Note by Gem - Daniel Webster
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Daniel Webster was widely considered America's foremost statesman. But the Compromise of 1850 was to be the last act of his political career. Webster argued passionately in the Senate for the preservation of the Union, asking both northerners and southerners to make compromises toward that great end. But his support of the Compromise included a strong endorsement of the Fugitive Slave Act widely hated in the North and his soon brought on a flood of criticisms.

 

Daniel Webster knew how to move people with the power of the spoken word. He was a famous orator. In the hot-tempered times before the Civil War, he wanted to preserve the Union—even if that meant compromise. He thundered, "Slavery is wrong!" but to keep the southern states from seceding, he supported the Compromise of 1850 allowing slavery in new territories.

 

He did not believe the South had the right to choose which federal laws to obey or to leave the Union. In his last speech before the Senate in 1850, he said, "I wish to speak today, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as an Northern man, but as an American ... I speak today for the preservation of the Union." He also said, "Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility!" His prediction was correct.

 

Daniel Webster was born in 1782 in New Hampshire to poor but devoted parents. They enrolled him with private tutors and later saw him graduate from Dartmouth College as a lawyer. He served as secretary of state under three presidents—William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. Known as the "Defender of the Constitution," Webster believed in a strong central government.

 

Just two years after his famous last Senate speech, Webster fell from his horse at his Massachusetts home and died of a brain injury. He did not live to see the South secede, or the bloody war that followed.It , "It was he who proclaimed the famous words I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American."

 

It is not too much to say that the conviction of the justice of their cause that carried the northern states successfully through the Civil War was largely due to the arguments of Webster. He had convinced the majority of the people that the government created by the Constitution was not a league or confederacy, but a Union, and had all the powers necessary to its maintenance and preservation. He had convinced the Supreme Court, and established the principle in American jurisprudence, that whenever a power is granted by a Constitution, everything that is fairly and reasonably involved in the exercise of that power is granted also. He established the freedom of the instrumentalities of the national government from adverse legislation by the states; freedom of commerce between the different states; the right of Congress to regulate the entire passenger traffic through and from the United States, and the sacredness of public franchises from legislative assault. The establishment of these principles was essential to the integrity and permanence of the American Union.

 

The 1880 $10 legal tender notes are nicknamed the 'jackas.s' note as the eagle in the lower center

of the note looks like head of a donkey when viewed upside down.

 

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Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

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Edited by GEM
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