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Daniel Webster
1782 - 1852

American statesman, lawyer, orator, nationalist. Webster was secretary of state to President Millard Fillmore, and served several terms in the U.S. Congress. He practiced law for a while, establishing a reputation as a brilliant lawyer and orator and winning major constitutional cases in the Supreme Court, before being reelected as a congressman and then elected as a senator from Massachusetts.


Knowledge is the great sun of the firmament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams.

quoted by John F. Kennedy in a speech at the University of California - Berkeley, Mar. 23, 1962
Repression is the seed of revolution.

If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

... the powers of government are but a trust, and ... they cannot be lawfully exercised but for the good of the community.

Jun. 17, 1825 - from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
[Popular democratic government] The last hopes of mankind ... rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth. ... there remains to us a great duty of defense and preservation; and there is opened to us also a noble pursuit to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us.

Jun. 17, 1825 - from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy

1819 - from his brief in McCulloch v. Maryland
Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.

Liberty and Union now and forever, one and inseparable.

1830 - from an address to the U.S. Senate in response to southern senators who asserted that individual states had the right to disobey Congress
In the nature of things, those who have no property and see their neighbors possess much more than they think them to need, cannot be favorable to laws made for the protection of property. When this class becomes numerous, it becomes clamorous. It looks on property as its prey and plunder, and is naturally ready, at times, for violence and revolution.

No government is respectable which is not just.- Without unspotted purity of public faith, without sacred public principle, fidelity, and honor, no machinery of laws, can give dignity to political society.

Let us thank God that we live in an age when something has influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest authority does not venture to encounter the scorching power of public reproach.

Jun. 17, 1825 - [Must we go back to bayonets now? Ed.] from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution