Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Senator Daniel Webster
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
“Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable,” Senator Daniel Webster, January 1830.
Senator Daniel Webster, eloquent advocate for the preservation of the Union and a political giant in pre-Civil War America, lived and worked here. His home and office buildings, now demolished, were similar to the two surviving pre-Civil War buildings alongside this sign. Wester's buildings began where the ally is today, stretching to the west. In the mid-19th century this was a fashionable neighborhood of fine homes and magnificent churches within easy walking distance to the Capitol and near Washington’s City Hall/Courthouse.
Webster's unmatched speaking ability helped bring about the Compromise of 1850. The compromise helped delay the Civil War for about ten years and ended the notorious slave trade in District of Columbia. But at the same time strengthened the fugitive slave law that compelled citizens to help capture and return individuals fleeing slavery.
In 1850, at 69 years of age and near the end of his life, Webster made his last great speech on the floor of the Senate in defense of the Union. He filed the galleries with spectators, many of whom were Washingtonians who regularly attended the entertaining and educational congressional debates. Webster likely developed his arguments
Among the dignitaries who lived nearby were Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, John C. Calhoun, vice president under President John Quincy Adams; and Salmon P. Chase, President Lincoln’s secretary of the Treasury. President Lincoln attended the wedding of Kate Chase in the family home at Sixth and D Streets, now demolished. Lincoln attended the wedding of Chase's daughter Kate at the family home at Sixth and E Streets, now demolished.
In Webster's day, the First Unitarian Church of Washington stood at the corner of Sixth and D. The Unitarians were among the city's loudest anti-slavery voices. When they tolled the church bell endlessly the day abolitionist John Brown was executed in 1859, the city ordered the bell silenced for good. The former Recorder of Deeds building now occupies the church site.
The Civil War (1861 - 1865) transformed Washington, DC from a muddy backwater to a center of national power. Ever since, the city has been at the heart of the continuing struggle to realize fully the ideas for which the war was fought. The 25 signs that mark this trail follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglas, and others, famous and humble, who shaped a nation and its capital city while living and working in historic downtown DC.
Civil War to Civil Rights
A free booklet capturing the trail's highlights is available at local businesses and institutions along the way. To download the free Civil War to Civil Rights Audio Tour, and learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CuturalTourismDC.org.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.3.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 53.691′ N, 77° 1.15′ W. Marker is in Judiciary Square, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on D Street, NW, west of 5th Street, NW, on the right. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 503 D Street, NW, Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Daniel Webster (here, next to this marker); DC Recorder of Deeds Building/WPA Era Murals (a few steps from this marker); Ending Slavery in Washington (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sitting in Judgment A Courthouse Reborn (about 600 feet away); Washington City Spring (about 700 feet away); Pennsylvania Avenue (about 800 feet away); 601 Pennsylvania Avenue (about 800 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Judiciary Square.
Regarding Senator Daniel Webster. This marker was originally numbered "e.1", but was changed when the marker series was modified. Original text from the earlier version of the marker:
Senator Daniel Webster, eloquent advocate for the preservation of the Union and a political giant in pre-Civil War America, lived and worked in buildings that occupied part of the empty space near this sign. They were similar to the two surviving pre-Civil War structures immediately to the right of the space. In the mid-19th century, this was a fashionable neighborhood of fine homes and magnificent churches within easy walking distance to the Capitol and near Washington’s City Hall.
Webster put his unmatched oratorical skills to work in support of the Compromise of 1850–a series of Congressional acts that delayed the fracture of the Union for about ten years. The
In 1850, at 69 years of age and near the end of his life, Webster made his last great speech on the floor of the Senate in defense of the Union. The galleries were crowded with spectators. Spirited debates in Congress were a high point in the city’s political and social life. Since Webster had his office in his home, as was the custom of the day, it is all but certain that he developed his arguments here.
This neighborhood was home to many dignitaries, including Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, General and Mrs. John Fremont, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. President Lincoln attended the wedding of Kate Chase in the family home at Sixth and D Streets, now demolished. Today’s Recorder of Deeds building is located nearby at the corner of Sixth and D Streets. In the 1880s, the distinguished African American, Frederick Douglass held the prestigious position of recorder.
The original marker had a picture of Frederick Douglass, captioned: Abolitionist, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglass served as recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia, an office now located at the corner of Fifth
Categories. • African Americans • Antebellum South, US • Politics •
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