Whigs And Tories

What is the difference between Whigs and Tories?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Whigs and the Tories were two British political parties formed in the late seventeenth century and subsequently exported to the colonies. The parties still persist in Britain and Canada, where the Tories have evolved into the Conservatives (although they are often still referred to as Tories) and the Whigs have evolved into the Labour Party (Britain) and the Liberal Party (Canada). The American Republicans are the historic descendants of the Whigs and the Democrats of the Tories, although in most of the Anglophone world, the political ideologies and demarcations shifted radically in the nineteenth century, causing major discontinuities in their positions.

The Tories were generally the party of the nobility. They were supporters of the monarchy, and tended to be wealthy rural landowners. They were staunch supporters of the Church of England and formed a High Church party within it, advocating traditional liturgy and fairly strict and narrow theological positions. They advocated close ties between church and state. They also tended to have a sense of noblesse oblige, and at times supported charity for the poor. It was this charitable Christian impulse that led the party to later transform into one that supported a strong welfare state, combining its traditional statism with a form of Christian paternalism.

The Whigs tended to be religiously latitudinarian or Broad Church, supporting religious freedom; many dissenters and evangelicals gravitated to the Whigs and they were strongly anti-slavery. They were the party of the urban bourgeois, strongly Parliamentarian, and the party of the new manufacturing towns. Because they were on the side of a raw and dynamic capitalism, they were often opposed to the rights of workers, and so at times the Tory aristocrats and the working classes allied together to oppose the Whigs.

In the United States, the southern states tended to be Tory strongholds, with the plantation aristocracy reproducing the traditional landholding Church of England country aristocracy and the manufacturing North tending to be Whig, often consisting of Protestants dissenting from the Church of England. During the American Revolution, Tories tended to be Loyalists (and many left for Canada when the Colonies separated from England) and the Whigs supported the revolutionaries.

jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Whigs and Tories were British Political parties that developed in the latter part of the 17th century.  The Whigs generally supported constitutional monarchy and the role of the aristocracy, while the Tories supported a stronger monarchy.  In the world of colonial and revolutionary America, the Whigs generally supported the patriots and the need for the recognition of self government for the aristocratic families of the colonies.  The Whig position was that Englishmen in the colonies should have the same rights as Englishmen at home and thus took offence at the taxes and other abuses of these rights for the colonists.  The Tories on the other hand supported a stronger monarchy and believed that the King and Parlaiment had the right to treat the colonies as they chose.  They did not believe that the colonists should have the same rights as English citizens did in England.  Thus the Tories were generally loyal to the English throne and against the War for Independence.


knobles78 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Whigs and Tories are referred to as the first political parties, forming after Charles II dissolved the Cavalier court. Separation of powers between the sovereign monarchy and political Parliament lay the foundation for their differences.   The Whigs , named after the Scottish Presbyterian Whigamors, were the more liberal of the two parties.  In 1679 England, the Whigs opposed corruption that was occurring within the monarchy. They believed in limiting the powers of the king. They also spoke against the protestant persecution and the possible succession of the Catholic Duke of York to the throne. The Tories, named for Irish Catholics who became outlaws during the Religious Reformation, were the more conservative party of the time.  They remained loyal to both the monarchy and the church, supporting the traditions and privileges of the throne.

In the American colonies, Whigs supported American independence, while the Tories maintained their loyalty to the throne.

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