Thursday 16 October 2014

Daniel Webster and National Unity

 The great American statesman and lawyer Daniel Webster ( 1782-1852 ),  is one of my heroes. Apart from being a great lawyer, he was a member of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress for 10 years, a Senator for 19 years, and Secretary of State under three Presidents. He could not become the U.S. President, although much less deserving persons became President, mainly because he refused to make any compromise on the question of unity of America.

From the 1830s onwards upto the Civil War ( 1861-1865) many of the Congressmen of the southern states of U.S.A. ( the slave holding states ) propounded the theory of nullification, which in effect meant that any state in U.S.A. could secede from the Union. This doctrine of nullification was first proclaimed by Senator John Calhoun, who later became the U.S. Vice President.

In Janury 1830 the Senator from South Carolina ( which in 1861 became the first state in the Union to secede ) Robert Hayne gave a strong speech in the Senate in favour of the right of a state to secede.   Hayne,following Calhoun's doctrine of nullification, said that liberty comes first, and union comes only thereafter.

Daniel Webster joined issue with Hayne in what became known as the Webster-Hayne debates.

On 27.1.1830 Daniel Webster delivered his famous 'Second Reply to Robert Hayne " in the Senate, which is regarded as the most eloquent speech ever delivered in the U.S. Congress.

Absolutely refusing to compromise on the question of preserving the union of the nation at any cost, Webster ended his speech with words which have immortalized him :
" When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see it shining on the broken and dishonoured fragments of a glorious nation, on states dissevered, discordant, and belligerent, on a land rent with civil feuds or drenched in fraternal blood. Let my last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the glorious ensign of the republic, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as " What is all this worth ?", nor those other words of delusion and folly " Liberty first, and Union afterwards ", but everywhere spread all over in characters  of living light, blazing in all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart---Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable ".

Again on 17.7,1850 in his address to the U.S. Senate, Daniel Webster said " I shall stand by the Union, with absolute disregard of personal consequences. What are personal consequences in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great nation in a crisis like this ? Let the consequences be what they will."

Daniel Webster's stand is the stand which all patriotic Indians must take, if our country is to survive and progress. Let the separatists know that we will fight for the unity of our country, with our blood if necessary.

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