Summary of Daniel Webster (Chapter III) from Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
Daniel Webster was a Massachusetts Senator (Whig) and one of the most distinguished members in Senate history. His trial by fire began in 1850 when he agreed to help Henry Clay of Kentucky push through a compromise bill that would keep the Union together. Webster’s famous “Seventh of March” speech in favor of Clay’s compromise bill asserted that slaveholders were entitled to property rights, that fugitive slave laws should be strengthened, and that the issue of slavery should be put aside in order to keep the Union together at all costs. The speech enraged his constituents and ended his career as a Senator, since Webster knew that his speech would make him unelectable in Massachusetts thereafter. On July 22, 1850, Webster resigned from the Senate to become secretary of state.