Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln

Overview

For more than twenty years Michael F. Holt has been considered one of the leading specialists in the political history of the United States. Political Parties and American Political Development from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln is a collection of some of his more important shorter studies on the politics of nineteenth-century America.

The collection focuses on the mass political parties that emerged in the 1820s and their role in broader political developments from ...

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Overview

For more than twenty years Michael F. Holt has been considered one of the leading specialists in the political history of the United States. Political Parties and American Political Development from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln is a collection of some of his more important shorter studies on the politics of nineteenth-century America.

The collection focuses on the mass political parties that emerged in the 1820s and their role in broader political developments from that decade to 1865. Holt includes essays on the Democratic, Antimasonic, Whig, and Know Nothing parties, as well as one on Abraham Lincoln's relationship with the congressional wing of the Republican party during the Civil War. Almost all essays touch on the broad question of the role of partisan politics in explaining the outbreak of the war. Individual essays address the following questions as well: What explains the birth and death of powerful third parties? What was the relationship among economic conditions, party performance in office (especially legislative performance), and the mobilization of an unprecedented number of voters between 1836 and 1840? Why did the Whigs find it necessary to nominate military hero Zachary Taylor as their presidential candidate in 1848? What explains the death of the Whig party? What role did ethnoreligious issues and the Know Nothing party play in the realignment of the 1850s and the ultimate triumph of the Republican party? In what ways did the continuation of two-party competition after 1860 help the North win the Civil War?

Most of the essays have been published previously over a twenty-year span, but there are also two new pieces. "The Mysterious Disappearance of the American Whig party," originally delivered as the Commonwealth Fund Lecture at University College London in February, 1990, seeks to explain why the Whig party died in the 1850s. This essay contrasts the fate of the Whig party with the fates of the Republican party in the 1930s and 1970s and the British Conservative party in the 1840s and 1850s - parties that survived similar, indeed graver, challenges than those to which the Whigs succumbed. In addition, Holt has written and excellent introduction in which he explains how he came to write the essays and reflects upon them in light of the current state of political history as a discipline.

Political Parties and American Political Development from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln offers provocative insights into both the history of nineteenth-century politics and the way it is studied.

LSU Press

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This valuable collection brings together numerous important but scattered essays by Holt (history, Univ. of Virginia) written from 1970 to 1990 concerning the influence of political third parties in the 19th century. Holt's introduction demonstrates the growth of his thinking on the development and behavior of third parties and the connection of partisan politics to the outbreak of the Civil War. Holt maps out a strategy for further analysis of these and other themes concerning the third-party movement, citing Richard McCormick's The Party Period and Public Policy (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1986) as a useful integrated history of rapid political and party changes. Holt's essays suggested or generated much analysis of 19th-century party politics; his overriding conclusion that elections typically have been referenda on past party performance says much about voter and party behavior that is as helpful in understanding the vigorous performance of third parties a century ago as it is in making sense of the relative stability of today's two-party system. A solid work that belongs in all academic library collections.-- Susan E. Parker, Harvard Law Sch. Lib.
Booknews
A collection of some of Holt's (American history, U. of Virginia) more important shorter studies on the politics of 19th-century America, focusing on the mass political parties that emerged in the 1820s and their role in broader political developments from that decade to 1865. Most of the essays have been published previously over a 20-year span. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807126097
  • Publisher: LSU Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael F. Holt is the Langbourne M Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Forging a Majority: The Formation of the Republican Party in Pittsburgh, 1848--1860 and The Political Crisis of the 1850s and coeditor of A Master's Due: Essays in Honor of David Herbert Donald.

LSU Press

Michael F. Holt is the Lanbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Forging a Majority: The Formation of the Republican Party in Pittsburgh, 1848 - 1860, and The Political Crisis of the 1850s and coeditor of A Master's Due: Essays in Honor of David Herbert Donald.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
The Democratic Party, 1828-1860 33
The Antimasonic and Know Nothing Parties 88
The Election of 1840, Voter Mobilization, and the Emergence of the Second American Party System: A Reappraisal of Jacksonian Voting Behavior 151
Winding Roads to Recovery: The Whig Party from 1844 to 1848 192
The Mysterious Disappearance of the American Whig Party 237
The Politics of Impatience: The Origins of Know Nothingism 265
The New Political History and the Civil War Era 291
Two Roads to Sumter 303
The Problem of Civil War Causation 313
Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Union 323
Index 355
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