The Whigs, while strong with capitalists and conservative citizens, did not attract the masses of the people; and they had little hope of success except with a candidate who could inspire popular enthusiasm and draw a considerable body of voters from the rival party.
this accounts for their setting aside in three elections—1840, 1848, and 1852—their historic representatives, and taking in their stead candidates prominent only as military men, and having little or no identification with the policy of the party.
Their convention meeting at Philadelphia
in June, 1848, nominated on the fourth ballot General Zachary Taylor
His selection had become probable for some months, though other candidates did not yield without a contest.
, identified with the history of the party, and more than any one representing its general spirit, received considerable support.
, distinguished as a soldier, and like Clay
inclined to a moderate course on the slavery question, was thought by a respectable body of delegates to be both a worthy and an available candidate.
A small number of delegates from New England
stood faithfully by Webster
The convention put forth no platform of principles and measures, and rejected resolutions which approved legislation by Congress for prohibiting slavery in the territories.
Two delegates from Massachusetts
and Henry Wilson
—announced, amidst demonstrations of disfavor, their determination to oppose the candidate because he did not represent the party or the principles of liberty,—the former declaring that the Whig party was from that day dissolved, and the latter saying with emphasis that he would do all he could to defeat the candidate.
Their protests had an immediate effect on the vote for Vice-President
, which resulted in the defeat of Abbott Lawrence
, of Massachusetts
, and the success, by a small majority, of Millard Fillmore
, of New York.
's declarations before his adoption by the convention were so inconsistent with the position of a party leader, in which the nomination would necessarily place him, as to preclude his selection by a party which had any confidence in its hold on the people.
He had, indeed, no political record,—had not so much as exercised the right to vote, the primary right of the citizen; had confessed that he had no opinions on political questions, and said that he would not be the candidate of any party, or the exponent of the principles of any party.