Webster Reprimands Bassett

"Daniel Webster."
Unidentified Artist, after John W. Alexander
Harper's Weekly
January 21, 1882


When Mr. Webster wanted anything he would call me. He became very much attached to me. On one occasion during a long session he called me to go and get him a hack. It had been raining—I came back to him in my usual way, came up to him and told him that I could not find a hack. He put both hands on my shoulders, and gave me a push from him—with one of his blackest looks that I ever saw. I thought that I would sink through the floor. He told me to go and get him a carriage and not come back until I got him one. I went out, but he never saw me any more that day. I believe that it turned my hair gray (from that day gray hair was on my head). [1A7-1A8]

Editor's Note:

Daniel Webster was both a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. representative from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After his election to the U.S. Senate in 1827, Webster established his oratorical reputation in the famous 1830 debate with Senator Robert Young Hayne of South Carolina over the issue of states’ rights and nullification. Defending the concept of a strong national government, he became a national hero and his Senate oration was in greater demand than any other member of his time. Webster was reported to have an unforgettable physical presence, with a dark complexion and penetrating eyes. Bassett first became familiar with Webster when he accompanied his father, a messenger for the Senate, to work. Webster arranged for Bassett to become a page for the Senate, and over the years he became a great family friend.

People, Places, & Things:

  • Hack - A carriage for hire, precursor to the modern taxicab.