About this Famous Person
American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War
Source : Tim DOWLING
Daniel Webster was born to Ebenezer and Abigail Webster (née Eastman) in West Salisbury, New Hampshire, the present-day city of Franklin. He and his nine siblings grew up on their parents' farm, a small parcel of land granted to his father. His ancestors were among the early settlers of Salisbury.
Webster attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a preparatory school in Exeter, New Hampshire, before attending Dartmouth College. After he graduated from Dartmouth (Phi Beta Kappa), Webster was apprenticed to the lawyer Thomas W. Thompson in Salisbury. When his older brother Ezekiel's studies required Webster's support, the young man resigned from the law office and worked as a schoolteacher — as young men often did then, when public education consisted largely of subsidies to local schoolmasters. In 1802 Webster began as the headmaster of the Fryeburg Academy, Maine, where he served for one year. When Ezekiel's education could no longer be sustained, Webster returned to his apprenticeship.
In 1804 he left New Hampshire and got a position in Boston under the prominent attorney Christopher Gore. Clerking for Gore — who was involved in international, national, and state politics — Webster learned about many legal and political subjects and met numerous New England politicians. In 1805 Webster was accepted into the bar.
He returned to New Hampshire to set up a practice in Boscawen, in part to be near his ailing father. Webster became increasingly interested in politics; raised by an ardently Federalist father and taught by a predominantly Federalist-leaning faculty at Dartmouth, Webster, like many New Englanders, supported Federalism. He began to speak locally in support of Federalist causes and candidates. After his father's death in 1806, Webster handed over his practice to his older brother Ezekiel, who had by this time been admitted to the bar.
Webster moved to the larger town of Portsmouth in 1807, and opened a practice. During this time the Napoleonic Wars began to affect Americans, as Britain began to impress American sailors into their Navy. President Thomas Jefferson retaliated with the Embargo Act of 1807, stopping all trade to both Britain and France. As New England relied on commerce with the two nations, the region strongly opposed Jefferson's attempt at "peaceable coercion." Webster wrote an anonymous pamphlet attacking it.
Eventually the trouble with England escalated into the War of 1812. That same year, Daniel Webster gave an address to the Washington Benevolent Society, a speech that proved critical to his career. The speech condemned the war and the violation of New England's shipping rights that preceded it, but it also strongly denounced the extremism of those more radical among the unhappy New Englanders who were beginning to call for the region's secession from the Union.
The Washington speech was widely circulated and read throughout New Hampshire, and it led to Webster's 1812 selection to the Rockingham Convention, an assembly that sought to declare formally the state's grievances with President James Madison and the federal government. He was a member of the drafting committee and was chosen to compose the Rockingham Memorial to be sent to Madison. The report included much of the same tone and opinions held in the Washington Society address, except that, uncharacteristically for its chief architect, it alluded to the threat of secession saying, "If a separation of the states shall ever take place, it will be, on some occasion, when one portion of the country undertakes to control, to regulate, and to sacrifice the interest of another."
Webster's efforts for New England Federalism, shipping interests, and war opposition resulted in his election to the House of Representatives in 1812, where he served two terms ending March 1817. He was an outspoken critic of the Madison administration and its wartime policies, denouncing its efforts at financing the war through paper money and (in "one of [his] most eloquent efforts") opposing Secretary of War James Monroe's conscription proposal. Notable in his second term was his support of the reestablishment of a stable specie-based national bank; but he opposed the tariff of 1816 (which sought to protect the nation's manufacturing interests) and House Speaker Henry Clay's American System.
This opposition was in accordance with his professed beliefs and those of most of his constituents, including free trade, that the tariff's "great object was to raise revenue, not to foster manufacture," and that it was against "the true spirit of the Constitution" to give "excessive bounties or encouragements to one [industry] over another."
After his second term, Webster did not seek a third, choosing his law practice instead. In an attempt to secure greater financial success for himself and his family (he had married Grace Fletcher in 1808, with whom he had four children), he moved his practice from Portsmouth to Boston.
Source : http://www.wikipedia.org/
- Category American politician