Born in the final days of the American Revolution, Daniel Webster would leave his mark on the following century, of which he was one of its mightiest statesmen. His remarkable life and career illustrate like few others the central issues of that century, especially the growing rift that would undermine the union and set the stage for America’s greatest crisis.
As a young attorney, Webster participated in McCulloch v. Maryland, which established implied powers and limited the power of the states to impede constitutionally valid actions taken by the federal government. As a senator, he opposed nullification by southern states, as he expressed in his legendary “Reply to Hayne” speech, and provided critical support for the Compromise of 1850. As secretary of state in 1842—the first of three separate tenures in that position, under three different presidents—Webster established the U.S.-Canada border that exists to this day. Webster served in Congress for two states (New Hampshire and Massachusetts), and, in the waning days of his Whig Party, ran for president three times. There are few roles in government he did not play, few defining issues of the mid-nineteenth century of which he did not find himself at the center.
Rotunda’s digital edition of The Papers of Daniel Webster includes the complete contents of the classic fourteen-volume print edition and adds to this the power to search its documents and those of other titles in the American History platform. This powerful resource will be indispensable to students and scholars of the nineteenth century, politics, and legal history.
Publication of The Papers of Daniel Webster Digital Edition was made possible by the generous support of the Dartmouth College Library.