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Whigs of Alton

"Whigs of Alton"

This 1840 political broadside urges Whig voters of Alton, Illinois to attend a rally on behalf of their presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison. Identified here as "Old Tip," Harrison was widely promoted by Whigs as the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe in the War of 1812. The young Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois state legislator, traveled widely in the state while campaigning for Harrison. The campaign of 1840 introduced what historians call the United States' "Second Party System." The Whig Party emerged in that year as a viable opponent to the followers of Andrew Jackson who had coalesced into the Democratic Party. Where Democrats often advocated a laissez-faire, or "let alone" policy in economic and social life, Whigs actively sought to use government policy to promote economic development and moral improvement. Where Democrats identified themselves as a "white man's party," some local Whig organizations permitted women, who could not vote, to take part in other campaign activities. A few influential northern Whigs came to entertain the idea of abolishing African-American slavery as well.

For more information about politics in the 19th century, please look at Lincoln/Net's Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860 Web site.

Permission: Chicago Historical Society.
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project