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Publications - Exterior Statues and Memorials at the New Hampshire State House Complex

Daniel WebsterDaniel Webster (1782 - 1852) born at Franklin (NH). Was the most famous lawyer, statesman and orator of his day. He graduated from Dartmouth College (Class of 1801) and was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1805. For a decade Webster practiced law at Portsmouth, and he served as a New Hampshire Federalist in the U. S. House of Representatives (1813 - 1817). But in 1816 Webster moved to Boston, and it was at Boston that he made his reputation as a lawyer, in the Dartmouth College case and in McCullough v. Maryland, two of the landmark decisions of the early Supreme Court. Both cases were decided in 1819; Chief Justice John Marshall's opinions are still required reading in many courses covering American jurisprudence.

In the aftermath of the two court cases mentioned above, Webster's skills as an orator received new attention. He was selected to give the principal address on the occasion of the bicentennial celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock (1620 - 1820). He spoke at Bunker Hill in 1825, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolutionary War battle. In 1826 Webster eulogized John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom had died within hours of each other, on July 4, 1825. Webster served again in the U. S. House of Representatives (1823 - 1827), this time as a representative from Massachusetts, and in the United States Senate (served 1827 - 1841). Webster was considered for a presidential nomination several times, beginning in 1836. He never secured a presidential nomination.

In 1829, in debate against South Carolina Representative Robert Hayne, Webster argued a position on slavery to which he adhered for the rest of his life. Webster felt that the United States had to be preserved as an entity, and at all costs it should not be allowed to split into rival republics over the issue of slavery. Therefore slavery as an issue should be decided by individual states. The individual states had the right to decide their own destinies, even on so important and moral a question as slavery.

Webster's pragmatic position on slavery became increasingly untenable to his New England political base as the years passed. Serving again in the United States Senate (1845 - 1850) Webster voted against annexation of Texas (1845), and against war with Mexico (1847 - 1848). These votes against the "Manifest Destiny" of the country were used against him. Yet Webster commanded tremendous respect and loyalty among the public. Twice named Secretary of State (served 1841 - 1843, 1850 - 1852), Webster died while serving as Secretary of State, after backing the Compromise of 1850.

The statue of Daniel Webster on the State House lawn weighs two thousand pounds without its base. The figure was designed by the American sculptor Thomas Ball (1819 -1911) in 1853, following Webster's death. This cast in bronze was made at the Ferdinand von Miller Foundry, Munich, Germany in 1885. It was dedicated June 17, 1886.

For more about Webster, see at Portraits of State and National Legislators at the State House Second Floor.

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