/hwig, wig/, n.1. Amer. Hist.a. a member of the patriotic party during the Revolutionary period; supporter of the Revolution.b. a member of a political party (c1834-1855) that was formed in opposition to the Democratic party, and favored economic expansion and a high protective tariff, while opposing the strength of the presidency in relation to the legislature.2. Brit. Politics.a. a member of a major political party (1679-1832) in Great Britain that held liberal principles and favored reforms: later called the Liberal party.b. (in later use) one of the more conservative members of the Liberal party.adj.3. being a Whig.4. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the Whigs.[1635-45; earlier, a Covenanter, hence an opponent of the accession of James II; of uncert. orig., though prob. in part a shortening of whiggamaire (later whiggamore), a participant in the Whiggamore Raid a march against the royalists in Edinburgh launched by Covenanters in 1648 (said to represent whig to spur on (cf. WHIG) + maire MARE1)]
* * *Member of a political faction in England, particularly in the 18th century.Originally a term for Scottish Presbyterians, the name came to imply nonconformity and rebellion and was applied in 1679 to those who wanted to exclude James, the Catholic duke of York (later James II), from succession to the throne of England. The Whigs were opposed by the Tory faction in that struggle but later represented the aristocratic, landowning families and financial interests of the wealthy middle classes. They maintained power through patronage and connections in Parliament, but there was no distinct party until 1784, when Charles James Fox represented the interests of religious dissenters, industrialists, and others who sought parliamentary reform. After 1815 and following various party realignments, the political group became the Liberal Party.
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