11
THE POLITICS OF UNIONISM -- A LOSING GAME

In a futile last-ditch attempt to help Clay, the National Republicans had flooded Maine with copies of Webster's speeches. There was so much papered Webster rhetoric in the state, chortled the Washington Globe on November 14, 1832, that people were wrapping seeds and lighting their pipes with it. Six months later the Globe was reserving its ridicule for opposition leaders like Clay and Calhoun and complimenting Webster for his "manly views" in defense of Jackson. When Webster visited Cincinnati in the summer of 1833 the Globe pointedly observed that "several distinguished friends of the Administration" were on hand to toast him as "the profound expounder of the Constitution, and the eloquent supporter of the Federal Union, and the uniform friend and advocate of the Western country." But by March of 1834, the editors of the Globe had dismissed Webster from his lofty perch and were scornfully describing him as a disappointed politician out "to establish the power of a moneyed aristocracy" -- one of "the natural enemies of the rights of suffrage."1

His changing image in the columns of the country's leading Democratic paper is a good measure of Webster's fluctuating success in trying to make himself a strong presidential contender for 1836. His initial advantages were three. First, Clay had developed a reputation as a loser. Second, the opposition in 1836, whether Van Buren or some other Democrat, was bound to be less formidable than Jackson. Third, Webster could identify with an enormously powerful president in putting down nullification, the most serious threat to Union the United States had ever faced. But these advantages were

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