The Whig Party was started in 1846 and was comprised of people who were reacting against the policies of President Andrew Jackson, who tried to use his power to make the presidency more authoritarian. Several issues during Jackson's time upset the whigs, for example, native Americans and how they were treated esp/ their land; the supreme court and the use of the presidential veto during war. In addition the est. of the Bank of the U.S.
The Whigs in the U.S. were mostly effective on a local level, in getting roads built and canals repaired. They were not effective on the federal level because of their beliefs that power should be disemminated. They got their name from the British opposition group of the same name who went against the king of England, opposing tyranny.
The downfall of the Whigs were because they couldn't seem to come together on issues. The real deal breaker was slavery. The issue of slavery was accepted by half of the Whigs--the ones in the north, who wanted it abolished while the southern Whigs with cotton plantations were for keeping it(slavery) in place. In 1852, when the Whig presidential runner, Winfield Scott, failed on gaining support, many southerner voters changed to the Democratic Party while the northern whigs started the Republican party.