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Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time by…

Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (1997)

by Robert Vincent Remini

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Webster's life was lived at the very heart of American history for many decades. He was a central figure of pro-Constitutional and pro-national sentiments of his day. Especially in his Supreme Court arguments, he was central to American legal development. Other men, including some elected to the Presidency, were obviously more peripheral to our history.

He made mistakes, though. His failure to support Millard Fillmore at the 1852 Whig convention actually helped lead to war. Also, he had personal failings. He could be cool and aloof to persons who could have helped him. His drinking harmed him as much as did his outrageous finances.

I'm going to have to get his speeches (through inter-library loan) and read some of them. This book was a great introduction to them. All his greatest speeches and debates are revivified here.

His life may have as much import now as it did then. He is still relevant, in part, because of all the state's rights talk these days and the virtual threat of nullification that some states have advocated recently - mostly in defense of coal, oil, and other big industry. Calls for cutting back on "big government" only make sense if this other unspoken side of "effective national government" can be seen as its balance.

He was pro-manufactures and continued to be throughout his life. His (almost too) close ties to Northern business helped the growth of industry in the U.S. and, ironically, probably increased the North's readiness for war against the South (my idea) - while at the very same time (through the tariffs he supported) increased the South's grievances. He was a very early opponent of war which he deemed unconscionable. Had he been elected President, he was such a respected man that he may have been able to delay the war. (Though they say that about a lot of things.) Thankfully (in some sense), he never lived to see it - he died in 1853. He was certainly a precursor to Lincoln.

A wonderful, if slightly slow-going, book. One well worth reading and thinking about. (Since party juxtapositions were different in ante-bellum America, the book is a rather outside-the-box kind of read.) ( )
  geoffreymeadows | Mar 26, 2011 |
3094. Daniel Webster / The Man and His Time, by Robert V. Remini. There is so much good to say about this book I scarcely know where to begin. It is a perfect book for anyone interested in the man Webster and the super-interesting time he lived. And the footnotes are where they belong--on the same page, so one can see whether they should be read or can be skipped. (read July 26, 1998). ( )
  Schmerguls | Dec 12, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393045528, Hardcover)

Daniel Webster: The Man And His Time

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this monumental new biography, Robert V. Remini gives us a full life of Webster from his birth, early schooling, and rapid rise as a lawyer and politician in New Hampshire to his equally successful career in Massachusetts where he moved in 1816. Remini treats both the man and his time as they tangle in issues such as westward expansion, growth of democracy, market revolution, slavery and abolitionism, the National Bank, and tariff issues. Webster's famous speeches are fully discussed as are his relations with the other two of the "great triumvirate", Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Throughout, Remini pays close attention to Webster's personal life - perhaps more than Webster would have liked - his relationships with family and friends, and his murky financial dealings with men of wealth and influence.… (more)

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