Sunday, August 3, 2008

Daniel Walker Howe's Political Culture of the American Whigs

Daniel Walker Howe. The Political Culture of the American Whigs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1979. 404 pages. Available from for $26.60. Available used and new from $14.00.

This is a fine book. Interesting, highly informative, fun to read. Howe's writing is lucid. Books like this inspire us to learn. Howe's insights about the American Whig Party, their ideas, religion and culture are wonderful, and he covers a lot of ground. He uses a biographical approach that covers a wide range of Whig Party politicians beginning with John Quincy Adams (who became a Whig after his presidency and during his post-presidency Congressional tenure) and ending with Abraham Lincoln, not only the best-remembered Whig but also the best-remembered 19th Century politician, except perhaps for Jefferson. Of course, the Whig Party expired in 1856 and Lincoln gained the presidency as the first Republican, but his allegiance to Henry Clay never diminished.

I read the book because I became curious about the continuity of American elitist and pro-Central Bank ideology between the 18th and twentieth centuries. This book makes clear that there are many linkages between the Whigs and the Progressives, hence the New Deal (which is my own conclusion, not Professor Howe's). Nancy Cohen makes clear the link between the Mugwumps and the Progressives, and in his concluding pages Howe mentions that the Whigs mildly reasserted themselves via the Liberal Republican Party in the 1872 election, which is often referred to as an early phase of the Mugwumps' activism. Although Howe characterizes the Whigs as the "country" party, it is clear that many former Federalists became Whigs in the 1830s. It also is clear that the economic elite was associated with the Whigs just as they had been with the Federalists, niceties about political ideology aside. Thus, there is a clear line from the Federalists to the Whigs, then to the Mugwumps and then to the Progressives. The speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, himself a one-time Mugwump, make clear the connection between his own ideas and those of Franklin Roosevelt's.

One of the nice things about this book is that Howe covers the religious and evangelical elements in the Whig philosophy along with the economic and political. It is fairly clear that the evangelical social concerns, linked of course to abolitionism, form the basis of today's social democrats' concerns. The evangelical religious impulse developed in several ways, one of which was through Social Gospel Christianity, through to Progressivism and then the social welfare elements of the New Deal. The emotional commitment of social democrats to their programs can be explained in this evolution of religious feeling that has been displaced into social democracy.

This book, written as a solid piece of history, does not suggest that there is a continuous party that has favored economic centralization from the Federalists to the New Deal Democrats. But it seems clear from the evidence. For most of its history, with the exception of the Mugwump period, the centralization party has favored a central bank, public works (which were characteristic of not only of Hamilton's Federalist program but also of Henry Clay's American system, of Theodore Roosevelt's ideas and of the New Deal) and business. The Whigs, the Mugwumps and the Progessives were ambivalent about big business, although their moral concerns seem to have been easily displaced. There is little doubt that the tariffs that the Whigs implemented were in large part responsible for big business in America. The Mugwumps, at least in some instances, were willing to repeal the tariffs but the Progressives amounted to a reassertion of more aggressive Whiggery than had existed since the end of the Civil War. In the Mugwump period the urban elite became hostile to corruption of some big business. In turn, the Progressives and New Dealers in increasing progression used anti-business rhetoric to cloak their centralist orientation. The centralizing party favored tariffs in the Hamiltonian and Clay periods, then divided over tariffs during the Mugwump period. The anti-tariff position won thereafter to the extent that reductions in tariffs did not hurt American business interests.

American history occurs in cycles, with each cycle involving various combinations and variations on the issues of economic centralization, central banking, protectionism, and support for industry. Progressivism aggressively asserted the centralizing position against the late nineteenth century elitists' deviant laissez-faire philosophy. I call it deviant because in all other periods other than the late nineteenth century American elites have opposed laissez-faire in favor of corporatist, centralizing mercantilism, Progressivism and finally so-called "liberalism". It is a tribute to the power of laissez-faire that a movement that was backed primarily by working-class and small farmer Jacksonians from say 1825to today really, and had the backing of economic elites only during the post-bellum period that ended in the late 1890s, continued to provoke so much distress from university-trained economic elites, business and banking interests, organized labor and other proponents of elitist centralization through to the present.

Like the Whigs, the Progressives were advocates of a return to the corporatist mercantilism of the 17th and 18th centuries represented by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury in the 17th century and Sir James Steuart in his "Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy", published in 1767. As William Appleman Williams aptly points out in his classic Contours of American History :

" is possible to gain a vital insight into that contemporary liberalism which defends the right of private property and asserts the supremacy of individual liberty while at the same time advocating the general welfare. For although such liberals show superficial similarities to the mercantilists, they are considerably removed from that conservative tradition of the common good. Such liberals usually label Karl Marx a heretic and consider socialism a heresy, but the reverse is much closer to the truth. The liberal tradition stems from the triumph of laissez-faire individualism over corporate Christianity. Marx and other socialists reasserted the validity of the original idea in response to the liberal heresy. That is indeed one of the basic explanations of socialism's persistent relevance and appeal in the 20th century."*

Williams's point can be expanded a bit, because not only socialists but also Whigs and Progressives rejected the laissez-faire heresy.

As opposed to laissez-faire, the Whig Party (p. 16) "advanced a particular program of national development. The Whig economic platform called for purposeful intervention by the federal government in the form of tariffs to protect domestic industry, subsidies for internal improvements, and a national bank to regulate the currency and make tax revenues available for private investment...The Democrats inclined toward free trade and laissez-faire; when government action was required, they preferred to leave it to the states and local communities. The Whigs were more concerned with providing centralized direction to social policy...The most important single issue dividing the parties, and the source of the most acute disappointment to the Whigs after President Harrison had been succeeded by Tyler, concerned the banking systemm. Jackson's veto of the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832 became the point of departure for a generation of political partisanship". By 1860 Abraham Lincoln favored reinstitution of a central bank but was unable to effect it, and a central bank was not reinstituted until 1913, under Woodrow Wilson, who was the first of several Democratic Party Whigs.

Howe goes on to point out (p. 17):

"The banking-currency issue (that is, the right of banks to issue their own paper money) mattered at the state as well as the federal level. Many states redrafted their constitutions during the Jacksonian period and had to decide whether they would authorize state banking monopolies (usually mixed public-private corporations), specially chartered banks, free banking, or no banks of issue at all. As time went by, the parties tended to polarize with respect not only to rechartering a national bank but to the function of banking in general. The Democrats generally became more committed to hard money (specie or government-issued currency), while the Whigs became defenders of the credit system (in which banks were the issuers of currency)."

"When Democratic "Martin van Buren complained during the Panic of 1837 that people looked to the government for too much," (Whig) Henry Clay retorted that the people were "entitled to the protecting care of a paternal government." This is very much in the tradition of mercantilism.

But while on economic issues the Democrats were anti-inflation and pro-democracy, on the race issue the Democrats were pro-slavery and racism while the Whigs were less racist and more anti-slavery.

Howe argues that (p. 20):

"there is danger in calling the Whigs champions of the positive liberal state. It makes them sound too much like twentieth-century liberals. Actually, the differences between the Whigs and twentieth century liberals are more important than the similarities. Whig policies did not have the object of redistributing wealth or diminishing the influence of the privileged. Furthermore, the Whigs distrusted executives in both state and federal government (they had been traumatized by the conduct of Jackson), whereas twentieth century liberals have endorsed strong executives more often than not. For all their innovations in economic policy, the Whigs usually thought of themselves as conservatives, as custodians of an identifiable political and cultural heritage. Most deeply separating the Whigs from twentieth century liberals were their moral absolutism, their paternalism and their concern with imposing discipline...the Whigs proposed a society that would be economically diverse but culturally uniform; the Democrats preferred the economic uniformity of a society of small farmers and artisans but were more tolerant of cultural and moral diversity."

Taking the last point first, economic diversity is not an issue of importance today, but cultural uniformity is. Perhaps invisibly to Howe, twentieth century social democrats have aimed to foist a cultural uniformity on America. In the mid twentieth century they claimed that liberalism reflected the national consensus. By the 1980s they advocated political correctness. Political correctness is a moralistic impulse with Whiggish religious roots. Moreover, although the twentieth and 21st centuries have rejected the sexual morality and Aristotelian virtues characteristic of the Whigs and earlier, they have replaced these with a host of politically correct moralities with which they replace faith and tradition, to include animal rights, global warming and similar causes.

It fascinates me that Howe's argument begs the argument of Murray Rothbard, Ronald Radosh and Martin J. Sklar in New History of Leviathan that twentieth century liberalism did not aim to redistribute wealth but only used social democratic rhetoric to re enforce elitist goals. In terms of culture, there is no doubt that 20th and 21st century liberalism repudiates 19th century Whiggish elitism as well as 19th century Democratic Party racism in favor of a revised elitist philosophy based in part on similar impulses, such as claiming special status for the educated, especially the professions. Changing technology and extensions of knowledge created new economic interests in the late nineteenth century that changed the emphasis of the Whigs' descendants, the Mugwumps, into emphasizing the role of the professions, Whiggish forms of government intervention in support of the professions and rationalization of industry and government (which the Whigs would have supported). Naturally, economic conditions altered the form elitist centralization took just as religious and moral emphasis and alliances shifted.

But on the following page Howe puts the statist essence of the Whigs into focus (p. 21):

"Because of their commitment to 'improvement', Whigs were much more concerned than Democrats with providing conscious direction to the forces of change. For them, real progress was not likely to occur automatically; it required careful, purposeful planning...Whig morality was corporate as well as individual; the community, like its members, was expected to set an example of virtue and to enforce it when possible. A third recurring theme in Whig rhetoric was the organic unity of society...the Whigs were usually concerned with muting social conflict."

Seventy years later, when Frederick Winslow Taylor advocated a "mental revolution" between labor and management as part of his system of scientific management that aimied to rationalized industry, like a good Whig Progressive (and Herbert Croly specifically endorsed Taylorism) he was arguing for the organic unity of society.

The Whigs liked to draw an analogy between the human body and the political system (p. 29): "An essential feature of the analogy for the Whigs was the parallel between regulating the faculties within an individual and regulating the individuals within society. Faculty psychology tgaught an ideal of harmony within diversity...The model ruled out laissez-faire as a social philosophy, emphasizing instead the mutual responsibility of individuals and classes. The ideal society, like the ideal personality, improved its potential in many directions. Economic development promoted a healthy diversity, which 'furnishes employment for every variety of human faculty.' The conception implied an active, purposeful central government, administering the affairs of the nation according to its best judgment for the good of the whole and all parts of the whole."

This explains the difference between the Whigs and their later descendants, the Progressives and the New Dealers, as to the importance of the chief executive. By 1900 the federal government was becoming too complex to permit a legislature to make managerial decisions. Hence, advocates of centralization had to choose between no centralization and a strong legislature or centralization and and a strong executive. Obviously, centralization was more important to the centralizing party than was a weak executive. As a practical matter, centralization is impossible without a strong executive once government reaches a certain level of size and complexity. Since the Whig/Progressive/New Deal Party has been focused on expanding government to satisfy the economic interests of the professional and managerial classes, the issue of a powerful executive is a trivial one compared to the issue of increasing size and complexity of government. You can't have both.

Moreover, the Whigs anticipated today's liberal New Deal Democrats in their claim that the educated had the right to special privileges and that the educated ought to rule over the uneducated (p. 30):

"John Locke had written that people who lacked the opportunity to cultivate their higher faculties (such as women and the poor) could not become fully rational and therefore justly held subordinate positions within society...The American Whigs were less explicit than Locke, but they shared his general view that those who had not had the opportunity of education should defer to the leadership of those who had received it..."

Today, the claim of elite privilege by the educated has reached a fever pitch. I doubt that a single Congressman or member of the President's cabinet lacks a college degree. This is so even as the intellectual demands of a college education have dwindled to next to nothing and college graduates today know less than high school graduates of 100 years ago. Compare this with an observation by Herbert Hoover in 1922**:

"That our system has avoided the establishment and domination of class has a significant proof in the present administration in Washington. Of the twelve men comprising the President, Vice-President, and Cabinet, nine have earned their own way in life without economic inheritance, and eight of them started with manual labor."

Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party violated the "politics of deference" characteristic of early American society through extending the spoils system to all classes (p. 31). This tradition continued through Hoover's time, but the Progressives and their New Deal descendants put in place policies that were less democratic. This repositioning of elitism to focus on education rather than on the traditional land and wealth criteria occurred during and before the Mugwump period. The Mugwumps emphasized the rationalization of civil service, a concept which the Progressives developed into scientific management.

To support business, Whigs supported tariffs and the central bank (p. 32). These stands appealed to wealthy business interests but not to the poor. In order to appeal to the poor, the Whigs emphasized ethnic (specifically, WASP) identity politics, and moral issues that cut across social classes. Part of this involved the evangelical Second Great Awakening as well as appeals to basic morals (p.33):

"The Whig party's electoral campaigns formed part of a cultural struggle to impose on the United States the standards of morality we usually term Victorian. They were standards of self-control and restraint, which dovetailed well with the economic program of the party, for they emphasized thrift, sobriety and public responsibility...They looked upon the Democratic voters as undisciplined."

The Whigs extended this moralism to a belief in central planning and opposition to free markets (p. 34):

"Running through Whig political appeals was the concept of consciously arranged order. This was characteristic of their reliance on government planning rather than the invisible forces of the marketplace. It was characteristic of their reliance on government planning..."

The Whigs emphasized public education, in part through the activities of Horace Mann, a Whig (p. 36): "A believer in uniformity and conscious planning, Mann wanted more centralization in school systems. Democrats, resenting higher taxes and loss of control, frequently opposed Mann and other Whig educational reformers."

In contrast to Democrats, who aimed to end economic privilege through systemic reform such as the abolition of the central bank (p. 37):

"Whig reforms were frequently altruistic efforts to redeem others rather than examples of self-help. Whigs supported Dorothea Dix's campaign for federal aid to mental hospitals; Democrats opposed. Whig prison reformers sought to make prison a place of redemption as well as retribution...Democratic prision reformers, on the other hand, were usually concerned with economy, efficiency and deterrence."

The parallels to Progressivism and the New Deal seem clear.

The Jacksonian Democrats were the ones who oppressed the Indians. For instance the Cherokee case, where the rich lands of the Five Tribes in Georgia led to their expulsion via the famously tragic "trail of tears" was a partisan Democratic policy. "Chief Justice John Marshall delivered the judgment of the United States Supreme Court in Worcester et al. v. Georgia on March 3, 1832. He found Georgia's action unconstitutional: the state had no right to legislate for the Cherokee Nation...But Georgia defied the Court's decision...and went ahead with the expulsion of the Indians. Jackson made it clear that he would never enforce the Court's mandate, and loopholes in federal appellate procedure enabled him to avoid doing so. Meanwhile, he used the Army to facilitate the dispossession of the Indians, not to protect them." Chief Justice Marshall was, of course, a Whig.

In part because of their emphasis on moral development that coincided with their belief in economic development, Whigs emphasized history to a greater extent than Democrats (p. 72). Whigs believed that a generation could bind a later generation, lending acceptability to long term mortgages. Again, we seen a hint of future big government social democracy. For instance (p. 72) the Whig William Henry Seward recommended a series of internal improvements in New York.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute quotes a Edgar Lee Masters's biography of Lincoln that states that the internal improvements of the Whigs involved a considerable degree of corruption:

"Henry Clay was their champion, and he represented 'that political system which doles favors to the strong in order to win and to keep their adherence to the government. His system offered shelter to devious schemes and corrupt enterprises.' They advocated 'a people taxed to make profits for enterprises that cannot stand alone.' The Whig party had 'no platform to announce, because its principles were plunder and nothing else.' These men 'adopted the tricks of the pickpocket who dresses himself like a farmer in order to move through a rural crowd unidentified while he gathers purses and watches.'...Lincoln in the 1830s succeeded in having the legislature allocate $12 million in an absurd make-work scheme to turn Illinois into one vast system of government-subsidized canals and railroad lines...The scheme was a colossal failure as virtually all of the money was stolen or squandered. Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon, called the scheme 'reckless and unwise' and a disaster that 'rolled up a debt so enormous' that it impeded Illinois' economic growth for many years. 'The internal improvement system, the adoption of which Lincoln had played such a prominent part, had collapsed,' Herndon wrote in his biography of Lincoln."

These points contradict some in Howe's book, but Howe does not address the issue of corruption in the actual implementation of the public works projects that Whigs like Lincoln did implement. It is not surprising that corruption was involved, nor is it surprising that ideologically the Whigs might not have addressed this issue despite or rather because of the moralism in their belief system. On the other hand, Howe's evidence does not support DiLorenzo's claim that the Whigs did not have a platform. On some issues, such as treatment of the Indians, Whig opposition to the Mexican War (which was a Jacksonian plicy) and abolition, there was considerably more overlap between the Whigs' position and the libertarian one that DiLorenzo advocates. Nor is it fair to dismiss the mercantilist view as one that intentionally encouraged corruption. The economic development of Britain between 1600 and 1840 was one of the dramatic feats of economic development in the history of the world, and it occurred under a primarily mercantilist ideology. It might have been better to have adopted the ideas of Murray Rothbard in 1600, but it also might have been better if jets and cellular phones had been available to Clay, Biddle and Lincoln.

Like Libertarians, Jacksonian Democrats feared the emergence of a plutocratic elite. However, the Whigs saw a threat "in the perversion of the political process by demagogoues taking advantage of the loss of an independent spirit among the people" (p. 76) and they saw Jackson himself as a demagogue. Like the Federalists, the Whigs emphasized not democracy but balance. In their view (p. 77) "the purpose of government is not to implement popular will but to balance and harmonize interests." Balanced government, of course, is the theme of the Federalist Papers. The Whigs emphasized the national origin of the Constitution. They did not believe that the Constitution originated with the states. The federal government is mixed, neither wholly federal nor wholly consolidated.

(p. 77) "The most salient characteristic of American Whig political thought was that it remained within the tradition of the "commonwealthmen," that remarkable group of English and Scottish writers...Two favorite writers in the tradition were James Harrington and Viscount Bolingbroke."

(p. 78) "That the Whigs who advocated industrialization and economic development should have identified with a political heritage called 'country' may seem at first anomalous. Actually, however, the word 'country' was understood more in opposition to 'court' than in opposition to 'city'. Within the English 'country party' not only landed gentlemen but also bourgeois Protestant Dissenters were prominent...As a group that included both townsmen and commercial farmers, and as inheritors of the religious tradition of English Dissent, the Whigs found the country-party tradition congenial."

p. 90 "Both Whigs and Democrats claimed to be heirs of the Republican Party of Jefferson though both in fact contained some some former Federalists. Ex-Federalists like Daniel Webster became willing to cite Jefferson as an opponent of executive power once they had become Whigs. The closest ideological predecessors of the Whigs seem to have been not the Federalists but the 'moderate' or 'nationalistic' wing of the Republicans. This group combined, as the Whigs did later, a country-party respect for consitutional balance, legal tradition and executive restraint with belief in federally sponsored economic development and government 'for' rather than 'by' the people. The archetypal representative of this brand of Republicanism, and the patron of Whiggery, was James Madison. It is well known (or it should be) that Jefferson disapproved of Jackson's candidacy in 1824; it is even more significant that Madison and Gallatin, who were still alive in 1832, when the issues of the Jacksonian era had been clearly drawn, supported Clay for president that year."

"The Whig defeat in 1844 entailed consequences of imponderable magnitude, leading as it did to war with Mexico and exacerbated sectional antagonism. War was traditionally an evil in country-party ideology, dreaded not only for its cost in blood and money but because it provided an occasion for executive aggrandizement. President Polk's devious and provocative conduct, both before and afterthe beginning of hostilities, provided plenty of confirmation for such fears" (p. 92)

Howe provides fascinating biographies of two Whig entrepreneurs: Nathan Appleton and Henry Carey. Appleton founded various textile mills, including most famously an early joint stock company called the Merrimack Manufacturing Company. Appleton named the company town "Lowell" after a deceased partner. The firm made early forays into human resource management on a dramatic scale:

"The company built homes for the households of its male supervisory employees and boardinghouses for its unamrried female operatives; it supplied the town with a school, a hospital and a library, whose resources made possible the magazine the employees put out, the famous Lowell Offering. It was by no means sufficient for the proprietors to provide what they thought were wholesome working and living conditions at Lowell. They desired to preserve the morals of the people there to be gathered. With this in mind, they built or subsidized eight churces, exercised strict supervision over the workers' private lives and founded a savings bank...Lowell Massachusetts represented social innovation as much as technological innovation. In its original conception, it was to be not only a company town but also an experimental utopia...Lowell illustrates the Whig desire to remake the world...most of the workers were isolated from their families and lived regimented lives of hard work, chastity and diligent uplift...the workers would be women...By hiring women the Merrimack Manufacutring Company could pay lower wages than British industry was paying men..."

(p. 104) "In reply to Democratic charges that corporations were conspiratorial and elitist, Whig defenders of corporations (mixed or private) insisted that they conferred great benefit on savers of modest means by allowing them to participate with the rich in the profits of incorporated business. This was why John Quincy Adams could speak of the 'truly republican institution of joint stock companies.'"

Appleton and his associates founded a private banking system based in Boston. As a result, New England was not dependent on the bank of the United States for a uniform circulating medium. "Member banks in many New England towns would desposit sufficient funds to guarantee their notes at the Suffolk Bank in Boston. In consideration for the use of their money, the Suffolk Bank would redeem the notes of the out-of-town banks at par instead of discounting them. Thus a uniform circulating medium and banking reserve requirements were maintained within the region..." (p. 106).

Henry Carey (p. 109) "identified himself with what might be called the commercial wing of Jeffersonian Republicanism, advocating internal improvements, a protective tariff, a national bank, and reconciliation with the Federalists--in short, the Madisonian Platform." Carey was a moral philosopher and economist (p. 111) "who believed America would be a better place to live if it could industrialize." He believed that "genuine full employment was both the means to economic progress and, for Carey, the end of economic progress. Carey was a feminist and argued that economic development held out considerable promise to women (p. 112). He believed in a mixed economy, capitalism combined with government intervention (remember, this was the 1830s--the idea that a mixed economy was "progressive" was a claim of the 1900's-1930s, 70-100 years after Carey). "Government policy should add...what is today called social overhead--a transportation network and an educational system. To keep the economy expanding, the burden of taxation should not be oppressive, but in the United States in Carey's time there was little danger of this. Carey laid the most stress on a plentiful money supply and a protective tariff to prevent this money from being drained off...Taken together, trhese policies would secure investment capital, increase productivity and raise wages..."

"Carey looked to technology to solve the differences between capital and labor" (P. 113). Carey's philosophy had Christian and moral overtones (p. 114). He believed in progress and opposed Malthus and the Manchester school. He advocated a culture of progress (by which he meant economic as opposed to political progress).

Whigs may have been the first advocates of suburbanization. "Whiggery was an outlook more appropriate to villagers or townsmen than to either frontiersmen or city many parts of the country where the Whig party was strongest it was asociated with a longing to recreate the early New England town settlement." (p. 116). Whig candidates generally outpolled Democrats in the cities (p. 117). "The Whig desire to preserve rural values within an urban context eventually led to important developments in urban park and cemetary landscape architecture, culminating after the Civil War in the genius of Frederick Law Olmstead". Olmstead was a Mugwump associate of EL Godkin.

Le Corbusier is generally recognized as the ideological forerunner of Robert Moses, but Moses seems to bear some things in common with the Whigs, specifically, the notion of the need to introduce country-like super-blocks would seem to echo Olmstead's concept of a park within a city (although when Olmstead designed Central Park it was on the northern end of the city). Moses would seem to have fulfilled the Whiggish tradition, both in terms of being a master public works builder and one who introduced urban America to the suburbs through highway building and superblocks.

Carey opposed trade, viewing it as parasitic and exploitative. He viewed the Irish potato famine as indicative of the problems that trade can cause (p. 118) "The same Carey who praised the small-to-medium-scale capitalism of the town deplored the large-scale capitalism of the metropolis. A trading economy corrupted its own society...Within cities a submerged 'proletariat' appeared...The trading classes lived by appropriation of wealth created by others." The Whig ideology had an anti-capitalist flavor at times, which parallels Progressivism seven decades later. Carey believed that the evils of trade could be overcome with a protective tariff. Protectionism led to "a diversified economy" which would "provide a healthy human environemnt for varied talents." A diversified economy secured people's independence against intimidation. (p. 122) "The great triumph of Carey's life came with the passage of the Morrill Tariff of 1862, commencing a century of American protectionism that would last until the Kennedy round of economic conferences. Yet instead of a decentralized 'middle zone' of opportunity and morality, economic consolidation and further urbanization characterized the high tariff era. The idea that protection was only a transitional phase for infant industries was ignored." This brings us back to the Rothbard/Radosh thesis. Were the Whigs merely fools to advocate tariffs to encourage "a diversified economy" instead of big business, or were they merely front men for big business interests?

Henry Clay

"Henry Clay believed in stability and order" (p. 123). (p. 139) "The Bank issue brought into sharp focus the conflict between the two views of the nation's destiny: Clay's vision of economic development planned centrally by a capitalist elite and the Democratic vision of a land of equal opportunity. Even after the Bank's charter finally expired in 1836, banking and currency remained the subject of bitterest partisan debate." (p. 146) "The conjunction of commerce with Christianity was typical of the Whig version of imperialism". Clay adopted the ideas of Henry Carey. He (p. 137) advocated revenue sharing or distribution of federal money to the states. His American System "was predicated on the basis of a harmony of interests" 9P. 138). The Whigs argued for class harmony and mutuality of interests.

Lyman Beecher

Lyman Beecher represented the evangelical dimension of the Whigs. "The tradition of Edwardsean eschatology had been transmitted to Beecher via Timothy Dwight, Edwards's grandson, who became president of Yale during Beecher's undergraduate years. The continuity of evangelical thought remained unbroken during the time of the Whig party; the providential interpretation of history that one finds in Edwards' accounts of the Reformation or the Glorious Revolution appears in the writings of Whigs as late as the 1840s...Like Edwards--and John Quincy Adams--Beecher believed in postmillennialism, the doctrine that the Second Coming will occur at the end of the thousand years of peace...The Second Coming was not far off...One last big effort would do it--or rather two: the establishment of foreign missions to complete the conversion of the world and the moral renovation of American society to give Christ a beachhead for His return." (p. 152)

p. 152-3: the one hopeful source that the Whigs had was postmillenial theology. Their other sources were the classical writers and some economists who were pessimistic. The secular authors the Whigs read "espoused a limited view of the possibilities for human achievement...The evangelical movement supplied Whiggery with a conception of progress that was the collective form of redemption: like the individual, society as a whole was capable of improvement through conscious effort. Nineteenth century evangelicism, even more than eighteenth century evangelicism, demanded the moral regeneration of society, not simply of the individuals within it. Again, there are hints of Progressivism.

p. 154 "When Lyman Beecher declared that 'the stated policy of heaven is to raise the world from its degraded condition' he had in mind not only its spiritual but also its intellectual and material condition..."

p. 156 "In his 'Lectures on Political Atheism'...Beecher begins by arguing that Christianity is the ally of social progress and liberty...Biblical Christianity, that is Protestantism, promotes schools, morality, economic enterprise and relative social equality..."

The Whigs' ideology was institutionalist and evolutionary, as was that of Progressives like John R. Commons and John Dewey. The Democrats saw institutions as threatening liberty. (p. 182) "Whigs, however felt that institutions provided the structures that made freedom meaningful. Institutions could evolve to cope with changing circumstances; they could serve as intermediaries for redemption, as the benevolent societies did. Whig institutionalism was by no means incompatible with antislavery...European conservatives in the nineteenth century sometimes found that progressive legislation suited their purposes, as Bismarck and Disraeli well illustrate. Lord John Russell put their policy nicely: 'There is nothing so conservative as progress.' This attitude--that a measure of progress is desirable to forestall more drastic upheavals--was certainly not unknown among the American Whigs...'True conservatism,' a party spokesman affirmed, operates not by indiscriminate resistance to change, but the intelligent and seasonable combination of Order and Improvement."

(p. 182) "The economic, social, cultural and moral proram of the Whigs can be characterized in a broad sense as that of a modernizing elite, a bourgeois elite that was open to the talents of an upwardly mobile Lincoln or Greeeley...the modernizing of social organization during this time was pioneered to a great extent by paternalists...(Jackson) and his Democratic Party were primarily defending a society of independent yeoman and artisans, who were threatened by the kind of modernization the Whigs envisaged...As exemplars of Whigs who were deliberate modernizers, Horace Greeley and William Henry Seward serve well."

I disagree with Howe there. Although the Whigs claimed to advocate modernization, the most important modernizing steps occurred outside of the "American System" of Clay and Lincoln. These included the inventions of the late nineteenth century which occurred despite government not because of it. Because historians tend to emphasize institutions, philosophers, ideologues and political structures they fail to see the spontaneous change that occurs because of the Jacksonian impulse. This institutionalist bias in history results in mistaken and destructive policy conclusions that are drawn from failure to grasp the role of markets. Getting back to Howe:

(p. 187) "Greeley favored workers' cooperatives, supported the ten-hour day, and joined the printers' union; yet anything that smacked of class conflict was abhorrent to him. He advocated collective bargaining but felt that it should lead to binding arbitration rather than strikes. Since capital and labor did not seem to Greeley to have opposing interests, arbitration commended itself to him as peaceful, rational and just.

"Social reform did not, for Greeley, necessarily mean opposition to the interests or wishes of capitalists. He supported limited liability and the Whig Bankruptcy Act of 1841, admired the Lowell textile mills, and endorsed industrialization in general...Greeley belonged to a generation that could think of business itself as a moral cause." (p. 188)

"It makes it easier to understand Greeley if we note his remarkable similarity to the 'progressives' of the early twentieth century. Like them, he wanted to rationalize the existing social order and make it more humane. Through the Tribune he advocated such protprogressive casues as a national presidential primary, an income tax, the abolition of capital punishment, and the direct election of United States Senators...Almost alone among American newspapers, the Tribune gave thorough coverage and serious attention to the women's rights movement...Like most Whigs, Greeley retained a strong sense of the moral qualities of rural and small town life, even while favoring industrialization" (p. 195).

William H. Seward was a Whig who supported subsidies to business. Like Warren G. Harding, who supported subsidies to the merchant marine 80 years later, "He endorsed subsidies for the Collins Steamship Company to help it compete against the British Cunard Line...Seward's interest in American commercial activity in the Pacific was not without prcedent among the Whigs. Daniel Webster, when he was secretary of state, extended the scope of the Monroe Doctrine to include the Hawaiian Islands.

The Whigs combined an interest in "improvements" with a fundamental conservatism, and they emphasized "protecting property, maintaining social order, and preserving a distinct cultural heritage." Whigs and pro-bank Democrats were called "conservatives" in the 1830s, a usage that does not seem altogether different from the way the term is used today. "As a party, the Whigs wanted conservatism and progress to blend their harmonious action" (p. 210). Daniel Webster, one of the best-remembered Whigs, "has aptly been called a broker-state politician who thought of government policy in terms of adjusting the claims of propertied interests to government favors...In his mind, social organization legitimated encouraging economic modernization through special favors to property."

Again it is a serious mistake to confuse policies that encourage modernization with modernization itself. The abolition of the central bank may have caused more modernsization than the conscious policies of the Whigs. Conscious policies may be destructive if our minds are not capable of grasping the complexities of market phenomena, a contribution of Friedrich A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises in the 1920s and 1930s.

Abraham Lincoln was especially attracted to internal improvements. "Of all items in the Whig program, internal improvements held the greatest appeal for the young Lincoln.He shared the typical Whig aspiration for humanity to triumph over its physical environment. His first political platform, announcing his unsuccessful candidacy for the legislature in 1832, stressed the need for internal improvements, adi to education, and easy credit in promoting the development of the West...Lincoln was also an orthodox Whig on the crucial tariff and banking issues...In the 1830s and 1840s Lincoln consistently defended both state and national banking. To him, the assault on the Bank of the United States was part of a general breakdown of respect for property and morality that was also manifesting itself in lynch law...Lincoln was still arguing for the constitutionality of a national bank as a congressman in 1848 and even raised the issue several times in his great debates with Douglas a decade later."

"Believing that only those who paid taxes should vote, he opposed universal manhood suffrage. In an aggressively male society, he advocated votes for women."

Quoted, p. 266, from Robert Kelley "Ideology and Political Culture from Jefferson to Nixon", American Historical Review, 82, June 1977, 545.

Lincoln was a big supporter of Henry Clay. When the Republicans replaced the Whigs, the new party system "revealed a recombination of the cultural elements that had made up the old one. Douglas Democrats had come to endorse economic development, while Republicans now endorsed the westward movement. On strictly economic issues, there was little difference between them save for the tariff." (p. 289)

Lincoln synthesized elements of Jacksonian political thought with Whiggery. "Lincoln took over what was best in Jacksonian Democracy, the commitment to the rights of the common man." Lincoln reasserted the importance of the Declaration of Independence and "the proposition that all men are created equal" became a positive goal for political action" (p. 291).

*William Appleman William, The Contours of American History. Chicago: Quadrangle Paperbacks, 1966, p. 38.

**Herbert Hoover, American Individualism. New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1922, p. 21.

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