In the years preceding the Civil War, The American Whig Party was involved at every level of American politics and controlled the White House for twelve of the twenty-two years it existed. Its members included Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Horace Greeley, and the young Abraham Lincoln. Now, Michael F. Holt gives us the only comprehensive history of the Whigs ever written. He offers a panoramic account of the tumultuous Antebellum period, a time when a flurry of parties (Democratic, Anti-Mason, Know Nothing, Free Soil, Republican) and larger than life politicians--Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren, and Henry Clay--struggled to control the national agenda as the U.S. inched towards secession. It was an era when Americans were passionately involved in politics, when local concerns drove national policy, and when momentous political events--like the Nullification Controversy, the Annexation of Texas, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act--rocked the country. Holt captures all of this as he shows that, amid this contentious political activity, the Whig Party continuously strove to unite North and South and emerged as the nation's last great hope to prevent secession.