Daniel Webster: Second Reply to Robert Hayne

(1830)

Although he enjoyed a long and successful career as an elected official and a diplomat, Daniel Webster is best remembered for his achievements as an orator and a lawyer. In these roles he labored to establish the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land, claiming for himself the title of the document’s foremost and authoritative interpreter. While his accomplishments as a lawyer endure in the form of critical Supreme Court rulings framed by Chief Justice John Marshall, as an orator Webster attained a form of immortality, for schoolchildren in the North in the nineteenth century often found themselves declaiming the Massachusetts senator’s words for classroom exercises in public address.

In his Second Reply to Robert Hayne (1830), a South Carolina senator, Webster combined logic and passion in framing his discussions of the Constitution. In this and other speeches he sought to forge Americans’ attachment to the Constitution as a birthright of the Revolutionary War and...

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Daniel Webster (Library of Congress)

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