Daniel Webster

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Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 24, 1852) was a leading American statesman during the nation's Antebellum Period. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests. His increasingly nationalistic views and the effectiveness with which he articulated them led Webster to become one of the most famous orators and influential Whig leaders of the Second Party System. As a leader of the Whig Party, he was one of the nation's most prominent conservatives, leading opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and the Democratic party. He was a spokesman for modernization, banking and industry. He was an acknowledged elitist. [2] During his forty years in national politics Webster served in the House of Representatives for ten years (representing New Hampshire), the Senate for nineteen years (representing Massachusetts), and served as Secretary of State for three presidents.

Daniel Webster was one of the most successful lawyers of the era, appearing in several key Supreme Court cases that established important constitutional precedents that bolstered the authority of the federal government. As Secretary of State, he negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty that established the definitive eastern border between the United States and Canada. Primarily recognized for his Senate tenure, Webster was a key figure in the institution's "Golden days". So well-known was his skill as a Senator throughout this period that Webster became the northern member of a trio known as the "Great Triumvirate", with his colleagues Henry Clay from the west and John C. Calhoun from the south. His "Reply to Hayne" in 1830 was generally regarded as "the most eloquent speech ever delivered in Congress." [3]

As with his fellow Whig Henry Clay, Webster's desire to see the Union preserved and civil war averted led him to search out compromises designed to stave off the sectionalism that threatened war between the Northern States and those of the South. Webster tried and failed three times for the White House. Webster was widely esteemed and was officially named by the U.S. Senate in 1957 as one of its five most outstanding members. [4]


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