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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The book is great inside but shows some age outside. Pages are unmarked and clean. Cover shows some rubbing and a bit of shelfwear, and spine is sunned. All in all, this is quite a nice copy of this study of twelve prominent Whigs.
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The Political Culture of the American Whigs Paperback – February 15, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0226354798 ISBN-10: 0226354792 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (February 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226354792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226354798
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniel Walker Howe is professor of history and chairman of the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More About the Author

Daniel Walker Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus, Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Book Prize, and the Silver Medal of the California Book Awards, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of The Political Culture of the American Whigs and Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. He lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on June 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book, originally published in 1979, Danial Walker Howe seeks to understand the ideological origins and development of American Whigs, a political party that emerged in the 1830s but collapsed in the first part of the 1850s. Led by such enigmatic politicians as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, the Whigs captured two presidential elections--in 1840 and 1848--and a host of state governments. This excellent book takes a largely biographical approach toward analyzing the key aspects of the Whigs.
In the process, Howe overturns the long-held perspective that the Whigs were aristocratic, rational, paternalistic, and economically stolid. Those were characterizations, he argues, that their political rivals, the Jacksonian Democrats, assigned to the Whigs. He suggests that the Whigs should be viewed, instead, as a party trying to deal evenhandedly with myriad practical political problems. They believed in moderation, self-restraint, and a "rational persuasion" that helped create a balanced political order, economic growth, and social harmony. They also seemed to share an underlying conviction that the Jacksonians demonstrated little common sense in dealing with the most divisive issues of the antebellum era: economic concerns, race relations, class tensions, and sectional rivalries.
Historian Daniel Walker Howe has eloquently called the Whig Party the champions of "the positive liberal state," which is arguably his most significant contribution to the reinterpretation of the Whigs. Howe wrote that "This ideal implied the belief that the state should actively seek `to promote the general welfare, raise the level of opportunity for all men, and aid all individuals to develop their full potentialities.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on January 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Whig Party is perhaps the most obscure major political party that has existed in U.S. history despite the fact that it elected two presidents, Harrison and Taylor, and was a key player in events leading to the Civil War.
But this book is not about the Whig Party, per se. The author finds that the general Whig philosophy and culture transcended the Whig Party. He explores the breadth of that thinking by profiling a dozen of the leading Whigs of the day from the worlds of politics, religion, business, and the legal system.
The Whigs could be considered an oddity in the Age of Jackson, which extolled the virtues and equality of the common man. The Whigs were a throwback to colonial times and to a country-party tradition where society was considered to be hierarchical with elites rightfully governing and controlling the society. To the Whigs, society was a balanced organism with its constituent parts accepting their places, while the Democrats were not unwilling to point out opposing interests among, say, producers versus non-producers. Not surprisingly, a majority of the well to do and other prominent citizens were Whigs in the mid-nineteenth century.
The author points out that the Whigs had little regard for party politics. For them, the political realm should not be a contest among those with differing conceptions of society. It was for politicians to reinforce and improve the social order. While the Jacksonian approach to social and economic affairs was generally one of laissez-faire emphasizing personal liberty and territorial expansion, the Whigs stressed self-control and government-orchestrated qualitative improvements in the country.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This well written book is a group portrait of the Whig party/movement. The Whigs were one of the components of the "second American party system." Following the demise of the Federalist party in the early 19th century, the Whigs emerged as an amalgam of former Federalists, Madisonian Democrats, and other groups opposed to the dominance of the Jacksonian Democratic Party. The Whigs existed as an important part of American life until the party fell apart under the dual stresses imposed by the crisis over slavery and territorial expansion.
Daniel Waler Howe's approach is to present a series of biographical sketches of major Whig figures, with one or two figures illustrating different important aspects of the Whig movement. The figures discussed include individuals who are still known well, such as John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, and less well known individuals like the preacher Lyman Beecher and the economic theorist Henry Carey. This is not a narrative history but a thematic exploration of the ideology and motivations of the Whig movement. Walker Howe's emphasis is not solely on political history, though he provides ample and excellent analysis of the political contributions of the Whigs, but also on how the Whigs reflected and channeled larger currents in American life.
The Whigs were both a political party and representatives of a broader movement aimed at reforming American society. Like all such movements, they were a coalition of different groups. A common theme among Whig partisans was a effort to reform American life and an interest in using governmental institutions to effect some of those changes.
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