"The reaper is to the North," he said, "what slavery is to the South.  By taking the places of regiments of young men in the Western harvest fields, it releases them to do battle for the Union at the front, and at the same time keeps up the supply of bread for the nation and the nation's armies.  Thus without McCormick 's invention I fear the North could not win, and the Union would be dismembered."

His invention of the first successful mechanical reaper allowed grain production to increase 2,900%, allowing the transition of farm labor to factory labor, and fueling the American industrial revolution.

"Death is not the greatest calamity: there are others still more terrible to the free and brave, and among them may be placed the loss of liberty and honor.  There are thousands of her brave sons who, if need be, are prepared cheerfully to lay down their lives in defense of the State, and the great principles of constitutional liberty for which she is contending."

The separate doctrines of States Rights and slavery coalesced under the genius of one man, to the great detriment of the nation.

"On one occasion allusion was made to a South Carolina hot-head, who had publicly proposed to raise the flag of disunion.  When Clay retorted by saying, that, if Mr. Rhett had really meant that proposition, and should follow it up by corresponding acts, he would be a traitor, and added, "and I hope he will meet a traitor's fate," thunders of applause broke from the crowded galleries."

Known as "the Great Pacificator," Henry Clay spent his political life as a champion of Union, but one who would go to great lengths to avoid a civil war.

"Liberty first, and Union afterwards; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, — LIBERTY and UNION, NOW AND FOREVER, ONE AND INSEPARABLE!"

Webster was the outstanding spokesman for American nationalism with powerful oratory that made him a key Whig leader. He spoke for conservatives, and led the opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party.

Go to top