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Who were the Whigs?

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Answered 2009-02-26 22:45:54

The Whigs were one of the two main political parties in Britain between the later 17th and mid-19th cents. The term, which derived from 'whiggamore', the name by which the Scots had been derogatorily known, was first used by the Tories during the to brand the opponents of James, duke of York. Whiggery thus began as a distinctly oppositional and populist ideology, which saw political authority stemming from the people, a 'contract' existing between them and their king, whom they might resist if he overrode their interests. Early Whig principles played a key part in shaping the 1689 revolution settlement. As firm supporters of the Hanoverian succession the Whigs presided over George I's accession in 1714 and afterwards engineered the long-term proscription of their Tory rivals. The resulting 'Whig oligarchy' achieved a hitherto unseen stability in political life over the next few decades, with power concentrated in the hands of the great Whig families.

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