In this study of political party development in North Carolina during the antebellum period, Thomas E. Jeffrey accounts for the persistence of the second-party system in that state, emphasizing the sectional conflict that divided eastern plantation and western small farming counties. Although members of the Whig and Democratic parties disagreed strongly over national issues, the state issues—public school funding, internal improvements, the creation of new counties—divided citizens along sectional rather than party lines. Party leaders attempted to reconcile progressive western interests and conservative eastern interests by accentuating cohesive national issues. Jeffrey reveals factors that preserved the vitality of the second-party system in North Carolina even as other states became politically stagnant. This vitality would shape politics of the Old North State during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and beyond. The upheaval of the Civil War vindicated the policies of the Whigs, and although extinct outside of the state, this party would lead North Carolina into the age of the New South.
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