Daniel Webster as An Economist

By Robert Lincoln Carey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
GENERAL PRINCIPLES

IT is not surprising that, on account of his general skill as an economist and his particular propensity for financial problems, Webster should have applied himself so energetically to the questions of public finance. His abundant capacities as a government financier were recognized by his associates. For a long term of years, he served as chairman of the Senate Finance committee and by more than one president was seriously considered as an appointee to the Secretaryship of the Treasury. His prodigious legal and political talents, however, along with his own preference, qualified him almost perfectly for leadership in the department of state.

There is no single discussion under one title, in Websterian literature, of general principles of public finance. This is explained by his concentration upon actual fiscal issues. His faith in the validity of general principles was, indeed, considerable, his use of them consisting in their application, as in private finance, to specific problems. Although Webster's opinions on government financing were closely allied to and even a continuation of his ideas on private finance, a separate treatment of the former is justifiable. The exposition in this part is made under two main divisions: first, general fiscal notions of Webster; and, second, his opinions and criticism of particular fiscal problems.

The first division suggested above comprised three topics, public revenue, public expenditure, and public credit, each of which is to be considered in the order mentioned.

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