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[41]

The Whig party, as the National Republicans had come to be called, was stunned by these defeats, and when Harrison ran against Van Buren in 1836, Van Buren carried forty-two of the fifty-six counties of New York State, Massachusetts wasted her vote on Webster, and Van Buren carried New England and had a popular majority over his three opponents. But the Whigs were now to have as an ally the influence most potent, perhaps, in the politics of a republic — a financial panic and an era of hard times. How potent this influence is in shaping the fortunes of parties and candidates the history of the United States has proved in later years. On President Van Buren was laid the responsibility for the long list of business failures, the monetary evils, and the commercial stagnation. “What constitutional or legal justification can Mr. Van Buren offer to the people of the United States for having brought upon them all their present difficulties?” was the language of a remonstrance drawn up by a committee of New York city merchants, in April, 1837. In the following November the Whigs (in an “off-year” ) carried New York city for the first time, as well as county after county in the State that had been considered Democratic beyond attack, and elected 100

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