Webster Clay Calhoun Comparison Essay

Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster dominated national politics from the end of the War of 1812 until their deaths in the early 1850s. Although none were ever President, they had a huge impact in Congress. Their impact outweighed the impact of any of the presidents of that era, with the exception of Andrew Jackson. There was one issue effecting the nation throughout their time in power — slavery. They were all successful in keeping peace in America by forging a series of compromises. The next generation’s leaders were not so successful.
The Gold Rush led to the rapid settlement of California which resulted in it quickly becoming the 31st state. Southerners recognized that California would be the 16th free state, giving the non-slave holding states the Senate, and they were already holding the House of Representatives. At this time, Texas was claiming land in New Mexico. As a slave state, any expansion of the boundaries of Texas would be expanding slavery. Northerners were opposed. The north was also appalled at the ongoing practice of slavery in the nation’s capital. The lines were drawn as Clay, Calhoun and Webster took the stage. Henry Clay had brokered compromises before.
When the Congress was divided in 1820 over the issue of slavery in the Louisiana Territory, Clay set forth the Missouri Compromise. When South Carolina nullified the tariff in 1832, Clay saved the day with the Compromise Tariff of 1833. With the new dispute in the nation he put forth a set of eight proposals that he hoped would work. John C. Calhoun took to the floor next. Although he was sick and dying he sat in the Senate chamber as his speech was read. The compromises would betray the south, he claimed. Northerners would have to agree to federal protection of slavery for the south to feel comfortable remaining in the Union.

His words foreshadowed the trials the Union that would soon experience.. Daniel Webster spoke three days after Calhoun’s speech. He asked northerners to accept southern demands for the sake of Union. Withdrawing his former support for the Wilmont Proviso, he hoped to persuade people to move closer to Clay’s proposals. Although there was no immediate deal, his words impacted Congressmen as they debated into the summer. By 1852, Clay, Calhoun, and Webster had all died. They left behind a huge impact on the nation. They united their country in a way no learned to follow behind them could.

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