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Daniel Webster: A Featured Biography


Daniel Webster by Adrian S. Lamb

One of the nation's greatest orators, Daniel Webster (1782–1852) lent his eloquence to the cause of national unity during the tumultuous years leading to the Civil War. Webster was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire, and gained national prominence as an attorney while serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. After moving to Boston in 1816, he successfully argued several notable cases before the Supreme Court of the United States that helped define the constitutional power of the federal government. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1827, Webster established his oratorical reputation in the famous 1830 debate with South Carolina senator Robert Hayne over the issue of states' rights and nullification, declaring, "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!" From 1841 to 1843, Webster served a distinguished term as secretary of state before returning to the Senate in 1845. Five years later he endorsed the controversial legislative Compromise of 1850, elements of which his constituents strongly opposed. On July 22, 1850, Webster resigned his Senate seat and accepted appointment as secretary of state. He died two years later at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts.