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in a few years the foremost lawyer in New England.
His argument before the supreme court of the United
States in the Dartmouth College case, in 1818, raised
him to the highest rank as a constitutional lawyer. The
caae was -decided in favour of his clients, and by this
decision the law of the land in reference to collegiate
charters was firmly established. Thenceforth he was
retained in nearly all important cases that were argued
before the supreme court at Washington. lie also
exhibited great skill as a criminal lawyer, in cross-exam-
ining witnesses, and in baffling the deepest plans of per-
jury and fraud. The effect of his arguments was enhanced
by a deep-toned, musical, and powerful voice, and by
the magnetism of his imposing presence and personal
qualities. " His influence over juries," says " Eraser's
Magazine" for August, 1870, " was due chiefly to the
combination of a power of lucid statement with his
extraordinary oratorical force. . . . His power of setting
forth truth was magnificent."

Mr. Webster was a member of the Convention which
met in 1820 to revise the Constitution of Massachusetts.
Of his services in this Convention, Judge Story expressed
a high opinion in a letter to a friend, saying, " The whole
force of his great mind was brought out, and in several
speeches he commanded universal admiration." In De-
cember, 1820, he pronounced at Plymouth a celebrated
oration on the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrim
fathers. " This," says Everett, " was the first of a series
of performances, aside from the efforts of the senate and
the bar, by which Mr. Webster placed himself at the
head of American orators." In 1822 he was elected by
the voters of Boston a member of the Congress which
met in December, 1823. On the subject of the Greek
Revolution he made (January, 1824) a famous speech, in
which he denounced the principles of the Holy Alliance
with powerful effect.

As chairman of the judiciary committee, he reported
a complete revision of the criminal lav/ of the United
States, which was approved by the House. He was re-
elected, in the autumn of 1824, by a nearly unanimous
vote, and supported John Q. Adams in the ensuing elec-
tion of President. In June, 1825, he delivered an oration
on laying the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monu-
ment. To the same class of orations belongs his admi-
rable eulogy on Adams and Jefferson, pronounced in
Faneuil Hall, Boston, in August, 1826. " His consum-
mate skill of composition and delivery," says Mr. G. T.
Curtis, "gave to a supposititious speech of John Adams
all the effect of a real utterance of that patriot." George
Ticknor, who heard this eulogy, says, "His bearing, as
he stood before the vast multitude, was that of absolute
dignity and power." He continued to serve in the House
of Representatives until 1828, when he was transferred
to the Senate of the United States. As a Senator he
voted for the Tariff bill of 1828. Though not deeply
interested in the Presidential election of 1828, he sup-
ported John Q Adams in preference to General Jackson.
Having lost his first wife, (who died in January, 1828,;
he married Caroline Le Roy, of New York City, in De
cember, 1829.

His most memorable parliamentary effort was his tri-
umphant reply to Hayne, of South Carolina, who had
affirmed the right of a State to nullify the acts of Con-
jress, had assailed New England, ?.nd had provoked
Mr. Webster by caustic personalities. It was on the
26th of January, 1830, that Webster began this great
argument in defence of the Union and the Constitution,
which was probably the most remarkable speech ever
made in the American Congress. His peroration ends
with the following magnificent passage : " When my
eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun
in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and
dishonoured fragments of a once glorious Union ; on
States dissevered, discordant, belligerent ; on a land
rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal
jlood ! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather
Behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known

eas k; 9 as /; g hard; g as/'; G, H, K, guttural; N, nasal; R, trilled; s as ; th as in this. (0Jf=See Explanations, p.




and honoured throughout the earth, still foil high ad-
vanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original
lustre, not .1 stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star
obscured bearing for its motto no such miserable in-
terrogatory as What ii all this worth ? nor those other
words of delusion and folly, Liberty first, and Union after-
wards but everywhere, spread all over in characters of
living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float
over the sea and over the land, that other sentiment,
dear to every true American heart Liberty and Union,
now and forever, one and inseparable I" " Webster
had," says Mr. Curtis, "but a single night in which to
make preparation to answer the really important parts
of the preceding speech of his opponent."

In May, 1832, he made an important speech for the
renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States.
This bill passed both houses of Congress, but was
vetoed by President Jackson. About this date he pur-
chased an estate at Marshfield, on the sea-shore, which
was his usual summer residence. He supported Mr.
Clay for President in the election of 1832, but in the
great crisis of the Nullification question, in 1833, he op-
posed Clay's Compromise Tariff bill, and voted for the
" Force Hill" of the Administration. On these subjects
Webster and Calhoun were adversaries in debate. Mr.
Webster became one of the most popular leaders of
the Whig party, which was organized about 1834, and
he was nominated for the Presidency by the Whigs of

In September, 1837, as a member of the Senate, he
opposed the Sub-Treasury bill in an elaborate speech,
said to have been the most effective of all his arguments
on the subjects of currency and finance. He visited
England, Scotland, and France in 1839, attracting the
admiration of Carlyle, who met him at table, and thus
estimated him: "He is a magnificent specimen. As a
logic-fencer, advocate, or parliamentary Hercules, one
would incline to back him, at first sight, against all the
extant world." He was re-elected to the Senate in
January, 1839, and actively promoted the election of
General Harrison to the Presidency in 1840, by public
speeches at Saratoga, Richmond, Virginia, etc. In
March, 1841, he was appointed secretary of state by
President Harrison, after whose death he was retained
in that office by Tyler. He negotiated with the English
ambassador, Lord Ashburton, a treaty which settled
the long and serioas dispute about the Northeastern
boundary of the United States. This important treaty
.was signed August 9, 1842. In compliance with the
general desire of the Whigs, (whose interests President
Tyler had betrayed,) he resigned office in May, 1843.
He was urged to return to the national Senate ; but his
private interest and duties dissuaded him. In a letter
dated Februarys, 1844, he says, "I am now earning
and receiving fifteen thousand dollars a year from my
profession, which must be almost entirely sacrificed by
a return to the Senate."

In the campaign of 1844 he earnestly advocated the
election of Mr. Clay, who was his chief rival in the favour
and leadership of the Whig party. He opposed the
annexation of Texas, for the reason that it would involve
the extension of slavery.

He was again elected a Senator of the United States
in the winter of 1844-45, as tne successor of Mr. Choate.
In December, 1845, he made a speech in the Senate
against the admission of Texas as a slave State, and in
February, 1847, ha declared that he opposed the prose-
cution of the Mexican war for the conquest of territory
to form new States of our Union. Although Mr. Web-
ster and his friends were disappointed by the nomination
of General Taylor in 1^48, he voted for him in prefer-
ence to General Cass. In consequence of the acquisition
of Mexican territory by conquest, the sectional conflict
relative to slavery became more and more violent and
irrepressible, with an alarming proclivity towards dis-
union. The houses of Congress became in 1850 the
scene of intense excitement about the admission of
California and the organization of the new territories.
The imminent danger of this crisis was averted or post-
poned by Mr. Clay's "Compromise Measures," which
Mr. Webster supported in an elaborate speech on the

7th of March, 1850. This compromise consisted of a
number of resolutions, one of which declared that the
new territories should be organized without the adoption
of any restriction or condition on the subject of slavery;
and another, that more effectual provision ought to be
made by law for the restitution of fugitive slaves. On
the first of these points he argued that he would not re-
enact by human law what was already settled by a law
of God ; that slavery could not be introduced into those
territories, by reason of their natural unfimess for slave
labour. His support of these measures gave great
offence to many of his admirers, and to the opponents
of slavery, who accused him of sacrificing an importanf
principle to a supposed political expediency.*

In July, 1850, before the final vote on the Compromise
bill, President Taylor died, and was succeeded by Vice-
President Fillmore, who appointed Mr. Webster secre-
tary of state. On the i?th of July he addressed the
Senate on the subjects connected with the Compromise
bill and Wilmot proviso. This was his last speech in
the Senate. He delivered an eloquent address on the
4th of July, 1851, at the laying of the corner-stone of
the extension of the Capitol at Washington. His last
important forensic argument was on the Indian Rubber
Patent cause, at Trenton, in January, 1852. Among his
later official acts was a celebrated despatch to Hulse-
mann, the Austrian charge-d'affaires, occasioned by the
revolt of the Hungarian patriots. This document was
dated in December, 1851. In May, 1852, he was thrown
from his carriage, and seriously injured, near Plymouth,
Massachusetts ; but he was afterwards able to revisit
Washington. After all his sacrifices and concessions to
the pro-slavery party, he received in the National Whig
Convention of 1852 only thirty-two votes, and those
from Northern men, although it was known that he-
wished to be nominated for the Presidency. He died
at Marshfield, October 24, 1852, leaving one son,
Fletcher, noticed below. His other sons and daughters
died before their father.

In stature he was tall, his head and brain of great
size, his eyes large, black, and lustrous. He was
greatly distinguished for his conversational powers and
genial temper in society. "To those," says Curtis,
"who have known Mr. Webster only in public, it is
difficult to give an idea of the genial affections which
at every period of his life flowed out from him in the
domestic circle, and still more difficult to paint the
abounding gayety and humour and fascination of his
early days." " He was," says " Eraser's Magazine" for
August, 1870, "the greatest orator that has ever lived
in the Western hemisphere. Less vehement than Cal-
houn, less persuasive than Clay, he was yet more grand
and powerful than either."

"Mr. Webster," says Hallam, the great historian,
"approaches as nearly to the beau-idtal of a republican
senator as any man that I have ever seen in the course
of my life; worthy of Rome or Venice, rather than of
our noisy and wrangling generation." (Letter to Mrs,
Ticknor, dated January 21, 1840.)

See GBORGH T. CURTIS, "Life of Daniel Webster," 2 vols., 1870;
CHARLHS LANMAN, "Private Life of Daniel Webster," 1853: S. U
KNAPP, "Life of D. Webster," 1851 ; MARCKER, "D. Webster, del
Amenkanische Staatsmann." Berlin, 1853: EDWARD EvEpaTT.
" Memoir of D. Webster," prefixed to an edition of Webster's
Collective Works, 6 vols. 8vo, 1851 ; and his article on Daniel
Webster in ihe " New American Cyclopaedia."

Webster, (EBENF.ZER,) an American patriot of the
Revolution, born at Kingston, New Hampshire, in 1739,
was the father of Daniel Webster. He served in the
war against the French, and in the subsequent cam-
paigns of the Revolutionary war. Died in 1806.

'Webster, (EZEKIKL,) a son of the preceding, born in
1780, graduated at Dartmouth College, and acquired a
high reputation as a lawyer. Died in 1829.

Webster, (FLFTCHER,) an American officer, born at
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1812, was a son of the.

1 1 was not the ultra abolitionists only that condemned his course.
Mr. Seward in 1858 spoke of Webster as " a great statesman, who
fora larc.e portion of his life led the vanguard of the army of freedom,
and who, on the great day when the contest came to a decisive
issue, surrendered that great cause then in his place, and derided the
proviso of freedom, the principle of the ordinance of 1787."-

a, e. i, 5, 0, y, long; a, e, 6, sameness prolonged; a, e, 1, 6, 0, J, short; a, e, j, 9, obscure; far. fill, fat; met; not; goSd; moonj




celebrated Daniel Webster. He served as assistant
secretary of state in 1841 and 1842. He enlisted as
colonel in the Union army in 1861, and was killed at the
battle of Gainesville, or Bull Run, in August, 1862.

Webster, (JOHN,) an able English dramatist of the
seventeenth century. His principal works are "The
\Vhite Devil," "The Duchess of Malfi," (1623,) and
"Appius and Virginia," (1624.) He occupies a high
rank among the immediate successors of Shakspeare.

See " Retrospective Review," vol. vii., (1823 :) CAMPBELL, " Speci-
mens of the British Poets."

'Webster, (JOSEPH D.,) an American general, born
In New Hampshire about 181 1, became a civil engineer.
He served as colonel at the capture of Fort Donelson,
February, 1862, and was chief of staff to General Grant
at the battle of Shiloh, April 6 and 7. He directed the
artillery with skill in this action, and was promoted to
be a brigadier-general. Died March 12, 1876.

'Webster, (NOAH,) a distinguished American phi-
lologist and lexicographer, born at West Hartford,
Connecticut, in October, 1758. He graduated at Vale
College in 1778, studied law, and was admitted to the
bar in 1781, soon after which he became a school-
teacher. He published "Sketches of American Policy,"
(1785,) and "Dissertations on the English Language,"
(1789.) In 1793 he began to issue, in New York, a
daily paper called "The Minerva," the name of which
was soon changed to "Commercial Advertiser." In this
journal he defended the policy of the Federal adminis-
tration. About 1798 he removed to New Haven. He
expended the labour of many years on a " Dictionary
of the English Language," which was published in 1828
and was highly esteemed. An enlarged edition of this
dictionary was published in 1840, and a quarto edition,
revised by C. A. Goodrich, appeared in 1859. Another
and greatly improved edition of Webster's Dictionary,
with numerous pictorial illustrations incorporated in the
body of the work, appeared in 1864. He died at New
Haven in May, 1843.

See the " National Portrait-Gallery of Distinguished Americans,"
vol. ii. ; DUYCKINCK, "Cyclopaedia of American Literature," vol.!.;
*' North American Review" for April, 1829.

Webster, (THOMAS,) a British geologist, born in the
Orkney Islands about 1773. He wrote a treatise on
"Fresh-Water Beds in the Isle of Wight," and became
professor of geology in the London University. Died
fn 1844-

Webster, (THOMAS,) an English painter, born in
London in 1800, studied at the Royal Academy, of which
he was elected an associate in 1841. His favourite sub-
jects are children, and his best works represent school-
boys and their sports. Among these we may name "The
Slide," "A Farm-House Kitchen," "A See-Saw," "A
School Play-Ground," "The Internal Economy of Do-
theboys Hall," "Peasant Children," "Hide and Seek,"
'The Wreck Ashore," (1874.) "A Birthday Tea-Party,"
(1876,) and "The Letter," (1877.) He was chosen a
Royal Academician in 1846, and resigned his member-
ship in 1876. Died in 1886.

Webster, (WILLIAM,) an English clergyman and
polemical writer, born in 1689. He became curate of
Saint Dunstan, in West London, in 1715, and rector of
Depden in 1733. Died in 1758.

WecheL, va'shel' or weK'el, (ANDREW,) an eminent
printer, born in Paris about 1510, was a son of Christian,
and was a Protestant. He succeeded his father in 1554,
and purchased the stock of Henri Estienne in 1560. He
carried on business in Paris until the massacre of 1572,
and then removed his presses to Frankfort. Died in 1581.

Wechel, we'K'el, (CHRISTIAN,) a celebrated German
printer, established a printing-office in Paris about 1527,
from which he issued many excellent editions of the
classics. He afterwards settled at Frankfort-on-the-
Main, where his business was carried on with equal
reputation and success by his son Andrew. Died in

Weckerlin, von, fon weVker-leen', (AUGUST,) a
German agriculturist, born at Stuttgart in 1794, pub-
lished a treatise "On English Agriculture," and other
similar works. Died December 21, 1868.

Weckherlin.weVker-leen', (GEORO Runoi.F,) a Ger-

man poet, born at Stuttgart in 1584. Having travelled
in various parts of Europe, he settled eventually in
London, and was employed by James I. and Charles 1
in several important missions. He was one of the
earliest reformers of German poetry, and he is said to
have first introduced into the language the ode, sonnit,
and epigram. Among his principal works we may name
his heroic poem on the death of Gustavus Adolphas.
Died about i65t.

See CARL P. CONZ, " Njclirichten von dem Leben G. R. Week-
lierlin's," 1803.

Weckherlin,(WiLHELM LUDWIG,) a German writet,
born near Wiirtemberg in 1739, was the author of seve-
ral satirical and political works. Died in 1792.

Wed'der-burn, (ALEXANDER,) Lord Loughborough
and Earl of Rosslyn, an eminent British jurist and poli-
tician, born in East Lothian in 1733. He was in early
life an advocate of Edinburgh, where he distinguished
himself by his eloquence and the fierceness of his in-
vective. Having quarrelled with the court, he removed
to London in 1753, an d was called to the bar a few years
later. He took great pains to eradicate his Northern
accent. He became king's counsel in 1763, was elected
a member of Parliament about the same time, and joined
the Northern circuit. " He was far from being a pro-
found lawyer," says Lord Brougham. "His strength
lay in dealing with facts ; and here all his contemporaries
represent his powers to have been unrivalled. It was
probably this genius for narrative, for arguing upon
probabilities, for marshalling and sifting evidence, that
shone so brilliantly in his great speech at the bar of the
House of Lords upon the celebrated Douglas cause, and
which no less a judge than Mr. Fox pronounced to be
the very finest he ever heard on any subject." ("His-
torical Sketches of the Statesmen of the Time of George
III.") He was appointed solicitor-general by Lord
North in 1771, soon after which he andThurlow became
the two main supporters of the prime minister in the
House of Commons. In a famous speech the
Americans before the privy council, he indulged in offen-
sive personalities against Franklin, calling him a man
of three letters, the old Roman joke for a thief, (fur.)
In 1778 he was appointed attorney-general, and in 1780
obtained the office of chief justice of the court of common
pleas, with the title of Lord Loughborough. On the
bench he continued to be an unscrupulous partisan, and
during the short ministry formed by a coalition of Fox
and Lord North (1783) he was chief commissioner of
the great seal. In the first years of Pitt's administration
Wedderburn was the leader of the opposition in the
House of Lords. When the king became deranged,
(1789,) he advised the Prince of Wales to proclaim
himself regent ; but his desperate counsels were not
followed. He was oneof the members that seceded from
the Whig or opposition party on questions connected
with the French Revolution, and was appointed lord
chancellor in 1793. He retained this office until the for-
mation of a new ministry, April, 1801, and was then
created Earl of Rosslyn. He died, without issue, in
1805. According to Lord Brougham, "his r rosperous
career, supported by no fixed principles, illustrated by
no sacrifices to public virtue, ... at length closed in
the disappointment of mean, unworthy desires, and ended
amidst universal neglect."

See " Historical Sketches of the Statesmen of the Ti-ne of Georgs
III.," vol. i. ; LORD CVMPBELI., " Lives of tlie Lord Chancellors; 11
CHAMBERS, " Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen. "

Wedderburn, (DAVID,) a Scottish scholar and Latin
poet, born about 1570. He taught school at Aberdeen,
and wrote numerous poeins. Died about 16^0.

Wedderkopf, von, fon wed'der-kopf, (MAGNUS,) a
statesman and jurist, born at Husum, in Holstein, in
1638. He became professor of law at Kiel, and prime
minister cf the Duke of Holstein in 1705. He published
several legal works. Died in 1721. His brother GA-
BRIEL, born in 1644, was a writer on theology, pastor at
Kiel, and court preacher. Died in 1696.

Wedekind, wa'deh-kW, (ANTON CHRISTIAN,) a
German historical writer, born in the duchy of Verden
in 1763. He published a "Chronological Manual of
Modern History," (1816.) and other works. Died in 1845.

as k, as J,' g hard; g as/; G, H, ^guttural; N, nasal; ^,trilUd; s as z; th as in ttiis. (J^=See Explanations, p. 23.)




a German physician, born at Gottingen in 1761, became
professor of medicine at Mentz. He published a num-
ber of medical and miscellaneous works. Died in 1831.
Wedekind, (GEORG WILHELM,) BARON, a son of
the preceding, was born at Strasburg in 1796. He
published an " Encyclopaedia of Forest Science," (1847,)
and other similar works. Died January 22, 1856.

Wedel, wa'del, (ERNST HEINRICH,) a German phy-
sician, born at Gotha in 1671, was a son of Georg Wolf-
gang, noticed below. He was the author of a work
entitled "On the Diseases of Public Speakers," ("De
Morbis Concionatorum.") Died in 1708. His brother
JOHANN ADOLF published several medical treatises.

Wedel, (GEORG WOLFGANG,) a learned German
physician, born at Golzen, in Lusatia, in 1645. He
studied at Jena, where he became professor of medicine
in 1673. He was also first physician to the Duke of
Saxe-Weimar, and was created in 1694 a count-palatine
and imperial councillor. He was distinguished as a
mathematician and Orientalist, as well as for his know-
ledge of medical science, and was one of the most vo-
luminous writers of his time. Among his principal works
we may name " Opiologia," etc., (1674,) " Exercitationes
Pathologicae," (1675,) and "Pharmacy reduced to the
Form of an Art," (in Latin.) Died in 1721.

Wedel, (JOHANN ADOLF,) a medical writer, a son of
the preceding, born at Jena in 1675, became professor
in the University of Jena in 1709. Died after 1746.

Wedel, (JOHANN WOLFGANG,) a German botanist,
born in 1708, practised medicine at Jena. He wrote
"Botanical Essay," ("Tentamen Botanicum," 1747.)
Died in 1757.

Wedel, von, fon wa'del, (KARL HEINRICH,) a Prus-
sian general, born in the Uckermark in 1712. He distin-
guished himself in the Seven Years' war. The victory
of the Prussians at Leuthen (1757) was attributed to
Wedel by Frederick the Great. Died in 1782.

Wedel-Jarlsberg, fta'del yaRls'be 1 RG, (JoHANN KAS
PAR HERMANN,) a Danish statesman, was born at Mont'
pellier, in France, in 1779. He studied at Copenhagen,
and rose through several offices to be minister of finance
in 1822. Died in 1840.

Wedg'wood, (JosiAH.) a celebrated English artisan,
born in Burslem, in Staffordshire, in 1730. His oppor-
tunities for education were very limited, and in his early
youth he worked in the pottery of an elder brother at
Burslem. In 1759 he established in that place a manu-
factory of ornamental pottery, where he soon after pro-
duced the beautiful cream-coloured ware since called by
his name. A table-service of this kind was ordered by
Queen Charlotte, who appointed Wedgwood her potter.
He subsequently opened a warehouse in London, where
he executed copies of antique vases, cameos, and sculp
turc, remarkable for their accuracy and exquisite work
manship. Among his works in this department were
fifty copies of the celebrated Portland vase, which were
sold for fifty guineas each. Some of his compositions

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Online LibraryJoseph ThomasUniversal pronouncing dictionary of biography and mythology (Volume 2) → online text (page 391 of 425)