Whig And Tory, designations of political parties in English, and more lately in American history, originally applied as terms of reproach. The word "whig11 is a contraction of "whiggamore," which in the southwestern counties of Scotland denotes a drover. In 1648 a party of Covenanters from this region attacked Edinburgh. " This,11 says Burnet, " was called the whiggamores' inroad; and ever after all that opposed the court came in contempt to be called whiggs; and from Scotland the word was brought into England." The term came into general use in 1679, during the struggle between the court and country parties on the bill for the exclusion of the duke of York from the line of succession. The opponents of the bill were called in contempt tories, and the friends of the duke retorted by calling their adversaries whigs. The word "tory" is derived from an Irish term applied, says Roger North, to " the most despicable savages among the wild Irish;" and the name was given to the followers of the duke because he favored Irishmen. But according to other authorities, the tories were originally merely the successors of the cavaliers of the civil wars, who believed that the maintenance of a royal line was the end or the necessary means of a lawful government, who vindicated the divine right of kings, and held high notions of prerogative.
The tories subsequently took broader ground, and their leading principle became the maintenance of things as they have been, or at least as they are; whence Johnson gives the following definition: "One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state and the apostolical hierarchy of the church of England." The word is now applied rather to certain traditional maxims of public policy, the political successors of the tories being called conservatives. The whig party has generally adhered to progressive principles since it first received its distinctive name, though time and circumstances have effected important modifications in its professions and modes of action. The whigs came into power in England with the accession of William III., and were in general the dominant party until the middle of the next century; after which the tories predominated for upward of 80 years. The agitation of the reform bill and of Catholic emancipation again brought the whigs into power, but since 1830 the settlement of old disputed issues has made the term practically obsolete; and the whig party now call themselves liberals, and a more advanced wing of the party are known as radicals. - In the United States the term whig was applied during the revolution to the patriotic party, the adherents to the crown being called tories.
Both words subsequently disappeared from the political vocabulary of the country until the presidential election of 1832, when the anti-Jackson party took the name of whig. The party broke up in 1854-5.