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[201] the nation, surely this defender of the Constitution and the Union should have seen the danger ahead and forewarned his countrymen. And not only this, but so far did he go in the Southern direction,—forgetting all he had said in behalf of a Union and government one and indivisible,—that in his speech at Capon Springs, Va., he dallied with the doctrine of secession, and discharged the South from ‘the compact’ if the North deliberately disregarded the obligation to surrender fugitive slaves, using language not unlike that of the secession orators of 1860 and 1861.1 On the death of President Taylor, he did not conceal from his friends his satisfaction that the government had passed into safer hands, into those of President Fillmore, who would give to the Compromise policy that thorough support which his predecessor had not given.2 His personal feelings carried him so far, that, as Secretary of State under Fillmore, he withdrew the patronage of his department—the publication of the laws of Congress—from Whig journals opposed to the Compromise measures, and transferred it to others (sometimes religious weeklies) which supported them.3

The motives of Mr. Webster, whether those of personal ambition of patriotism, or however these may have been combined, need not be considered in a statement which is intended, so far as it concerns him, only to illustrate the state of affairs in Massachusetts at this time.4 He was called to the Cabinet of President Fillmore in July, and continued till his death, in 1852, to use his personal influence and official power in the direction of his ‘Seventh of March’ speech. That speech carried the Compromise measures, but it made also a political revolution in Massachusetts. If Webster had spoken as he had hitherto always spoken, if he had spoken as Seward and Chase spoke later in the same month, he would have remained in the Senate; or

1 Curtis's ‘Life of Webster,’ vol. II. pp. 517-520. Everett omitted this speech from his edition of Webster's Works.

2 Private Correspondence, vol. II. pp. 376, 377, 386, 387, 395. ‘And if he [General Taylor] had lived, it might have been doubtful whether any general settlement would have been made.’ He wrote, two days after Taylor's death, ‘There is no doubt that recent events have increased the probability of the passage of that measure’ [the Compromise]. Curtis's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 464, note.

3 Boston Courier, April 5, 1851. Atlas, April 4.

4 Contemporary writers suggest that a disposition to obstruct President Taylor had something to do with the course of Clay as well as of Webster. (J. S. Pike, in ‘Courier,’ April 10, 1850.) The judgment of history is not likely to relieve Webster of the imputation that a desire to become President was a leading cause of his change of course. Von Hoist, vol. IV. p. 140.

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