Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Daniel Webster (1841): Secretary of State

Daniel Webster was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire, on January 18, 1782, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801. He was admitted to the New Hampshire state bar in 1805, and later became a U.S. congressman (1813-1817). He soon won fame as an accomplished attorney and emerged victorious in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, arguing on behalf of his alma mater.

Webster became a delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1820 and then an important member of Congress, first as a representative (1823-1827) and then as a senator (1827-1841). President William Henry Harrison made him as his secretary of state, and Webster remained in that post until 1843. Unlike the rest of the cabinet, Webster did not resign when Harrison's successor, President John Tyler, vetoed the Bank of the United States, remaining heavily involved in discussions with Britain over the border between Canada and Maine.

Following his resignation from the cabinet in 1843, Webster was again elected to the Senate (1845-1850), leading the Unionist Faction during the nullification debates. President Millard Fillmore tapped Webster to be his secretary of state in 1850, and Webster remained in that post until his death in Marshfield, Massachusetts, on October 24, 1852