Daniel Webster, 1782 - 1852

portrait of Daniel Webster
Oil on canvas by Adrian S. Lamb (1955) based on original by George Healy
Daniel Webster signature
1382

Born: 18 January 1782, Salisbury, New Hampshire
Died: 24 October 1852, Marshfield, Massachusetts

Born the ninth of ten children to a politically-active tavern keeper and farmer, "little Black Dan" was frail and was excused from heavy farm chores. He became something of a pet to both his parents and older siblings and he was taught to read early. He entered Phillips Exeter Academy at fourteen, the next year he went to Dartmouth College. After graduation he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1805, he also became a noted speaker. He spent a great deal of time in Congress: He served two terms starting in 1813, another two terms starting in 1823, he spent fourteen years in the senate, leaving to become Secretary of State under William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, returned to the senate in 1845, again leaving before his term was up to become Secretary of State under Millard Fillmore. His speeches are regarded to this day as some of the greatest made in Congress, but they weren't always convincing. He ran for president three times, and twice he was offered to run as vice president by men who were elected president and died in office (Harrison and Tyler). Early in his career he opposed tariffs and favored free trade, he reversed that position in later years; some argue that he was beholden to wealthy New England manufacturers who had been shopkeepers in his earlier terms, and thus responding to their changing interest. Although opposed to slavery, he was much more dedicated to maintaining the union and lost support in the north by compromising his early positions on abolition, probably keeping him from being elected president in his final campaign. He left the office of Secretary of State when he fell from his horse on his farm, suffering a blow to the head, complicated by cirrhosis of the liver, which resulted in a fatal cerebral hemorrhage.

Biography from Wikipedia and Biography.com

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