THE RISE OF THE WHIGS
=Jackson’s Measures Arouse Opposition.=—Measures so decided, policies so radical, and conduct so high-handed could not fail to arouse against Jackson a deep and exasperated opposition. The truth is the conduct of his entire administration profoundly disturbed the business and finances of the country. It was accompanied by conditions similar to those which existed under the Articles of Confederation. A paper currency, almost as unstable and irritating as the worthless notes of revolutionary days, flooded the country, hindering the easy transaction of business. The use of federal funds for internal improvements, so vital to the exchange of commodities which is the very life of industry, was blocked by executive vetoes. The Supreme Court, which, under Marshall, had held refractory states to their obligations under the Constitution, was flouted; states’ rights judges, deliberately selected by Jackson for the bench, began to sap and undermine the rulings of Marshall. The protective tariff, under which the textile industry of New England, the iron mills of Pennsylvania, and the wool, flax, and hemp farms of the West had flourished, had received a severe blow in the compromise of 1833 which promised a steady reduction of duties. To cap the climax, Jackson’s party, casting aside the old and reputable name of Republican, boldly chose for its title the term “Democrat,” throwing down the gauntlet to every conservative who doubted the omniscience of the people. All these things worked together to evoke an opposition that was sharp and determined.
[Illustration: AN OLD CARTOON RIDICULING CLAY’S TARIFF AND INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM]
=Clay and the National Republicans.=—In this opposition movement, leadership fell to Henry Clay, a son of Kentucky, rather than to Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. Like Jackson, Clay was born in a home haunted by poverty. Left fatherless early and thrown upon his own resources, he went from Virginia into Kentucky where by sheer force of intellect he rose to eminence in the profession of law. Without the martial gifts or the martial spirit of Jackson, he slipped more easily into the social habits of the East at the same time that he retained his hold on the affections of the boisterous West. Farmers of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky loved him; financiers of New York and Philadelphia trusted him. He was thus a leader well fitted to gather the forces of opposition into union against Jackson.