Daniel Webster Quotes
Daniel Webster, served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. He and James G. Blaine were the only two people to serve as Secretary of State under three presidents. Webster also sought the Whig Party nomination for President three times: in 1836, 1840 and 1852.
Born in Salisbury, New Hampshire, Webster was one of the most highly regarded courtroom lawyers of the era and shaped several key U.S. Supreme Court cases that established important constitutional precedents that bolstered the authority of the federal government. Webster entered politics during the era of the Second Party System, which was the political system in the United States from about 1828 to 1854, characterized by rapidly increasing voter interest and personal loyalty to parties. Webster served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He was identified with the National Republican Party and supported John Quincy Adams. He took his seat in the Senate in 1827. As a senator, Webster was an outstanding spokesman for American nationalism with powerful oratory that made him a key Whig leader. His explication of the United States as not a creation of individual states but a cohesive whole in itself strengthened the power and integrity of the Union during the Nullification Crisis. He spoke for conservatives and led the opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party, firmly challenging Jackson's policies in the Bank War. Webster was a spokesman for modernization, banking, and industry, but not for the common people who composed the base of his opponents in Jacksonian democracy. "He was a thoroughgoing elitist, and he reveled in it," says biographer Robert Remini.
Webster sought the presidency in the 1836 election, winning only Massachusetts. He was appointed Secretary of State in 1841 under William Henry Harrison, who soon died and was replaced by John Tyler. Webster was the only member of Tyler's cabinet not to resign following the President's actions in opposing the Whig agenda. As a diplomat he is best known for negotiating the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842 with Great Britain, which established the border between the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. He eventually resigned in 1843, and returned to the Senate two years later.
Chiefly recognized for his Senate tenure, Webster was a key figure in the institution's "Golden days". Webster was the Northern member of the "Great Triumvirate", with his colleagues Henry Clay from the West and John C. Calhoun from the South. His "Reply to Hayne" in 1830 has been regarded as one of the greatest speeches in the Senate's history. As with Clay, his fellow Whig, Webster wanted to see the Union preserved and civil war averted. They both worked for compromises to stave off the sectionalism that threatened war between the North and the South. Webster's support for the Compromise of 1850, devised in part by Clay, proved crucial to its passage. The decision was, however, widely unpopular in Massachusetts. As a result, Webster resigned, but he soon after was appointed to serve another term as Secretary of State, this time under Millard Fillmore. In 1957, a Senate committee selected Webster as one of the five greatest U.S. Senators with Clay, Calhoun, Robert La Follette, and Robert A. Taft.