"Justice, Sir, Is The Great Interest Of Man On Earth"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Secretary of State (1841-1843; 1850-1852) and United States Senator (1827-1841; 1845-1850), Daniel Webster protected the vested interests of New England and took a middle-of-the-road stand on slavery, since he feared that a fight over slavery might destroy the Union. The abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier attacked his slavery stand in a poem, "Ichabod"; Webster also appears in literature as a fantastic arbitrator in Stephen Vincent Benét's story, "The Devil and Daniel Webster." The eloquence of Webster's oratory is obvious in his remarks at a meeting of the Suffolk Bar on September 12, 1845, the day of the funeral of Mr. Justice Story, who had died unexpectedly. The senator praises the work and character of Joseph Story, one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, asserting that his fame will live "by his imperishable legal judgments, and by those juridical disquisitions which have stamped his name, all over the civilized world, with the character of a commanding authority." The dedication of one's life to the pursuit of justice is a commitment to civilization's highest ideals, says Webster, and he continues:

Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together. Wherever her temple stands, and so long as it is duly honored, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress of our race.