Webster-Hayne Debate (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: A crystallization of the difference between the slave and free states in the context of westward expansion.
Summary of Event
In December, 1829, Connecticut senator Samuel A. Foot presented a resolution to the United States Senate suggesting the temporary restriction of the sale of public land. Only those lands already surveyed and placed for auction were to be sold. This seemingly inoffensive resolution precipitated America’s most famous debate.
A liberal land policy was vital for the continued growth of the West. Thomas Hart Benton, representing the West as a senator from Missouri, jumped to his feet to attack the resolution as a barefaced attempt to keep the emigrant laborer out of the West and to force him to remain in the East as an industrial wage-slave. The endeavor to check the development and prosperity of the West was nothing new, suggested Benton; rather, it was another sign of the hatred of the East toward the West that had so often plagued the forum of national politics. The Missourian ended by saying that the hope of the West lay “in that solid phalanx of the South,” which in earlier times had saved that section when in danger.
The Southern political leadership was anxious to make an alliance with the West to secure its support for the slavery issue. The South also was interested in alliance with the West because Southern politicians saw the growing population...
(The entire section is 1509 words.)
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