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Who were the Whigs?

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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

http://www.answers.com/topic/covenanters-1 had been derogatorily

known, was first used by the Tories during the

http://www.answers.com/topic/exclusion-crisis 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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