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Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852



  • Existence: 1782 - 1852


Daniel Webster was born on January 18, 1872 in Salisbury, New Hampshire. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801, after which he began the study of law under Thomas W. Thompson and Christopher Gore. In 1805, he opens a law practice in Boscawen, New Hampshire where he stayed there until 1807. As a result of his opposition to the War of 1812, Webster is elected to the New Hampshire House of Representative in 1813 where he served until 1817. In 1816, he moves to Boston and is elected to the Massachusetts House of Representative (1823-1827) and the Senate (1827-1841 and 1845-1850). As a senator, he was a spokesman for American nationalism with powerful oratory that made him a key Whig leader. He spoke for conservatives and led the opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party, firmly challenging Jackson's policies in the Bank War. From 1841 to 1843 and 1850 to 1852, Webster served as the United States Secretary of State. As a diplomat, he is best known for negotiating the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842 with Great Britain which established the Canada–United States border east of the Rocky Mountains. As a lawyer, Webster was highly regarded in the courtroom, shaping several key US Supreme Court cases that established important constitutional precedents and bolstered the authority of the federal government. One of the cases he argued was the Dartmouth College case in 1819. The case arose when the president of Dartmouth College was deposed by its trustees, leading to the New Hampshire legislature attempting to force the college to become a public institution and thereby place the ability to appoint trustees in the hands of the governor of New Hampshire. The Supreme Court upheld the sanctity of the original charter of the college, which pre-dated the creation of the State. The landmark case is considered one of the most important in United States history as it affirmed that the Constitution's contract clause protected private corporations from government interference. Webster died October 24, 1852.

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