As we start the 2020 election….I thought a historical look into the past might amuse my readers….
When taking history in school we are all taught about those men that were elected as president of the United States……but who were the “also ran”…..or should I say “close but no cigar”?
An interesting question as we wind down to the presidential election for 2020…..and I can throw a little history in there as well…..(life is good)…..
We begin the lesson with Daniel Webster…..
1. Daniel Webster
Webster is a terribly important figure in American history. Secretary of State twice, Webster has been called one of the greatest Senators. He never achieved his ultimate ambition, the presidency, but ironically he turned down two opportunities which would have granted his wish.
In 1840, Webster was offered the vice presidential spot on the Whig ticket, but declined. He had sought the nomination himself, but lost it to William Henry Harrison, who offered him the Secretary of State position. Harrison is famous for having died thirty days after his inauguration, catapulting “His Accidency”, Vice President John Tyler, to the White House. Had Webster accepted Harrison’s offer, he would have been the 10th president, not Tyler.
Webster continued as Secretary of State, negotiating a final and lasting treaty with Britain, but eventually left the Cabinet and returned to the Senate. He sought the Whig nomination for President again in 1848 but was again defeated by a military hero, Zachary Taylor. Taylor, like Harrison before him, offered Webster the Vice Presidency. Webster clearly didn’t think his response through, and had not learned from the past. He turned Taylor down, saying “I do not propose to be buried until I am really dead and in my coffin.” Webster missed out on the presidency again, when Taylor died in 1850 of what was probably gastroenteritis. Instead, Millard Fillmore ascended to office, though he did appoint Webster as Secretary of State again.
The presidency was always Webster’s goal, and he might have achieved it had he been a little less stubborn and ornery. As for what he might have done in office, we can take some inspiration from his achievements in the rest of his public life. Webster was a prominent conservative and determined to preserve the Union as tensions over slavery began to boil. He supported the Compromise of 1850 which did just that, at least for a while. He also advocated, and may have worked towards, stronger relations with Japan. Webster is famed now as a character in a story and play, The Devil and Daniel Webster in which he defends a farmer who sells his soul to the devil, a testament to his famous oratory. If he had been president, his oratory might not have been enough to help him avoid the pitfalls of the office at a very turbulent time.
I Read, I Wrote, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”