Whiggism (in North America sometimes spelled Whigism) is a political philosophy that grew out of the Parliamentarian faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651). The Whigs' key policy positions were the supremacy of Parliament, as opposed to that of the king, tolerance of Protestant dissenters and opposition to a "Papist" (Roman Catholic) on the throne, especially James II or one of his descendants.
Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
Roundheads were supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War (1641–1652). Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I of England and his supporters, known as the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the principle of the 'divine right of kings'. The goal of the Roundhead party was to give the Parliament supreme control over executive administration of the country/kingdom.
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, formed an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland between 1639 and 1651. The English Civil War proper has become the best-known of these conflicts; it included the abolition of the monarchy and the execution of the kingdom's monarch, Charles I, by the English Parliament in 1649.
After the huge success (from the Whig point of view) of the Glorious Revolution of 1688–1689, Whiggism dominated English and British politics until about 1760, although in practice the Whig political group splintered into different factions. After 1760, the Whigs lost power – apart from sharing it in some short-lived coalition governments – but Whiggism fashioned itself into a generalised belief system that emphasised innovation and liberty and was strongly held by about half of the leading families in England and Scotland, as well as most merchants, dissenters, and the middle classes. The opposing Tory position was held by the other great families, the Church of England, most of the landed gentry and officers of the army and the navy. Whigs also opposed Jacobitism, a movement of traditionalists tolerant of Roman Catholicism, with substantial Tory overlaps. While in power, Whigs frequently referred to all opponents as "Jacobites" or dupes of Jacobites.
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English politicians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange, who was James's nephew and son-in-law. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.
Whiggism originally referred to the Whigs of the British Isles, but the name of "Old Whigs" was largely adopted by the American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies. Following independence, American Whiggism became known as republicanism. The term "Old Whigs" was also used in Great Britain for those Whigs who opposed Robert Walpole as part of the Country Party.
The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe that consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller isles. They have a total area of about 315,159 km2 and a combined population of almost 72 million, and include two sovereign states, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The islands of Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark, and their neighbouring smaller islands, are sometimes also taken to be part of the British Isles, even though, as islands off the coast of France, they do not form part of the archipelago.
Patriots were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.
Another meaning of whiggism given by the Oxford English Dictionary is "moderate or antiquated Liberalism".
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.
Quickly following the adoption of "whig" as the name of a political faction, the word "whiggism" was already in use by the 1680s. In 1682, Edmund Hickeringill published his History of Whiggism.In 1702, writing satirically in the guise of a Tory, Daniel Defoe asserted: "We can never enjoy a settled uninterrupted Union and Tranquility in this Nation, till the Spirit of Whiggisme, Faction, and Schism is melted down like the Old-Money". The name probably originates from a shortening of Whiggamore referring to the Whiggamore Raid.
Edmund Hickeringill (1631–1708) was an English churchman who lived during the period of the Commonwealth and the Restoration.
A Tory is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved throughout history. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase "God, King, and Country". Tories generally advocate monarchism, and were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage, opposed to the liberalism of the Whig faction.
Daniel Defoe, born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, which is second only to the Bible in its number of translations. He has been seen as one of the earliest proponents of the English novel, and helped to popularise the form in Britain with others such as Aphra Behn and Samuel Richardson. Defoe wrote many political tracts and often was in trouble with the authorities, including a spell in prison. Intellectuals and political leaders paid attention to his fresh ideas and sometimes consulted with him.
The true origins of what became known as whiggism lie in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the power struggle between the Parliament of England and King Charles I, which eventually turned into the English Civil Wars, but only after the example of the successful use of violent opposition to the king set by the Bishops' Wars, which were fought between the same king in his capacity as king of Scotland on the one side and the Parliament of Scotland and the Church of Scotland on the other. However, the immediate origins of the Whigs and whiggism were in the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678 to 1681, in which a "country party" battled a "court party" in an unsuccessful attempt to exclude James, Duke of York, from succeeding his brother Charles II as king of England, Scotland and Ireland. This crisis was prompted by Charles's lack of a legitimate heir, by the discovery in 1673 that James was a Roman Catholic, and by the so-called "Popish Plot" of 1678.
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it merged with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Charles I was the monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.
While a major principle of whiggism was opposition to popery, that was always much more than a mere religious preference in favour of Protestantism, although most Whigs did have such a preference. Sir Henry Capel outlined the principal motivation of the cry of "no popery" when he said in the House of Commons on 27 April 1679:
From Popery came the notion of a standing army and arbitrary Power... Formerly the Crown of Spain, and now France, supports this root of Popery amongst us; but lay Popery flat, and there's an end of arbitrary Government and power. It is a mere chimera, or notion, without Popery.
Although they were unsuccessful in preventing the accession of the Duke of York to the throne, the Whigs in alliance with William of Orange brought him down in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. By that event, a new supremacy of parliament was established, which itself was one of the principles of whiggism, much as it had been the chief principle of the Roundheads in an earlier generation.
The great Whiggish achievement was the Bill of Rights of 1689.It made Parliament, not the Crown, supreme. It established free elections to the Commons (although they were mostly controlled by the local landlord) free speech in parliamentary debates, and gave all Britons freedom from ‘cruel or unusual punishment’.
Lee Ward (2008) argues that the philosophical origins of Whiggism came in James Tyrrell's Patriarcha Non Monarcha (1681), John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1689) and Algernon Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government (1698).All three were united in opposing Sir Robert Filmer's defence of divine right and absolute monarchy. Tyrrell propounded a moderate Whiggism which interpreted England's balanced and mixed constitution "as the product of a contextualized social compact blending elements of custom, history, and prescription with inherent natural law obligations". However, Sidney emphasised the main themes of republicanism and based Whig ideology in the sovereignty of the people by proposing a constitutional reordering that would both elevate the authority of Parliament and democratise its forms. Sidney also emphasised classical republican notions of virtue. Ward says that Locke's liberal Whiggism rested on a radically individualist theory of natural rights and limited government. Tyrrell's moderate position came to dominate Whiggism and British constitutionalism as a whole from 1688 to the 1770s. The more radical ideas of Sidney and Locke, argues Ward, became marginalised in Britain, but emerged as a dominant strand in American republicanism. The issues raised by the Americans, starting with the Stamp Act crisis of 1765, ripped Whiggism apart in a battle of parliamentary sovereignty (Tyrrell) versus popular sovereignty (Sidney and Locke).
Whiggism took different forms in England and Scotland, even though from 1707 the two nations shared a single parliament.While English whiggism had at its heart the power of parliament, creating for that purpose a constitutional monarchy and a permanently Protestant succession to the throne, Scottish Whigs gave a higher priority to using power for religious purposes, including maintaining the authority of the Church of Scotland, justifying the Protestant Reformation and emulating the Covenanters.
There were also Whigs in the North American colonies and while whiggism there had much in common with that in Great Britain, it too had its own priorities. In the unfolding of the American Revolution such whiggism became known as republicanism.
In India, Prashad (1966) argues that the profound influence of the ideas of Edmund Burke introduced Whiggism into the mainstream of Indian political thought. The Indians adopted the basic assumptions of Whiggism, especially the natural leadership of an elite, the political incapacity of the masses, the great partnership of the civil society and the best methods of achieving social progress, analysing the nature of society and the nation and depicting the character of the ideal state.
The Whigs were a political faction and then a political party in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, they contested power with their rivals, the Tories. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a central role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders, who were Roman Catholic. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and remained totally dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. The Whig Supremacy (1715–1760) was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714 and the failed Jacobite rising of 1715 by Tory rebels. The Whigs thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local offices. The Party's hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the age of the Whig Oligarchy. The first great leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government through the period 1721–1742 and whose protégé Henry Pelham led from 1743 to 1754.
Whig history is an approach to historiography that presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy.
The Rye House Plot of 1683 was a plan to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother James, Duke of York. The royal party went from Westminster to Newmarket to see horse races and were expected to make the return journey on 1 April 1683, but because there was a major fire in Newmarket on 22 March, the races were cancelled, and the King and the Duke returned to London early. As a result, the planned attack never took place.
The Tories were members of two political parties which existed sequentially in the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of Great Britain and later the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. The first Tories emerged in 1678 in England, when they opposed the Whig-supported Exclusion Bill which set out to disinherit the heir presumptive James, Duke of York, who eventually became James II of England and VII of Scotland. This party ceased to exist as an organised political entity in the early 1760s, although it was used as a term of self-description by some political writers. A few decades later, a new Tory party would rise to establish a hold on government between 1783 and 1830, with William Pitt the Younger followed by Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool.
The Rockingham Whigs in 18th century British politics were a faction of the Whigs led by Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, from about 1762 until his death in 1782. The Rockingham Whigs briefly held power from 1765 to 1766 and again in 1782, and otherwise were usually in opposition to the various ministries of the period.
The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1679 through 1681 in the reign of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. Three Exclusion bills sought to exclude the King's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic. None became law. Two new parties formed. The Tories were opposed to this exclusion while the "Country Party", who were soon to be called the Whigs, supported it. While the matter of James's exclusion was not decided in Parliament during Charles's reign, it would come to a head only three years after he took the throne, when he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Finally, the Act of Settlement 1701 decided definitively that Catholics were to be excluded from the English throne.
Whig or Whigs may refer to:
Mixed government is a form of government that combines elements of democracy (polity), aristocracy and monarchy, making impossible their respective degenerations which are conceived as anarchy, oligarchy and tyranny. The idea was popularized during classical antiquity in order to describe the stability, the innovation and the success of the republic as a form of government developed under the Roman constitution.
Modern republicanism is a guiding political philosophy of the United States that has been a major part of American civic thought since its founding. It stresses liberty and unalienable individual rights as central values, making people sovereign as a whole; rejects monarchy, aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be virtuous and faithful in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption. American republicanism was articulated and first practiced by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century. For them, "republicanism represented more than a particular form of government. It was a way of life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, and a total rejection of aristocracy."
The term "Radical" during the late 18th-century and early 19th-century identified proponents of democratic reform, in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radical Movement.
Buckinghamshire is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885.
The Ultra-Tories were an Anglican faction of British and Irish politics that appeared in the 1820s in opposition to Catholic emancipation. They were later called the "extreme right-wing" of British and Irish politics. They broke away from the governing party in 1829 after the passing of the Catholic Relief Act 1829. Many of those labelled Ultra-Tory rejected the label and saw themselves as upholders of the Whig Revolution settlement of 1689. The Ultras were defending "a doctrine essentially similar to that which ministerial Whigs had held since the days of Burnet, Wake, Gibson and Potter".
William Atwood was an English lawyer, known also as a political and historical writer.
Edmund Bohun (1645–1699) was an English writer on history and politics, a publicist in the Tory interest.
The Loyal Parliament was the only Parliament of England of King James II, in theory continuing from May 1685 to July 1687, but in practice sitting during 1685 only. It gained its name because at the outset most of its members were loyal to the new king. The Whigs, who had previously resisted James's inheriting the throne, were outnumbered both in the Commons and in the Lords.
In Britain in the period from the 1680s to the 1740s, and especially under the Walpole ministry from 1730 to 1743, the country Party was a coalition of Tories and disaffected Whigs. It was a movement rather than an organised party and had no formal structure or leaders. It claimed to be a nonpartisan force fighting for the nation's interest—the whole "country"—against the self-interested actions of the court party, that is the politicians in power in London. Country men believed the court party was corrupting Britain by using patronage to buy support and was threatening English and Scottish liberties and the proper balance of authority by shifting power from Parliament to the prime minister. It sought to constrain the court by opposing standing armies, calling for annual elections to Parliament, and wanted to fix power in the hands of the landed gentry rather than the royal officials, urban merchants or bankers. It opposed any practices it saw as corruption.
The Irish general election, 1713 returned members to serve in the House of Commons. The election took place during a high-point for party politics in Ireland, and saw heavy losses for the Tories and the emergence of a Whiggish majority in the commons.