One of the nineteenth century’s greatest statesmen and orators, Daniel Webster (1782–1852) was a looming figure in nineteenth-century politics, long representing Massachusetts in both houses of Congress, and also serving as Secretary of State under three presidents. Born in New Hampshire at the close of the American Revolution, Webster was a member of the first generation of Americans who had not been colonists, and he remained fiercely nationalistic in his political views throughout his career. Despite his abolitionist sympathies, he supported the Compromise of 1850, allowing states to vote on whether or not to allow slavery and requiring the federal government to enforce the fugitive slave law. His support of the Compromise outraged his constituents, and Webster resigned in 1851, dying a year later.
Author: Daniel Webster
July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, saw the deaths of both Thomas Jefferson—the Declaration’s chief author—and John Adams—its most effective advocate in the Continental Congress. On August 2 that year, Daniel Webster (1782–1852), the great orator, statesman, and senator from Massachusetts delivered this moving eulogy (greatly excerpted) at Faneuil Hall in Boston, a famous meeting house where Samuel Adams and others had once given speeches in favor of American independence.
In 1820, the bicentennial of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock—well before Thanksgiving became a national holiday—the great statesman, orator, and United States Senator Daniel Webster (1782–1852) delivered this oration (excerpted) at the landing site. In this speech, he performs his duty to “our ancestors and our posterity” and to “this memorable spot” by paying homage to our Pilgrim fathers and to the blessings of liberty and equality that Americans enjoy thanks to their legacy.
On February 22, 1832, the centennial birthday of George Washington, a number of gentlemen, members of Congress and others, from different parts of the Union, celebrated the occasion by a public dinner in the city of Washington. After dinner, Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts (1782–1852) gave this (excerpted) address, which remains one of the greatest speeches commemorating our founding president.