Making (Up) History

This is NOT Donald Trump

This is NOT Donald Trump

As a history major one of my pet peeves is when they mangle history to make it fit an ideological or partisan purpose.


How an Outsider President Killed a Party
The Whigs chose power over principles when they nominated Zachary Taylor in 1848. The party never recovered.

It was summer, and a major U.S. political party had just chosen an inexperienced, unqualified, loutish, wealthy outsider with ambiguous party loyalties to be its presidential nominee. Some party luminaries thought he would help them win the general election. But many of the faithful were furious and mystified: How could their party compromise its ideals to such a degree?

Sound like 2016? This happened a century and a half ago.

Many have called Donald Trump’s unexpected takeover of a major political party unprecedented; but it’s not. A similar scenario unfolded in 1848, when General Zachary Taylor, a roughhewn career soldier who had never even voted in a presidential election, conquered the Whig Party.

A look back at what happened that year is eye-opening—and offers warnings for those on both sides of the aisle. Democrats quick to dismiss Trump should beware: Taylor parlayed his outsider appeal to defeat Lewis Cass, an experienced former Cabinet secretary and senator. But Republicans should beware, too: Taylor is often ranked as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history—and, more seriously, the Whig Party never recovered from his victory. In fact, just a few years after Taylor was elected under the Whig banner, the party dissolved—undermined by the divisions that caused Taylor’s nomination in the first place, and also by the loss of faith that followed it.


Blessed by an even more unpopular Democratic opponent whose party suffered more from the antislavery defections than the Whigs did, Taylor won—barely. He attracted only 47 percent of the popular vote, merely 60,000 more popular votes than Clay had in 1844, despite a population increase of 2 million. Turnout dropped from 78.9 percent in 1844 to 72.7 percent in 1848, reflecting public disgust with both candidates. Cass won 43 percent of the vote, and Van Buren won 10 percent. Taylor’s Electoral College margin of 36 was the slimmest in more than two decades. As hacks said the results “vindicated the wisdom of General Taylor’s nomination,” purists mourned the triumph of Taylor but not “our principles.” Greeley said losing in 1844 with a statesman like Clay strengthened Whig convictions: The 1848 election “demoralized” Whigs and undermined “the masses’” faith in the party. Greeley mourned this Pyrrhic victory: Whigs were “at once triumphant and undone.”

Greeley turned out to be right. Taylor was the last Whig president. His nomination had attempted to paper over the sectional tensions that would kill the party, but ultimately exacerbated them. Running a war hero mocked the Whig’s anti-war stand just as running a slaveholder failed to calm the divisive slavery issue. And, as a nonpartisan outsider, Taylor proved particularly unsuited to manage these internal party battles once elected.

Most dispiriting, Taylor, who made no pledges and had no principles, gave rank-and-file Whig voters nothing to champion, while alienating many of the most committed loyalists. In The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, the historian Michael Holt notes that Taylor’s victory triggered an “internal struggle for the soul of the Whig party”: was it more committed to seizing power or upholding principle? Underlying that debate was also a deeper question, still pressing today, about the role of fame, popularity, celebrity, in presidential campaigning—and American political leadership.

Unfortunately for the wobbling Whigs, Southerners then felt betrayed when Taylor took a nationalist approach brokering what became the Compromise of 1850. As a result, Holt writes, “Within a year of Taylor’s victory, hopes raised by Whigs’ performance in 1848 would be dashed. Within four years, they would be routed by” the Democrats. “Within eight, the Whig party would totally disappear as a functioning political organization.”

Neither destiny nor sorcery, history offers warning signs to avoid and points of light for inspiration. America’s modern two-party system is remarkably resilient. Republicans have recently enjoyed a surge in gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative wins. Still, Trump and the Republicans might want to study 1848 to see the damage even a winning insurgent can both signal and cause. And many Republicans might want to consider what is worse: the institutional problems mass defections by “Conscience Republicans” could bring about—or the moral ruin that could come from the ones who stay behind, choosing to pursue party power over principles.

You can read more about “Old Rough and Ready” here, and there is more about the Whigs here. I’m not gonna give you a long, boring history lesson, I just want to point out a few things that demonstrate that as usual, the truth is a lot more complicated than the narrative.

The Whigs were only around for 20 years, but they succeeded in electing two presidents. Both of them died in office. William Henry (Tippecanoe) Harrison was another former general and a war hero. He died in April 1841 after only one month in office.

Harrison was succeeded by John “His Accidency” Tyler, who was expelled from the Whig party in September 1841 after less than 6 months in office. He remained in office until 1845 when he was succeeded by Democrat James K. Polk.

Zach Taylor was a popular war hero, and both parties tried to recruit him, kinda like Ike a century later. His nomination took place on the 4th ballot at the 1848 party convention, and it was not a victory of the grassroots over the party elite. He was chosen by party insiders.

One thing that the article never mentions is that Zach died in office after only 16 months. He was replaced by Millard Fillmore who was the last Whig president. Fillmore lost the 1852 Whig nomination to General Winfield Scott on the 53rd ballot. Democrat Franklin Pierce won the election.

In the 24 years between Andrew and Abraham Lincoln we had 8 different presidents. None of them served more than a single full term. The White House changed hands between the parties 4 times, or 5 if you count the expulsion of Tyler.

That was a tumultuous time in our history. There was the issue of slavery, as well as the rapid growth and westward expansion of the country. We fought a war with Mexico and annexed what is now the southwest United States. The gold rush happened.

As you can see it is very simplistic to blame the demise of the Whig party on Zach Taylor. But so what if we did? The demise of the Whigs led to the birth of the Republican party and the election of Abraham Lincoln. The Grand Old Party has been around for 150 years now.

And if the GOP goes away because of Donald Trump, well then good riddance.

I’m sure something will come along and replace it.



About Myiq2xu™

I lost everything in a Fonzie scheme.
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109 Responses to Making (Up) History

  1. Myiq2xu™ says:

    I offer the author some positive feedback:

  2. Dora says:

    Great article. I love history too. Did you know that Zachery Taylor (for a short time) was the father-in-law of Jefferson Davis? I’ve always found that fascinating. Also fascinating to me is the cause of his death. I’m not sure if it has yet been determined, but back then it was rumored that President Taylor was poisoned.

    This is much more recent, but it goes along with the media’s attempt to change history.


    THEY NEARLY GOT AWAY WITH IT! Media and school officials tried to hide information about UCLA shooter’s religion

    UCLA student editor discovers that the shooter’s religion on his Twitter profile was changed – from Islam to Hindu – within hours of the campus shooting, which killed a UCLA professor as well as an ex-girlfriend in Minnesotastan.

    • Somebody says:

      The book I have says Taylor died from gastroenteritis, the result of overindulging in cold water and fruit on a sweltering Fourth of July. There are several versions detailing what he drank and ate that day……iced milk, cherries, raw vegetables…..gosh everybody has a different story about what he ate. What they all agree on is that he was a pig and his doctor had warned about overindulgence!!

      Do what?? Nothing unusual about that, LOL! Back in those days people may have believed you could die from eating too much…….but not today. A professor has put forth the hypothesis that Taylor was poisoned with arsenic. I would think that’s possible, but it’s also possible he contracted e-coli or some other type of foodborne pathogen.

      • 1539days says:

        At that time, gastrointestinal illness killed more people than cancer or heart disease.

        • Somebody says:

          No doubt, with no refrigeration and no antibiotics foodborne illnesses were quite serious and rampant. I just think it’s funny looking back that a doctor would blame such a thing on overeating.

  3. Myiq2xu™ says:

  4. Myiq2xu™ says:

    Concern troll is concerned.

  5. Myiq2xu™ says:


    Fake, fake, fake, fake, fake.

  6. DeniseVB says:

    Trump is more a principles over power sort of guy which pretty much caused his incredible success in his personal and professional life. GOPe is destroying the GOP with it’s stupid power over principles and NeverTrump b.s. He can’t be controlled.

    Nice little part of that article I caught, Democrats were struggling with the anti-slavery dems bailing out of that party. 😀

  7. DeniseVB says:


  8. Dora says:

    Shut Up Hillary! My paternal grandparents came here from Germany, just as Trump’s did and I find this VERY insulting!

    He’s of ‘German heritage’: Hillary baits fans into calling Trump a Nazi

  9. 1539days says:

    Abraham Lincoln started as a Whig but eventually ran as a Republican in 1860. In just 4 years, some Republicans decided that Lincoln was too divisive and formed two other parties, one with the Democrats. Lincoln was technically not nominated as a Republican, but the Republicans gave up quickly and endorsed Lincoln in 1864.

    • Dora says:

      Actually, Lincoln shouldn’t have been nominated at all. It was William Seward who won the most Republican delegates, but when they arrived at the convention center, they found themselves locked out. Lincoln’s delegates had taken over the hall and nominated their candidate. I guess they pulled what we would now call a Ted Cruz stunt.

      I didn’t know about this until recently when I watched the HBO series hosted by Kevin Spacey, which was very good IMO. So much for Honest Abe!

  10. Dora says:

    Shot on June 5th. Died the next day.

  11. Jadzia says:

    Here’s a rabbithole for you all on a Sunday afternoon:

    • Jadzia says:

      I think you have to make it dot-com; for some reason, blogspot always comes up for me as .fr

        • Jadzia says:

          The guy clearly is not a fan of conservatives, but I am enjoying the woo-woo loons, especially the guy who believes in psychic and ethereal vampires and claims that he met a 36th century time traveler in Alaska who asked to be taken to meet Art Bell.

    • blowme0bama says:

      .The compiler of that blog is as much a loon as anyone he profiled on that page.

  12. Myiq2xu™ says:

    History doesn’t really repeat itself. Humans repeat their mistakes.

  13. votermom says:

  14. Dora says:

    Just a silly accident. No big deal.

    • 1539days says:

      I have never had that kind of accident.

    • Myiq2xu™ says:

      He accidentally stuck a cigar in Monica Lewinsky’s coochie too.

      “I thought it was a humidor.”

      • 1539days says:

        I don’t think he actually did that. They just talked about it.

      • lyn says:

        F. March 31 Sexual Encounter

        On Sunday, March 31, 1996, according to Ms. Lewinsky, she and the President resumed their sexual contact.(264) Ms. Lewinsky was at the White House from 10:21 a.m. to 4:27 p.m. on that day.(265) The President was in the Oval Office from 3:00 to 5:46 p.m.(266) His only call while in the Oval Office was from 3:06 to 3:07 p.m.(267) Mrs. Clinton was in Ireland.(268)

        According to Ms. Lewinsky, the President telephoned her at her desk and suggested that she come to the Oval Office on the pretext of delivering papers to him.(269) She went to the Oval Office and was admitted by a plainclothes Secret Service agent.(270) In her folder was a gift for the President, a Hugo Boss necktie.(271)

        In the hallway by the study, the President and Ms. Lewinsky kissed. On this occasion, according to Ms. Lewinsky, “he focused on me pretty exclusively,” kissing her bare breasts and fondling her genitals.(272) At one point, the President inserted a cigar into Ms. Lewinsky’s vagina, then put the cigar in his mouth and said: “It tastes good.”(273) After they were finished, Ms. Lewinsky left the Oval Office and walked through the Rose Garden.(274)

  15. Myiq2xu™ says:

  16. Dora says:

    • DandyTIger says:

      What’s “THE R…”? Inquiring minds…

    • 1539days says:

      He’s a member of a Latino legal organization with “La Raza” in its name, not the infamous national organization “The National Council of La Raza.” People need a better reason than that to opposed a biased judge.

      • WMCB says:

        Whether officially affiliated or not, you don’t put “La Raza” as the name of your org by accident.

        Why is it that people can say proudly that their ethnicity is a front and center, driving force of their politics and opposition to US immigration law, but if anyone notices or points out that this is what they are BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION doing, it’s horrible bigotry?

        People are sick to that double standard. If you want to make your ethnicity the basis of your politcs, go right ahead. But don’t cry foul then when others assume that your ethnicity might have a wee bit to do with your politics – when YOU are the one that said it did to begin with.

        Either everyone can talk about ethnicity as it relates to politics, or no one can. Pick one. Because this “We can, but you can’t” is getting old.

  17. mothy67 says:

    I was in a pub last night someone played Uptown Funk. I spent close to 20 years behind the stick. Music is a yuuuge part of people going out. It brings people together. In grained in me I watch people seriously 20 years on West 46th. I knew it was Trump almost a year ago. I am not gifted but I can take a pulse. Largely ignored by pundits is that he makes people smile. Bill Kristol is the guy you never want your sister to date. Never Trump people are in laws. Trump is that Uncle at Thanksgiving that breaks the ice. He won when me again berated him about women and he said well sure Rosie. We are all assholes. The opposite is true of Hillary. She’s the one at dinner everyone secretly hates. When I was a bar keep I dealt with street hookers and Wall Street guys. Not a big diff. Local pub has a tranny. Guess what no one cares. She is not a freak showand I say she because thats what I think not because some tool on the telly tells me how to think. Seriously I have known this person in passing for 20 years. Never until Bambi made bathrooms an issue did I moniter her/his bathroom preference. Elitists try to paint po folks as idiots. White trash has heart and are far more honest. I watch. Uptown Funk makes people happy sexy everyone feels the beat. I am a broke assed steel town kid. Yeppers I went to college lived in London, Philly, NYC. The way elitest media portrays poor people is absurd. They lie and take high ground.a woman I know worked on The Laramie Project. Small world I worked with Barbara Pitt in Philly then by chance I got a job tending bar next to Minetta Lane Theater where Trials o f Oscar Wilde was playing and Barb was a writer. I am a white trash fagget. I so enjoy wealthy people telling me how I feel. My Aunt Suzie is 11 years older than me does not like the gays. She was 14 trying to give blood when I been a catastrophe. The winners mock poverty. I think its fear. My Aunt Suzie had a kid at 13 that can happen to anyone. She no like queers. Sorry Rachel Madcow your hyper lebianism does not define dick. I am capable of more than one emotion. Suzie went to community college. I was 12 she had four kids. Guess what simple fuck raised them. Truth she does not like the gheys.
    Bloody wanker she is not afraid to dislike me. Heavens Iam a fucking asshole.
    Trump had me at well Rosie. So tired of some clown telling me how I feel.
    I’d like to lay to rest an event that took place when I was 16 Beaten pissed on. Guys with hard ons peeing on me. We know what you want. I did not have a safe space. I kicked in a basement window and cried on cold cement. Poor poor pitiful me. Nope shut the fuck up. Turn off the weep faucet. Crud was thrown away. Her mother did not call her for three years. Never was my brat going to be a victim. She got straight A’s. Her parents wanted to throw a 5th grade graduation party. I had to tell them she is 9 and just finished 4th. They don’t even know what grade she is in

  18. votermom says:

    • Jadzia says:

      HA HA HA. I just took away a bunch of (hardcover and not cheap) books that got colored on. Now my mission is to get the girls to stop ripping their drawing paper into teeny tiny pieces that migrate throughout the house.

      • Jadzia says:

        And what is the scariest is that my kids are, relatively speaking, pretty well behaved.

      • Lulu says:

        We kept THOSE books to show and embarrass the now adult kids. I also kept a checkbook where my daughter was “writing” checks. She had put it in her purse and carried with her to my parents to show them her checks. She had even filched a gold pen. Dad gave her a little calculator and my mom made her a fake checkbook after taking the real one away from her. I think she was three.

  19. Myiq2xu™ says:

    • DandyTIger says:

      I seem to remember a plan to ban and confiscate guns was involved.

      OK, yeah, that some serious hyperbole. And it would be irresponsible not to have some hyperbole. 🙂 But the progs are getting even more nasty than we’ve seen in a long time.

  20. Myiq2xu™ says:

    They were just kidding around before. NOW they are really gonna let him have it.

  21. Myiq2xu™ says:

    Scott Adams:

    I’ve decided to come off the sidelines and endorse a candidate for President of the United States.

    I’ll start by reminding readers that my politics don’t align with any of the candidates. My interest in the race has been limited to Trump’s extraordinary persuasion skills. But lately Hillary Clinton has moved into the persuasion game – and away from boring facts and policies – with great success. Let’s talk about that.

    This past week we saw Clinton pair the idea of President Trump with nuclear disaster, racism, Hitler, the Holocaust, and whatever else makes you tremble in fear.

    That is good persuasion if you can pull it off because fear is a strong motivator. It is also a sharp pivot from Clinton’s prior approach of talking about her mastery of policy details, her experience, and her gender. Trump took her so-called “woman card” and turned it into a liability. So Clinton wisely pivoted. Her new scare tactics are solid-gold persuasion. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see Clinton’s numbers versus Trump improve in June, at least temporarily, until Trump finds a counter-move.

    The only downside I can see to the new approach is that it is likely to trigger a race war in the United States. And I would be a top-ten assassination target in that scenario because once you define Trump as Hitler, you also give citizens moral permission to kill him. And obviously it would be okay to kill anyone who actively supports a genocidal dictator, including anyone who wrote about his persuasion skills in positive terms. (I’m called an “apologist” on Twitter, or sometimes just Joseph Goebbels).

    If Clinton successfully pairs Trump with Hitler in your mind – as she is doing – and loses anyway, about a quarter of the country will think it is morally justified to assassinate their own leader. I too would feel that way if an actual Hitler came to power in this country. I would join the resistance and try to take out the Hitler-like leader. You should do the same. No one wants an actual President Hitler.

    So I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety. Trump supporters don’t have any bad feelings about patriotic Americans such as myself, so I’ll be safe from that crowd. But Clinton supporters have convinced me – and here I am being 100% serious – that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump. So I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

    As I have often said, I have no psychic powers and I don’t know which candidate would be the best president. But I do know which outcome is most likely to get me killed by my fellow citizens. So for safety reason, I’m on team Clinton.

    My prediction remains that Trump will win in a landslide based on his superior persuasion skills. But don’t blame me for anything President Trump does in office because I endorse Clinton.

    The rest of you are on your own. Good luck.

  22. AFVet says:

    The positive commonsense attitude has been lacking in this Country ever since Obama was elected.
    Let’s try this one.

  23. WMCB says:

  24. DandyTIger says:

    Cindy Lou (from the 2000 Grinch movie) all grown up:

  25. Myiq2xu™ says:

  26. helenk3 says:

    first it was bruce jenner now it is 500 year old trees

    • taw46 says:

      EU wants citizens to login with government issued ID cards? They don’t hide anything anymore. Full control.

  27. Venus says:

    The left, the MSM and the #NeverTrumps are all justifying the attacks on Trump supporters by people waving Mexican flag and burning the American one.
    Anyone who doesn’t vote for Trump (and that includes not voting at all) is voting for that anti-America sect.

  28. Dora says:


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