Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Daniel Webster

                Daniel Webster was born on January 18, 1782, in Salisbury, New Hampshire – now known as Franklin.  His parents were Ebenezer and Abigail Eastman Webster, and he had nine siblings.  The family lived on a farm, which consisted of a small piece of land granted to his father.  Daniel Webster’s ancestors were some of the first settlers to live in Salisbury.

                Webster attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a preparatory school, and then entered Dartmouth College.  After he graduated from Dartmouth, Webster became an apprentice to Thomas W. Thompson, a lawyer in Salisbury.  He resigned from the law office and obtained work as a school teacher in 1802 in order to help his older brother Ezekiel pay for his education.  He returned to his apprenticeship about a year later.  In 1804 he moved to Boston to be a law clerk for Christopher Gore, a prominent attorney involved in international, national, and state politics.  While working for Gore, Webster learned much about legal and political matter and met numerous politicians from the New England area. 

                In 1805 Webster was admitted to the bar and returned to New Hampshire to open his practice in Boscawen.  One of the reasons he moved was to be near his father who was ailing.  Webster was reared by a father who was an ardent Federalist and was taught by a Dartmouth faculty that leaned towards Federalism; he eventually became interested in politics.  After his father passed away in 1806, he gave his law practice to Ezekiel who had been admitted to the bar and started to give speeches that supported Federalist causes and candidates. 

                Daniel Webster became the leading Senator from Massachusetts in the years leading up to the Civil War.  “He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests.  Webster’s increasingly nationalistic views, and his effectiveness as a speaker made him one of the most famous orators and influential Whig leaders of the Second Party System.  He was one of the nation’s most prominent conservatives, leading opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party.  He was a spokesman for modernization, banking and industry, but not for the common people who composed the base of his enemies in Jacksonian Democracy….  During his 40 years in national politics, Webster served in the House of Representatives for 10 years (representing New Hampshire), in the Senate for 19 years (representing Massachusetts, and was appointed the United States Secretary of State under three presidents” –  Millard Fillmore, William Henry Harrison, and John Tyler. 
                “… Webster tried and failed three times to become President of the United States.  In 1957, a Senate Committee selected Webster as one of the five greatest U.S. Senators with Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Robert LaFollette, and Robert Taft.”

                Daniel Webster fell from his horse and suffered a blow to the head; he died from cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts, on October 24, 1852.  He was buried in the “Old Winslow Burial Ground” part of the Winslow Cemetery, near Marshfield.  The day prior to his death, he was visited by his best friend, Peter Harvey.  When Harvey commented that Webster did not look good, Webster told him, “Be faithful friend.  I shall be dead tomorrow.”  His last words were:  “I still live.”

                Daniel Webster’s legacy includes a play, a college, a dormitory, many schools, numerous counties and towns, a submarine, a hotel, a mountain peak, a Boy Scout council and trail, and a highway carrying his name as well as numerous statues.  “Few famous Americans other than US Presidents are ever honored on US Postage more than once or twice, as Daniel Webster has been.  One of the perhaps not so famous things Webster was noted for was to introduce legislation to produce pre-paid adhesive postage stamps for the U.S. Post Office, the first of which were issued in 1847.  The first Webster postage stamp, bearing only Webster’s portrait, was not issued until April 12 of 1870, 18 years after his death.  The last issue honoring Webster (to date) was another commemorative stamp, a 37-cent stamp issued in 2002.  In all, Daniel Webster is honored on eleven different US Postage issues, more than most US Presidents.”

                Webster married Grace Fletcher Webster (1781-1828; married 1808-1828), and they became the parents of five children: Grace Fletcher Webster (also known as “Little Grace;” April 29, 1810 – January 23, 1817; died at age 7); Jully Webster Appleton (sometimes spelled Julia; January 16, 1818 – April 28, 1848; died at age 30); Daniel Fletcher Webster (known as “Fletcher;” July 25, 1818 [?] – August 29-30, 1862; killed in action while serving as a Colonel in the 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Union Army of the Potomac, during the Second Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War; died at age 44; only child to survive his father); Edward Webster (July 20, 1820 – July 23, 1848; was a Major in the First Massachusetts Infantry when killed in the Mexican-American War; died unmarried at age 28); and Charles Webster (December 11, 1821 – December 19, 1824; died at age 3). 

                Grace Fletcher Webster died at age 47 on January 21, 1828, and was buried next to her oldest and youngest children (Grace and Charles) who preceded her in death.  The three bodies were later moved and reinterred with the rest of the family at Winslow Cemetery (AKA Old Winslow Burying Ground), in Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

                Daniel Fletcher Webster had two sons:  one died unmarried and the other had a son who died without “issue.”  It appears that Daniel Webster’s (the statesman) had no descendants that bore the surname Webster. Julia married Samuel A. Appleton in London on September 24, 1839, and the marriage produced five children (Caroline, Samuel Jr., Julia, Daniel, and Constance Mary).  

                Webster married Caroline Bayard LeRoy Webster in 1829, but they had no children together.  Caroline was not buried with the rest of the family.

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