One student at the recently concluded Abbeville Institute Summer School asked me to do a show on Southern Whigs.

I decided to do more than that.

Students usually get the cartoon version of most concepts, issues, or events in American history. In this case, the Whigs are the party of Henry Clay, the nationalists who favored the fusion of big government and big business that led to a big mess.

That is party true, but lost in this narrative are the real Whigs, those who opposed King Andrew and the potential use of force against South Carolina during the nullification “crisis.”

Included in this list are John Tyler–whom I call the greatest president in American history–John Floyd, Hugh Lawson White, and Abel P. Upshur. They were Whigs in the truest sense. They opposed unconstitutional government and unconstitutional executive abuse.

Henry Clay despised this wing of “his” party which is why he and other members of the “national republican” wing of the Whigs booted Tyler when he refused to toe the line as president.

By the way, Lincoln was a “Henry Clay Whig.” Figures.

I wrote about both Tyler and Upshur in my Forgotten Conservatives in American History and about Tyler’s presidency in my 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America (which you can pick up for $1.99!). He was one of those who “tried to save her.”

p.s. Don’t forget to pre-order How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America. Go to and follow the simple rules for your goodies and contest. And while you’re at it, make #blamehamilton your favorite phrase on Twitter. Everyone should be doing it.

Brion McClanahan
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