[Marxism] RE Sean Wilentz on Whigs and Jacksonian Democrats

robert montgomery ilyenkova at gmail.com
Tue Oct 18 13:40:44 MDT 2005

"As Mark Lause points out, it was no accident
that many of the most radical workers had
been Whigs. And of the first Republican
president, Abraham Lincoln, had begun
his political career as a Whig."

Labor historian Bruce Laurie was surprised to find that the political
sympathies of antebellum Massachusetts workers' leaders were hardcore
Whiggish. I think this resulted from the influence of Wilentz's Chants
Democratic. As Mark L, Jim F and others have pointed out, the Whig
descendants of Hamilton were the party of big government, protective
tariffs, internal improvements (canals, highways, railroads etc)--
essentially proto-statists who wanted government to fund
infrastructure needed for industrial capitalism. They also feared the
centrifugal tendencies of the ultra-laissez faire Jacksonians; so they
could also be seen as the Party of Order. It's often missed that
Jackson's slogan "Special Privileges for None; Equal Opportunities for
All," was coined against the National Bank, and in favor of
decentralized banking and unbridled speculation. His main social base
was westering white males on the make. This isn't to romanticize the
Whigs who abolitionists dubbed the "Lords of the Loom" after their
mill owning leaders. When Reagan came along he reminded me of no one
as much as Andrew Jackson. The more interesting question is where
Wilentz comes from.
Bob M

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