated soldier was a political calculation. The Whigs, opposed to the war, had been confronted with a problem. The Democratic leadership was popular, the country doing well, and the war had been a smashing success. So despite their strong opposition to things like manifest destiny they gave it up, knowing that maintaining opposition to the popular war was a death sentence.

But it was still an imbalanced nomination, with the bulk of Taylor’s support being from the south. Let it never be said that the compromise candidate really mollified the party rifts. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth from northern Whigs followed, decrying how this represented an end to the nascent abolitionist movement for the party.

To placate the northerners the party picked New York Whig, and anti slavery politician, Millard Fillmore. A man with experience at both state and federal levels, currently serving as comptroller of New York. Figuring his experience and more traditional party values could sand off the edges of the rough and ready Major General.

His opponent on the Democrat ticket was Lewis Cass, a Michigan man whom was suspected of pro slavery leanings, or at the very least was not anti slavery. And so we loop back to the election of 1836. Remember the man who actually won? Martin Van Buren? That guy served a single term, but remained popular. He had sought reelection in 1840, but lost, and candidacy in 1844, but was rebuffed in favor of Polk, whom had promised to only serve a single term to placate divisions in the party. True to his word Polk stepped aside in 1848. Van Buren, pushing for an anti slavery platform, tried to secure the nomination but lost. Upset over this he and his supporters formed the Free Soil party, free soil being free states naturally.

This new party did draw from both anti slavery Democrats and northern Whigs. Now the truth of the matter is that Van Buren had never pursued a policy of strict anti slavery, but he did capitalize on that sentiment.

The election did put the contradictions in both parties into sharp relief. Abraham Lincoln campaigned for Taylor and the Whigs in the north on the basis of reducing partisanship and reduction of the executive, in the south the Whig campaign played up his slave ownership.

Taylor’s campaign had to fight against the man himself at times, with Fillmore acting as a handler of sorts. Taylors independence and lack of party discipline led to a decline in the tickets prospects. But careful grooming, in the form of the, now dubbed, Allison Letters, aided the campaign. Promising to be “president of the whole people” and how he would follow “good Whig doctrine”.

In the end it was a fight between two unpopular compromise candidates. Now I’m going to pull a quote from Wikipedia, which is attributed to Joel Silbey in Party Over Section: The Rough and Ready Presidential Election of 1848:

And remember Van Buren and the Free Soil party?

See their green streaks by Chicago, Upstate New York, and northern Ohio? They won no states, but they did win some pretty big population centers. Their total of the vote was around 10%, and didn’t swing any states by taking counties, but certainly took enough of the vote to have an impact. They also got two senators and 14 members of Congress, so they were ok in the end.

In the end both Cass and Taylor took 15 states, but Taylor had enough electoral votes to get the nod. Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin combined were worth only what Kentucky was. To top it off voter participation dropped 6%, from 78% to 72%.

Once in office Taylor wasn’t the candidate they thought they’d get though. The abstaining from signing a party platform, lack of committed political principles, and general cantankerousness caused rifts in the party that never healed. Taylor’s role in the compromise of 1850, his various proposals (such as two free super states created out of all unaligned territory) bucked party leadership and the passive executive that he had campaigned on. Slave owners felt betrayed by not pushing for more slave friendly policy.

In the end the party would ultimately fracture and dissolve. The south largely being absorbed by the officially pro slave Democrats, the north joining with the Free Soil into the new Republican party. Though the Compromise of 1850 would temporarily relieve the pressure, it was only a partial measure that kicked the can a decade. In 1852 the Whigs lost decisively, and the deaths of party luminaries Cass and Daniel Webster meant that, ultimately, the party officially dissolved in 1854.

Sorry for the hijack @triggercut, but I felt this story dovetails quite nicely with the rise of the Whigs in 1836.

Plus you inspired me, I’d read up on this recently, and found it fascinating :)

Plus the parallels to 2016 are sometimes a bit on the nose, which is fun.