Daniel Webster


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The Senator

There are few roles in government he did not play, few defining issues of the mid-nineteenth century of which he did not find himself at the center. This powerful resource will be indispensable to students and scholars of the nineteenth century, politics, and legal history. University of Virginia Press P. Skip to main content.

Daniel Webster - New World Encyclopedia

The Papers of Daniel Webster. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Daniel Webster , a notable public speaker and leading constitutional lawyer, was a major congressional spokesman for the Northern Whigs during his twenty years in the U.

His parents were Ebenezer, who worked as a tavern owner and a farmer and was also involved in politics, and his second wife, Abigail. While a child, Daniel earned the nickname "Black Dan" for his dark skin and black hair and eyes. The second youngest of ten children, Daniel developed a passion for reading and learning at a young age. His formal education began in when he started at Phillips Academy in Exeter.

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Then when he was fifteen, Daniel went on to Dartmouth College. After graduating from Dartmouth, Daniel studied law and was admitted to the bar an organization for lawyers in He opened a law office in Portsmouth, New Hampshire , in , where his success was immediate. He became a noted spokesman for the Federalists a leading political party that believed in a strong federal government through his addresses on patriotic occasions.

House of Representatives in , Webster reenergized the Federalist minority with his attacks on the war policy of the Republicans , the opposing political party. Under his leadership the Federalists often successfully obstructed war measures. After the War of , when American and British forces clashed over shipping rites, he called for the restructuring of the Bank of the United States , but he voted against the final bill, which he considered defective. As the representative of a region where shipping was basic to the economy, he voted against the protective tariff tax.

Webster left politics for a while when he moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Supreme Court, Webster's fame as a lawyer grew, and soon his annual income rose to fifteen thousand dollars a year.


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On this occasion Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall drew from Webster's brief the belief that the power to tax is the power to destroy. House of Representatives in , his speeches began to attract national attention. From to Webster was one of the most faithful backers of President John Quincy Adams — , supporting federal internal improvements and supporting Adams in his conflict with Georgia over the removal of the Cherokee Indians.

When Webster was elected to the Senate in , he made the first about-face in his career when he became a champion of the protective tariff. In January Webster electrified the nation by his speeches in response to the elaborate explanations of the Southern states' rights doctrines teachings made by Senator Robert Y.

In memorable phrases Webster exposed the weaknesses in Hayne's views and argued that the Constitution the document that states the principles of the American government and the Union rested upon the people and not upon the states. These speeches, delivered before crowded Senate galleries, defined the constitutional issues which disturbed the nation for nearly thirty years.

Regarded by others as one of the greatest orators public speakers of the day, he delivered his speeches with tremendous dramatic impact. Yet in spite of his emotional style and the passionate character of his speeches, he rarely sacrificed logic for effect. His striking appearance contributed to the forcefulness of his delivery. Tall, rather thin, and always clad in black, Webster's face was dominated by deep, luminous black eyes under craggy brows and a shock of black hair combed straight back.

In private Webster was more approachable. He was fond of gatherings and was a lively talker, although at times given to silent moods. While his admirers worshiped the "Godlike Daniel," his critics thought his constant need for money deprived him of his independence. During the Panic of , a desperate financial crisis resulting from the expansion into western lands, he was in such desperate circumstances as a result of excessive investments in western lands that only loans from business friends saved him from ruin.

Again, in , when it seemed financial pressure might force him to leave the Senate, he permitted his friends to raise a fund to provide him with an income. Webster was one of the leaders of the anti- Andrew Jackson — forces that came together in the Whig party , a political party which opposed Jackson's Democrats. Regardless, Webster did endorse President Jackson's stand during the nullification crisis in , where several states threatened to leave the Union unless granted the right to "nullify," or make void, certain federal laws.

In recognition of his standing in the party and in gratitude for his support during the campaign, President William Henry Harrison — appointed him secretary of state in He continued in this post under John Tyler — , who succeeded to the presidency when Harrison died a month after he was sworn in as president. Among other accomplishments, Webster sent Caleb Cushing — to the Orient Far East to establish commercial relations with China , although he was no longer in office when Cushing concluded the agreement.

Late in Webster, feeling that he no longer enjoyed Tyler's confidence, gave in to Whig pressure and retired from office. Webster, in spite of his disappointment at not receiving the presidential nomination in , actively campaigned for Henry Clay — , his rival within the party. On his return to the Senate in , Webster opposed the annexation acception into the Union of Texas and as well as the expansionist policies that peaked in the war with Mexico — 48 , when American forces clashed with Mexico over western lands.

After the war he worked to remove slavery from the newly acquired territories which resulted in the Wilmot Proviso. Although Northern businessmen agreed, the average citizen was outraged over Webster's speech of March in defense of the new Fugitive Slave Law, a law that provided for the return of escaped slaves. In he lost his last hope for the presidency when the Whigs passed over him in favor of General Winfield Scott — , a former Democrat.

Daniel Webster

He died just before the election on October 24, Baxter, Maurice G. One and Inseparable: Daniel Webster and the Union. Lodge, Henry Cabot. Daniel Webster. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, Reprint, New York : Chelsea House, Peterson, Merrill D. New York : Oxford University Press, Daniel Webster was a nineteenth-century lawyer, representative, senator, secretary of state, and one of the great orators in U.


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A man of prodigious talent and great political ambition, Webster reversed himself on issues involving the economy and slavery in hopes of becoming president. As the greatest constitutional lawyer of his day, he helped shape the nationalist jurisprudence favored by Chief Justice john marshall. Webster was born on January 18, , in Salisbury, New Hampshire. He entered Dartmouth College when he was fifteen and graduated in He then studied law with an attorney in Boston before becoming a member of the New Hampshire bar in Webster moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in and quickly developed a legal association with the shipowners and merchants of the city.

Webster became the spokesperson for the Portsmouth business community, who opposed the Jefferson administration's trade restrictions with Great Britain and France. His vehement denunciations of the trade embargo and the war of against Great Britain led to his election to the U. House of Representatives in He aligned himself with the pro-British federalist party and endorsed a strong national government. Webster left Congress in and relocated to Boston where he emerged as an eminent attorney, specializing in constitutional law.

His reputation increased when he became involved in three landmark cases. In the first, trustees of dartmouth college v. The Court, with Chief Justice Marshall writing the opinion, ruled that a corporate charter was a contract that could not be impaired. In that same year, Webster argued for the validity of the bank of the united states and against the right of a state to tax a federal institution in mcculloch v.

Again, Chief Justice Marshall agreed with Webster's nationalist philosophy, finding that the necessary and proper clause provided the basis for Congress's creation of a national bank and that "the government of the Union, though limited in its power, is supreme within its sphere of action.

Five years later, in gibbons v. Chief Justice Marshall and the Court sided with Webster, holding that the Constitution's commerce clause empowered Congress to regulate interstate commerce, establishing a precedent that had far-reaching effects in the economic expansion of the nineteenth century. With these accomplishments to his credit, Webster returned to the U. House of Representatives in , where he represented Massachusetts for the next five years. In the House he chaired the Judiciary Committee and opposed the tariff, believing that it would injure the merchant class.

Following his election to the U. Senate in , however, Webster made one of his famous reversals and embraced the need for a tariff. He endorsed the tariff of Webster's skills as an orator were renowned. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court could last several days, requiring attorneys to have both mental and physical stamina. Webster excelled in oral argument but he was also famous for his public addresses.

Event Information

In he delivered addresses on the deaths of john adams and thomas jefferson. In he debated Senator Robert Y.

https://mufasnuilesbei.tk Hayne of South Carolina , who favored a coalition between Western and Southern states to benefit both areas in tariffs and land prices. Webster opposed this sectionalism and denounced the doctrine of nullification, which upheld the right of a state to declare a federal law invalid within its boundaries. Webster's phrase "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable! In Webster abandoned the Federalist Party and helped form the whig party, made up of groups opposed to President andrew jackson and the Democrats.

He was considered for the Whig presidential nomination in but was defeated. In President william henry harrison appointed Webster secretary of state. Harrison died shortly after taking office, President john tyler asked Webster to remain at his post.


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  6. The Tyler administration was a troubled one, largely because Tyler was a Democrat with a cabinet of Whigs. His decision to reject a Whig measure establishing a new national bank caused a revolt in his cabinet, with most members resigning in protest. Webster alone remained to aid Tyler, motivated by the possibility of becoming his vice-presidential running mate in However, Tyler was not renominated.

    As secretary of state, Webster did negotiate the Webster-Ashburton Treaty , which established the boundary line for Maine. Webster returned to the Senate in , with his salary supplemented by a fund raised by Boston and New York businessmen. Critics charged that he had surrendered his political independence to manufacturing interests.

    Citation Information

    In he married Grace Fletcher. Elected to the U. House of Representatives in , Webster reenergized the Federalist minority with his attacks on the war policy of the Republicans, the opposing political party. Under his leadership the Federalists often successfully obstructed war measures. After the War of , when American and British forces clashed over shipping rites, he called for the restructuring of the Bank of the United States, but he voted against the final bill, which he considered defective.

    As the representative of a region where shipping was basic to the economy, he voted against the protective tariff tax. Webster left politics for a while when he moved to Boston, Massachusetts. As a result of his success in pleading before the U. Supreme Court, Webster's fame as a lawyer grew, and soon his annual income rose to fifteen thousand dollars a year.

    On this occasion Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall drew from Webster's brief the belief that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

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