The Whig Party of Texas in the Elections
of 1848 and 1852
D URING THE CAMPAIGN OF 1848, SENATOR SAM HOUSTON WAS RE-
ported to have informed a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, audience
There are but six men belonging to the Whig Party in Texas, one of
whom was a horsethief-another a black-leg-a third a land grabber, and
the other three were the mere tools and understrappers of the first three
named, ready to do their bidding at all times for a glass of grog or an
occasional suit of old clothes.
Considering the Whig party's failure to champion Texas annexation
in 1844-1845 and its noticeable lack of enthusiasm for the Mexican
War, one might easily conclude that Houston was guilty of only a
slightly partisan exaggeration of Whig weakness in his state. Men of
the Whig persuasion in Texas, recognizing their unpromising situation
after annexation, were understandably reluctant to bring party labels
into state politics and never fully organized at that level." Arthur
C. Cole's detailed study, The Whig Party in the South, does not men-
tion a Whig party in Texas.
Undoubtedly, then, the Whigs never posed a serious threat to
Democratic control of Texas. There was, however, an organized
Whig party in the state for the national elections of 1848 and 1852,
which gained a significant minority of the vote although burdened
with candidates who were unpopular with large numbers of Texans.
One purpose of this article is to piece together from the fragmentary
material available, primarily from newspapers of the period, the story
of Whig efforts in Texas in these two national elections."
*Randolph Campbell is assistant professor of history at North Texas State University.
"Galveston Civilian and Galveston Gazette, August 17, 1848.
'For explanations of political organization after annexation see Houston Telegraph
and Texas Register, October 22, 1845, and Austin Texas Democrat, April 15, 1846, quoted
in Ernest W. Winkler (ed.), Platforms of Political Parties in Texas (Austin, 1916),
16-18. See also Dudley G. Wooten (ed.), A Comprehensive History of Texas, x685 to 1897
(2 vols.; Dallas, 1898), II, 27.
'Unfortunately, few copies of the Texas Whig newspapers have been preserved. The
story of the Whigs must come largely from the material Democratic papers saw fit to
print concerning their opposition.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed October 23, 2014.