August 10, 2012
DANIEL WEBSTER I
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Senator John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Profiles In Courage.”
JFK’s book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
“Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs.”
The title of Chapter III is Daniel Webster.*
*Daniel Webster (1782-1852) born in Salsbury, New Hampshire graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College. He became the leading constitutional lawyer of his time & argued more than 200 cases before the Supreme Court.
Webster served in the House of Representatives & the Senate. He was appointed Secretary of State by President Millard Fillmore. He made 3 unsuccessful bids for the Presidency.
Senator Kennedy begins this chapter by explaining how Senator Daniel Webster’s decision to support the Compromise of 1850 ‘resulted in his political crucifixion’ & subsequent ‘historical condemnation’ for the next half century.
Despite this, JFK says that Daniel Webster ‘was undoubtedly the most talented figure in our Congressional history.’
Webster was also ‘the outstanding orator of his day.’
JFK writes that Daniel Webster spoke slowly with a ‘deep organ-like voice.’
Webster gave his support to the Compromise of 1850 because, JFK tells us, “the preservation of the Union was far dearer to his heart than his opposition to slavery.”
One of the most important speeches ever delivered in the Senate of the United States was given by Daniel Webster on March 7, 1850.
He began with these words:
‘Mr. President, I wish to speak today, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American…..I speak for the preservation of the Union.’