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15 T H E W H I G E R A , 1 8 3 5 - 1 8 5 0 NDERTHE REVISED constitution the people of the west gained an effective voice in the affairs of the state, marking a quarter century of progress . The two-party system that appeared on the eve of the Constitutional Convention of 1835 created a healthy and fruitful competition. For the first fifteen years of this period the Whig party held sway, but in time it became overconfident of its support and the Democrats gained the upper hand. They, too, proved to be capable custodians of the state's flourishingreputation. Many Prompt Improvements A handsome new state capitol was completed in 1840 under the direction of architects Ithiel Town, A. J. Davis, and David Paton. Built of local stone carved by Scottish stonemasons and designed in the Grecian Doric style, it came to be considered one of the most perfect examples of its kind in the United States. During this period North Carolina rendered essential aid to the construction of railroads and to the opening of schools for the "deaf, dumb, and blind," and an asylum for the insane. A state system of "common schools" was developed, and by 1860 it ranked as the best in the South and one of the best in the nation. The basis of taxation was reformed, suffrage laws were broadened, criminal lawswere liberalized, the legal status of women improved, enrollment at the University of North Carolina grew from eighty-nine in 1836 to well over four hundred by 1860, and many new academies and colleges were founded. As the literacy rate increased , more newspapers were establishedand more books and pamphlets published . Agriculture flourished and new factories were opened while wealth and commerce grew. The yearsbefore the tragic Civil Warwere the most progressive North Carolina had known since its first permanent settlers arrived more than two hundred yearsbefore. These great changes were made possible asaresult of new western strength in the political arena. The development of two competing political parties compelled the leadership of each to contend for support, and that produced ideas 282 U *Cr 283 The Whig Em, 1835-1850 When the old capitol burned in June 1831, a struggle began immediatelyto move the state capital to Fayetteville, head of navigation on the Cape Fear River. Variouspolitical combinations , however, resulted in the rebuilding of the capitol in Raleigh, and this handsome new structure was occupied in 1840. (North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh) and effective plans for the publicgood. The new Whig party initiated an appealing and constructive program based on ideas advanced by Archibald D. Murphey many years earlier. His proposals were well known and their implementation had been anticipated by progressive North Carolinians for a quarter of a century. At the first election after the people approved the changes in the constitution , Edward Bishop Dudley, aWhig born in the eastern county ofOnslow but now a resident of Wilmington, was elected governor. He had represented the Wilmington District in Congress from 1829 to 1831, but refused to run for another term, declaring that Congress wasnot a fit place for an honest person. An early advocate of constitutional reform and state support of internal improvements and education, he was a leader in the formation of the Whig party. In the popular election for governor, Dudley defeated the incumbent, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., by slightly over 4,000 votes; when he ran for reelection two yearslater,opposed byformergovernor John Branch, he won by a large majority. In 1838 the Whigs also gained control of both houses of the GeneralAssembly. An outside event overwhich the Whigs had no control contributed in large 284 North Carolina through four Centuries Pride in the statewas raised byWilliam Gaston's patrioticsong, "The Old North State," published in 1844. (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) 28s The Whig Era, 1835-1850 measure to the successof their program. During the presidential administration of Andrew Jackson all federal debts were paid, and a surplus mounted in the treasury through the sale of public land and the collection of a protective tariff. This proved to be embarrassingto the administration, assoutherners would have been pleased to see the tariff abolished while northern manufacturerswanted it retained. When its opponents began to discuss ways to dispose of the money, a solution wasfound in an act of Congress of 1836 under which allfunds in excess of $5 million would be distributed to the states in four...


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