The Great Triumvirate : American History

Decent Essays
The Great Triumvirate


Jessica L. Caswell

American History to 1877


Dr. Brett F. Woods

March 16, 2015 Everyone thinks that Abraham Lincoln was America’s most fervent supporter of preserving the Union, but while Lincoln was still a boy, there were three politicians leading the charge to keep the Union from fracturing. These three political giants were celebrities in their time and their names are: Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun. Their differences ran the gamut and they more often worked against each other than with each other, but each of the men was deeply patriotic and ambitious. They all at one point in their careers served in the Senate and as the Secretary of State. Each of them
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His debates became the stuff of legends and for days afterward, newspapers would scramble to print as much of the debate as they could. Webster, an ardent supporter of the Constitution and national unity said, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” The third man in the Great Triumvirate was a South Carolinian Senator named John C. Calhoun. Of the three, he gained the highest political title as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Calhoun’s loyalty to the Union was second only to his loyalty to South Carolina. In the beginning of his political career, he fought for the Union to stay together, but when it became a choice between his home state or the Union, he chose South Carolina. Calhoun did not desire secession, though. In his mind, disunion would equal failure. In 1812, war was on the horizon. The “warhawks” led by Henry Clay and John Calhoun were pushing Madison to a war with Britain. “What are we not to lose by peace,” Clay said in response to the anti-war critics. “Commerce, character, a nation’s best treasure, honor!” America went to war in spite of the New England states threatening secession. Eleven months after the start of the war, Webster was elected to Congress and while he was decidedly against the war; once it
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