Nomination BackgroundEditAfter four short years, the Whig's prospects had grown spectacularly. By law, Prime Minister William Henry Harrison was stepping down. On top of this, popular Second Seven Years War General and current Governor of Pennsylvania Hunter DeRensis, the Duke of Winterfell, had joined the Whig cause, leading to a huge boom in their popularity. The party's 1812 nominee and key leader Elbridge Gerry had died suddenly in 1814, leaving a whole in the party's structure. Many thought that if the Duke were nominated, they stood a good chance at defeating the Crown's new nominee, Viceroy Henry Clay of Virginia. But despite this popularity, the Duke did face stiff competition for the nominaiton that was becoming more and more sought after by up and coming politicians.
Compared to 1812, the 1816 nomination was a much smaller affair when it came to candidates, and to most observers thought it was a much easier choice as well. Acknowledged nominees included:
- Governor Hunter DeRensis (37) of Pennsylvania
- Governor Dewitt Clinton (46) of New York
- Congressman Rufus King (60) of New York
Hunter DeRensis, the Duke of Winterfell, was by far the most popular choice. Raised in the wilds of what was then western Pennsylvania, the Duke had entered the military after a short stay at the Philadelphia Military Academy. Rising up through the ranks, he led URAS forces in the Barbary Subjugation, and continued to serve in the Second Seven Years' War. By the end he had become a General, and he resigned from the military in 1809 at the age of 31. In private life he took up politics, and in 1811 he declared himself a Whig. There were whispers that he would try for the nomination in 1812, but he put to rest those rumors when he wrote to the King requesting a government position. He was made Governor of Pennsylvania, where he served for the next four years. In that time, he had become a very prevailing governor, instituting as much of the Whig platform as possible, somewhat based on Dewitt Clinton's exploits. He had become good friends with Rufus King and Elbridge Gerry (before his unfortunate death in 1814), and was well liked by the Whigs. He had an extremely successful and popular military career to please the public, but the political experience to please the Whig leadership; a perfect package.
But despite this seemingly obvious choice, the Duke was opposed by Dewitt Clinton. Following Clinton's 1812 break from the Whigs in vengeance for not being nominated, he had quickly returned. But this "treachery" lost him any allies he had; all that was left was his New York base, which while strong, was alone. While still the popular Governor of New York, Clinton was no longer the young (DeRensis' youth surpassed Clinton's by nine years) and up and coming Whig leader; he was now the politically friendless Whig traitor.Rufus King remained in largely the same position he was in the last nomination; a friendly and well respected congressman that could be nominated if others couldn't be. While popular overall, he had few dedicated supporters.
Nominating Convention Edit
Once the convention convened in Boston, speeches followed speeches calling for the nomination of the Duke. Despite the refusal of New York to back down their support for Clinton, the Duke was easily nominated by a two-thirds majority of the delegates almost immediately. The Duke asked Rufus King, still his personal friend, to accept the nomination of Viceroy, and many Whigs thought that the DeRensis-King ticket could lead them to a real victory.
Many thought Clinton would bolt the party again; but Clinton new better, seeing the past results. While remaining a Whig, he refused to lend support to the DeRensis-King ticket. Meanwhile, the Duke did a national tour, speaking to huge crowds, praising the Whig platform and making political promises to as many different groups as possible. Meanwhile, Crown nominee Henry Clay remained at home, relying on the popularity of the Crowns and the party structure to lead him to victory. While Clay had more support, most observers realized that the one party state that had existed in the last decade was over for good. While there was no official polling at the time, most historians agree the numbers were roughly 36% for DeRensis with 56% for Clay (although some contend it was much closer, with 47% for DeRensis and 49% for Clay). Despite this defeat, the Duke was able to swing more supporters than any other Whig, and he quickly made himself known as a force to be reckoned with. Due to these abnomal results (and because of the Duke's personal friendship with the King), Andrew made the unlikely choice of choosing Henry Clay for Prime Minister, and asking the Duke to become the new Viceroy in a Crown Administration. The the surpise of all and the shock of none, the Duke gratefully accepted the position.