Whigs


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Whigs

 

a British political party that existed from the 17th century to the 19th.

The Whig Party arose at the end of the 1670’s as a faction representing the interests of those noblemen who were be-coming bourgeois, and of the big commercial and financial bourgeoisie. These groups were opposed to the restoration of royal absolutism. After the coup d’etat of 1688-89 the Whigs passed the“Bill of Rights” and other measures aimed at asserting the supremacy of Parliament. The Whigs’ stay in power was marked by increased parliamentary corruption, a growth of the state debt, and the flourishing of speculation of the stock exchange, as well as land confiscations in Ireland. After a short interval the Whigs, led by R. Walpole and later by W. Pitt the Elder, were the ruling party from 1714 to 1762. In the 1760’s, 1770’s, and 1780’s, in the course of a complicated regrouping of political forces, a number of Whigs went over to the Tory Party. During the Great French Revolution the more influential Whig faction (whose ideological leader was E. Burke) actively supported war against France, while another Whig group, led by C. Fox, condemned it. During the first third of the 19th century the rapid growth of the economic power of the bourgeoisie strengthened the party’s liberal wing and prompted the Whigs to support the demands for a parliamentary reform, which, however, was adopted in 1832 in a very limited form. After this reform, the Whigs, who alternated in office with the Tories, conducted an antiworker policy and attempted to suppress the Chartist movement. In the middle of the 19th century the Whig Party became the party representing the interests of the industrial and commerical bourgeoisie. After uniting with other political groups, such as the free traders, the Whigs formed the Liberal Party of Great Britain.

REFERENCES

Marx, K.“Vybory v Anglii: Tori i Vigi.” In K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8.
Williams, B. The Whig Supremacy, 1714-1760, 2nd ed. Oxford, 1962.

E. B. CHERNIAK


Whigs

 

a bourgeois party in the USA during the period 1834-54.

The Whig Party included northern industrialists, southern planters whose economic interests were linked with the North, and some farmers. The Whigs opposed the strengthening of federal power and favored the development of industry not only in the North but in the South as well. The Whigs were twice victorious in presidential elections (in 1840 and 1848). Diversified in its composition, the Whig Party had fallen apart by 1854: the northern Whigs joined the newly created Republican Party, and the so-called Cotton Whigs went over to the Democratic Party.

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