Webster- Hayne Debate

By Amanda Underwood and Amy Reed

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In 1829, Senator Samuel Augustus of Connecticut proposed the view of the New England region to the Committee of public lands that they should look into the possibility of limiting the sale if western lands. With this, sparked a debate. New England believed that cheap land encouraged westward migration, which dissolved the factories of their labor supply. In the west, they opposed this idea, because they wanted cheap land in their region. The South decided to seize this opportunity by forging an alliance with the west, hoping this would lead to actions against the recent tariff. The debate began as just discussion and argument over a land policy, but then quickly transformed into a debate about the nature of the Union. The Webster- Hayne Debate earned its name when Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Robert Young Hayne of South Carolina began attacking their opposing view and counteracting each other. First, Hayne criticized the Foot Resolution, and declared that Northerners were selfish in their conservatism. Then, Webster pointed out the South's lack of appreciation for the Union. Hayne then continued to support state sovereignty and nullification. Finally, Webster boasted the idea of national supremacy over states' rights. The debate continued to become one of the most famous exchanges in the history of the Senate.


The Webster- Hayne debate is known for its exposure of the apparent differences in the Northern and Southern states' philosophies. Each region contained different views of the role that the Union entailed and what the Union meant. The debate highlighted what is called the "defining issue in American politics", the nature of sovereignty. This issue is what eventually led to the Civil War, and the division of North and South leading up to the war.


Significance of the Webster-Hayne Debate." EHow. Demand Media, 04 June 2009. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.ehow.com/about_5070480_significance-websterhayne-debate.html>.

"Webster-Hayne Debate." Webster-Hayne Debate. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h330.html>.