was the proprietor of estates in Louisiana
, and the owner of a large number of slaves.
His candidacy was chiefly of Southern origin.
Almost with the first suggestion of his name for the office he was announced as an independent candidate in various meetings, mostly in the slave States; and he then signified clearly his purpose to remain a candidate irrespectively of the formal action of the Whig party.
It was even doubtful at one time whether his special partisans would submit his name to the convention.
Not only did his nomination have a Southern origin, but the main body of his original supporters in the convention were Southern men, intensely opposed to the Wilmot Proviso
His Southern partisans, both before and after the convention, contended in their journals that more than any other person named for the place he would be loyal to Southern interests and to the institution of slavery, and that he would put his foot on Congressional action against slavery in the territories.
His selection, as all admitted, was due to the popular favor he had won by victories obtained in a war growing out of the annexation of Texas
and a plot for the extension of slavery.2
With the associations and interests of a slaveholder, with a candidacy thus promoted and a popularity thus obtained, whatever might be his attractive personal qualities, he necessarily repelled the support of antislavery men who were pledged by their convictions and declarations to accept no candidate whose position on the extension of slavery was either hostile or ambiguous.
's candidacy found quite early some support at the North
,—chiefly with active politicians intent upon success and comparatively indifferent to any principles involved, and with manufacturers personally interested in restoring the protective system as existing under the tariff of 1842, which had been repealed in 1846.
These classes had no real interest in the slavery question, or treated it as only on a level with, or even subordinate to, material questions.
the support which Webster
received as a candidate at this time from many of the Whig
leaders was only nominal; and they