Map of the states and territories of the United States as it was from 1850 to March 1853
The Whig vision of the American polity included a high tariff to bolster the central government coffers, so they could finance “infrastructure,” (railroads, canals, bridges, roads etc.), protect the industries of New England, and maintain a strong central banking system. Although unstated publicly, the Whigs hoped to continue the rising political dominance of the Northeast and Midwestern states, downgrading the influence of the Southern states in the national government. Even Southern Whigs would be marginalized if no slave-holding states were created from the territories acquired from Mexico in the War just concluded in 1848. Having failed to prevent Texas statehood, the Whigs were determined to save the newly acquired lands, for white people only.
The United States Senate, A.D. 1850: Henry Clay takes the floor of the Old Senate Chamber; Vice President Millard Fillmore presides as John C. Calhoun (to the right of Fillmore’s chair) and Daniel Webster (seated to the left of Clay) look on
The basic core of the Whig (soon to be Republican) Party tended to include professionals, Southern plantation owners, social reformers, middle class entrepreneurs and merchants, and Northern evangelicals. They strongly opposed what they considered executive power overreach, although that issue would be set aside for four years after the first Republican electoral success. They did not take a strong stand on the slavery issue, though they would shortly be conjoined with single-issue political parties and people whose purpose for existence belied the Whig attempt to marginalize the slave issues—the abolitionists and the Free Soil Party, and the anti-immigrationists and the American Party (“Know-nothings”).