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Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster
Artist
Francis Alexander, 3 Feb 1800 - 27 Mar 1880
Sitter
Daniel Webster, 18 Jan 1782 - 24 Oct 1852
Date
1835
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 76.2 x 63.5 x 3.8cm (30 x 25 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 95.3 x 82.6 x 7.6cm (37 1/2 x 32 1/2 x 3")
Topic
Daniel Webster: Male
Daniel Webster: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Congressman\Massachusetts
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\Cabinet member\Secretary of State
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Senator\Massachusetts
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Congressman\New Hampshire
Daniel Webster: Education and Scholarship\Orator
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; bequest of Mrs. John Hay Whitney
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.98.71
Exhibition Label
Born in Salisbury, New Hampshire
Daniel Webster was unmatched in his extraordinary public speaking skills, which he turned to good effect while representing Massachusetts as a congressman and U.S. senator. An ardent champion of national unity, Webster concluded a debate over states’ rights in 1830 with the ringing words, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” This dramatic portrait, painted five years after that speech, captures the passionate style of Webster’s oratory.
Toward the end of his life, Webster grew increasingly worried that divisions over slavery would rip the nation apart. Convinced of the institution’s immorality, he quietly purchased the freedom of several individuals, including former First Lady Dolley Madison’s enslaved servant Paul Jennings. But in public life, Webster’s determination to prevent Southern states from seceding from the Union prompted him to defend the property rights of slaveholders, culminating in his support for the controversial Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
Nacido en Salisbury, Nuevo Hampshire
Daniel Webster, orador sin rival, hizo buen uso de ese talento como representante y senador por Massachusetts en el Congreso de EE.UU. Defensor ardiente de la unidad nacional, Webster concluyó un debate sobre los derechos de los estados en 1830 con estas palabras resonantes: “Libertad y Unión, ahora y siempre, una e inseparable”. Este dramático retrato, pintado cinco años después de aquel discurso, capta el estilo apasionado de Webster.
Hacia el fin de su vida, Webster tuvo la creciente preocupación de que las divisiones por la polémica de la esclavitud destruirían la nación. Convencido de que la esclavitud era inmoral, compró discretamente la libertad de varias personas, entre ellas Paul Jennings, esclavo de la ex primera dama Dolley Madison. Pero en su vida pública, el empeño de evitar que los estados sureños se separaran de la Unión lo llevó a defender los derechos de propiedad de los dueños de esclavos y terminó por apoyar la polémica Ley de Esclavos Fugitivos de 1850.
Provenance
The sitter; his wife, Caroline LeRoy Webster; Mary Tynan, a servant in the Webster's household, by 1888; (a “curiosity and junk shop,” New York); purchased by George S. Hellman by 1902; offered at auction by Hellman at The Anderson Galleries, New York on November 21, 1919; Hackett Galleries, New York, by 1930; sold around 1930 to John Hay Whitney; Betsey Cushing Whitney, his wife; Bequest of Betsey Cushing Whitney 1998
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition
2022 Rehang of Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 110a