Historical Marker #1329 in Union County identifies the location of Abraham Lincoln's 1840 speech on behalf of Whig presidential candidate William Henry Harrison. It is the only known speech that Lincoln gave in Kentucky.
Although the Whig Party was in the minority in Illinios, Lincoln agreed with its policies and supported the party's leader, Henry Clay. Clay's "American System" advocated for internal improvements and protective tariffs to encourage and protect manufacturing in the United States. Lincoln supported Clay in two of his three runs for president, calling him his "beau ideal of a statesman."
The Whig Party was prominent in America from the early 1830's to the 1850's. Founded in opposition to Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party, Whigs sought to check the power of Jackson's presidency, which they viewed as backward and dangerous. Disagreement over slavery doomed the Whig Party in the 1850's, and the Republican Party was formed on the policy of limiting the expansion of slavery into the Western territories.
Lincoln became an important Republican leader in the 1850's, strengthening the party's ideology and organization. In 1860, Lincoln won the Republican nomination for president and then defeated a fractured Democratic party, which splintered on the contentious issue of slavery.