Daniel Webster was born on January 18, 1782 in Salisbury, New Hampshire. His family lived on a small farm that his father had received in honor of his service in the French and Indian War. Despite being poor, Daniel's parents hired private tutors for him and sent him to the Phillips Exeter Academy to study.
Unfortunately, Daniel was terrified of public speaking and that made it very difficult for him to succeed there. When asked to speak in class, he would reportedly refuse to stand up and return to his room in shame. After nine months he was forced to return home when his parents were unable to afford the price of tuition.
From there, Daniel went to Dartmouth College managed to overcome his fear of speaking. He began to enjoy it so much that he joined the United Fraternity Literary Society, where he practiced his art. After graduating in 1801, he was asked to deliver the Independence Day speech for the city of Hanover.
With his schooling completed, he became a legal apprentice under Thomas Thompson. In 1805 he started his own law practice in the city of Boscawen. In 1807, his father took over the Boscawen firm when Webster moved to Portsmouth to open a new law practice. In 1808, he married a woman named Grace Fletcher, with whom he had a son named Charles.
Webster joined the Federalist Party while he was working as a lawyer and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1812. He served two terms in Washington D.C. before moving to Marshfield, Massachusetts to practice law again.
In 1816, Webster fought one of his most famous legal cases on behalf of Dartmouth College. The state of New Hampshire had decided to make the university a public institution, but the university itself wanted to remain private. Webster fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court, delivering an emotional speech that helped turn the favor of the court to his side. In the end, Dartmouth was allowed to remain private and a precedent was set such that states could not seize control of universities at whim.
In 1822, he was reelected to the House of Representatives and in 1827, he was elected to the Senate to represent the state of Massachusetts. When his wife died in 1828, he married a woman named Caroline LeRoy.
When the Federalist Party dissolved, Webster joined the National Republican Party. He became a close ally of Henry Clay, supporting projects such as the building of roads in the western United States. After supporting the high tariff bill of 1828, he faced off against Robert Hayne, who was a senator from South Carolina that staunchly opposed the bill. In 1830, he continued to defend his stance on the subject, delivering a famous speech.
In 1836, Webster campaigned for the presidency, but he was unsuccessful in the venture. In 1841, he was appointed to serve as Secretary of State under President William Henry Harrison. When Harrison died only a month after his inauguration, John Tyler succeeded him and retained the services of Webster. In 1842, he helped to create the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which defined the border between the United States and Canada.
In 1845, he was elected to the United States Senate once again. During his service, he fought the annexation of Texas and the Spanish American War. As the country became more and more split on controversial topics such as slavery, he fought Southern secession with the Compromise of 1850. That same year he was chosen to serve as Secretary of State under President Millard Fillmore, where he famously enforced the Fugitive Slave Act.
Daniel Webster died on October 24, 1852 after he fell from his horse and suffered a hemorrhage in his brain.