Daniel Webster as an Economist

By Robert Lincoln Carey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
TARIFF VIEWS AFTER 1828

I. THE HAYNE DEBATE AND THE CLAY COMPROMISE OF 1833

Two years after the 1828 address, Webster made what is generally agreed to be the greatest declamation of his career as a public servant--the Reply to Hayne. Three allusions to the tariff question were contained in it but none suggested any significant change in his position. First, he continued to question the action of Congress in justifying its protective measures by the revenue power. Secondly, he defended his 1828 vote as an expression of a desire to establish an equal tariff. At least in theory, Webster did not believe in the unequal protection of the laws. Finally, he thought it essential to explain once more his apparent inconsistency of 1828. Hayne had criticized him for his action and in doing so had lauded his 1824 speech highly. The compliment, Webster said, was made "to raise me high that my fall in 1828 may be more signal. There was no fall. Between the ground I stood on in 1824 and in 1828 there was no precipice, no declivity. It was a change of position to meet new circumstances but on the same level."1

Attention in these pages is confined to the economic, and not to the political or constitutional, aspects of the great issues in which Webster played an active part. The nullification controversy, then, is omitted in order to come at once to the very brief examination of Webster's views on the

____________________
1
Second speech on Senator Foote's resolution, January, 1830, Works of Webster, vol. iii, p. 304.

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