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Favorable or Unfavorable #46: John M. Berrien


Favorable or Unfavorable #46: John M. Berrien  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #46: John M. Berrien

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John M. Berrien of GA is a good example of a Southern Whig. Many Southern Whigs were originally Jacksonian but broke with Jackson on veto power and the nullification crisis. Along with Berrien, you have John Tyler and Hugh L White as other notable examples of this.

A lot of 21st century who are supportive of Civil Rights tend to favor the Whigs over the pre-Civil War Democrats over slavery, but it's really a sectional thing and not a party thing. It's because we're looking at it with a 21st century mindset. In some ways Southern Whigs were worse than Southern Democrats because, not only were they pro-slavery and pro-states rights, but they were often more elitist, less interested in upward mobility of the common white male. South Carolina Democrats are probably the exception. They're practically Southern Whigs who were Democrats only because more Northerners were Whigs. South Carolina is the least egalitarian state in US History. No popular vote until Reconstruction.

If one were to rank the parties in 1850 on egalitarianism (civil rights + upward mobility for all), you'd have to do something like this (best to worst): Free Soil Democrats, Free Soil/Conscience Whigs, Mainline Whigs, Mainline Democrats, Dough-Face Democrats, Border Whigs, Southern Democrats, Southern Whigs. The bulk of the anti-slavery would be Whigs in the North, which is why that's the preferred party of social liberals today, but the best combination of abolitionism and upward mobility are going to be found in Free Soil Democrats, but that's a small faction. Free Soil/Conscience Whigs, while #2 on this list are much, much numerous. Southern Whigs are less numerous than Southern Democrats. Overall, more anti-slavery people were Whigs than Democrats, at least among the politicians. I don't have the figures for actual voters, since they didn't have issue polling back then.

Sorry for the rambling. 

His actions:

Berrien, John M. 1824 Gains attention arguing against slaves captured at sea during Antelope Case
Berrien, John M. 1829 appointed Attorney General for Jackson
Berrien, John M. 1832 Breaks w/ Jackson on the Nullification Crisis (resigned as Att Gen the prior year)
Berrien, John M. 1850 Plays big role in Compr 1850 debates
Berrien, John M. 1850 Strong opponent of Compr 1850 and joins short-lived Southern Rights Party
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