Daniel Webster Against Universal Manhood Suffrage (1820)
Daniel Webster, born in Salisbury, N.H. on January 18, 1782. • He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801 • He became a prominent lawyer and Federalist party leader • Massachusetts elected him in 1812 to the U.S. House of Representatives because of his opposition to the War of 1812, which had crippled New England's shipping trade. • He was an outspoken critic of the Madison administration and its wartime policies, denouncing its efforts at financing the war through paper money and opposing Secretary of War James Monroe's conscription proposal. • In 1828, the dominant economic interests of Massachusetts having shifted from shipping to manufacturing, Webster backed the high-tariff bill of that year. Angry Southern leaders condemned the tariff, and South Carolina's John C. Calhoun argued that his state had the right to nullify the law. Replying to South Carolina's Robert Hayne in a Senate debate in 1830, Webster triumphantly defended the Union. His words "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!" won wide acclaim. (Sydney Nathans, Daniel Webster Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995) • Webster ran for the presidency in 1836 as one of three Whig party candidates but carried only Massachusetts. For the remainder of his career he aspired vainly to the presidency. • In 1841, President William Henry Harrison named Webster secretary of state. • Webster opposed the annexation of Texas in 1845 and the resulting war with Mexico. He also opposed the expansion of slavery, but feared even more a dissolution of the Union over the dispute. In a powerful speech before the Senate on Mar. 7, 1850, he supported the Compromise of 1850, denouncing Southern threats of secession but urging Northern support for a stronger law for the recovery of fugitive slaves. (Sydney Nathans, Daniel Webster Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1995) • In 1952, he ran as a Whig for the presidency, but again lost. His critics pointed to his support for the Compromise of 1850, accusing him to pandering to southern voters to aid his presidential campaign. Ralph Waldo Emerson called this politicking “profoundly selfish.” • He died on October 24, 1852 after falling from his horse and suffering a crushing blow to the head. BACKGROUND
Daniel Webster, Against Universal Manhood Suffrage (1820) Qualifications For Holding Government Office 1 Mandatory Qualifications: A. Those serving in Elected offices must have experience B. Government officials must be property holders 2 Optional Qualifications A. An officer's religious convictions can be considered B. Those who vote may prefer a Christian to hold office, if so, they can choose not to vote for a candidate lacking Christian membership C. One seeking office can choose to decline a position according to his determination to fulfill mandatory and optional qualifications Webster, an attorney and later a senator, argues that: any government made up of individuals without property are subject to discontent, revolutions, and can only be controlled by martial law. Christianity can be considered if those who vote insist upon it, but the particular sect of Christianity is irrelevant, rather the essential principles embodied in Christian doctrine should be the priority concern.