Daniel Webster as An Economist

By Robert Lincoln Carey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS

1. CONSERVATISM

WEBSTER was by birth and temperament a conservative, displaying none of the skepticism which was a feature of his time. Inheriting his religion and politics from his for- bears, he accepted them without question. He had something of the spirit of Lord Thurlow who once said: "I support the Church of England because it is established". His views on political and economic questions were guided by much the same spirit, a profound faith in existing institutions and established practices. Politically, he could never have been anything else than a Federalist. In his early life, he cordially hated everything Democratic, the very thought of the Jeffersonian triumph in 1800 paining him acutely. He abhorred the "corrupt" character of the "contagion of Democracy" wherever its influence was felt. He never departed from his faith in the principles of Federalism, remaining always a steadfast and loyal party man. This devotion to his party colored his opinions on economic questions far less than did his conservative temperament. Because he was a strong party politician does not mean that he was blindly intolerant and a slave of partisanship, as his father and brother were. By the time he had reached his maturity, a greatness and breadth of mind precluded any attitude of bigotry and narrowness. He regarded contemporary institutions with contentment and satisfaction, but only because his intellect and understanding had convinced him that they were beneficent and that change would be harmful.

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