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Talk:Daniel Webster

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 Definition (1782-1852) Leading American politician of the antebellum Whig Party, famous for his oratory, his legal and diplomatic skills, and his efforts to prevent the Civil War in the name of American nationalism. [d] [e]

Conservatives and Liberals??

Aren't these post-Civil War labels? I find it anachronistic to call Webster a "conservative"; Webster was dead before J. S. Mill defined Liberalism. Webster was a Whig. Leave it at that. And it gets really confusing to oppose Webster to the Democratic Party which in the Antebellum period was the conservative party. And being "a spokesman for modernization and the industrial interests" in the 1830s makes him a raving radical!! This first paragraph needs some work. If Webster was a conservative he'd be old republican and agrarian. Russell D. Jones 02:28, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

A very small hat thrown into the ring

I am moving the previous last sentence of the lead paragraph here, " He aspired to the White House but was an elitist, not a "man of the people," and the people knew it." This is a nice ringing expression, as are many things from the presumed author. Nevertheless, it is a judgment, it makes some assumptions about what "the people" knew, and I don't think should be present without sourcing.

Objective expert commentary is one thing; editorializing is another. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:48, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Here, here! --Jones

Yet another hat: "second party system"

I've been wondering about this about since I joined this site, but I figured I'd ask now since it appears in the lead sentence of this article: Is there any reason the "party systems" scheme is used so prominently in American party politics discussions here? I can see where it's sometimes useful for periodizing American political development, but other times it seems kind of forced. Shamira Gelbman 03:00, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

A party system became a useful tool to periodize and analyze changes in US political history. It started gaining popularity, I think, beginning in the 1950s. A party system, historically, is defined as two political parties dominating national elections. All historians with whom I've spoken are in agreement that there have been three party systems is US history (Federalist/Republican; Democratic/Whig; Democratic/Republican). However, political scientists define a party system differently and tend to see a political realignment as the formation of a new party system. Thus political scientists have seen six or seven "party systems" in US history (many are positing that the recent election indicates the arrival of the seventh "party system"). I do not think a political realignment is the advent of an new party system as a realignment lacks the essential ingredient for a new party system, which is a new party. I've been harboring ambitions of re-writing a lot of articles that discuss a fourth, fifth, or sixth "party system." Such philosophizing should be left to the political science workgroup. Russell D. Jones 15:43, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
My understanding (coming from political science, FWIW) is that the "party systems" scheme is less about which dyad dominated party competition during a given era in US history than its prevailing party organizational structures and practices. In other words, the "first party system" is distinguished less for its being dominated by Federalist vs. D-R competition than that those parties were primarily elite organizations that did things like have their congressional caucuses select presidential nominees. I find it pretty useful for thinking/teaching about how the US party system as a whole and election practices have changed over time, but it seems to me to be a bit overused here, sometimes to the point of being distracting or even counterproductive. I'd say that's especially true for articles referencing the "fourth party system" and beyond, but even in an entry like this one on Daniel Webster, the reference to the "second party system" in the lead sentence seems gratuitous, especially since its significance is never elaborated in the body of the article. Shamira Gelbman 18:23, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, see? Reads just as well, or better, without the phrase. And, yes, that's my point that Historians and Political Scientists have different ways of thinking about this interpretative framework. Russell D. Jones 21:14, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Second Party System

As a guy who took *many* courses in American history at Exeter, Stanford, and Harvard, and who could actually have gotten his degree in History rather than English, I have to admit my ignorance and say that I have never, until now, heard of the Second Party System. This is typical of the sort of stuff that Prof. Jensen used to put into his articles, and is probably the reason he is no longer with us -- Larry and others (including me) would argue that just because professional historians, in their own specialized journals, did things *one* way (ie, "Gettysburg, Campaign of" rather than "Battle of Gettysburg"), that was not necessarily the way things should be done at CZ. Prof. Jensen was, shall I say, rather intractable about some of these things and finally chose to leave rather than continue to try to have his own way. I myself am not gonna jump into this morass by deleting this reference myself, but I *urge* someone else to! This is elitist, "inside baseball" writing, and it has no place in a general encyclopedia except *way* further down in the article, as an aside or footnote. Hayford Peirce 15:57, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

I had seen brief references to it before, but I have to agree with Shamira about it being overused. Hayford, you and I have had disagreements about specialized terminology (dare I say term of art), but I do not disagree that when specialists believe a specialized usage really is not merely convention, but an important disambiguation, that CZ articles should at least link to an explanation of it. Without going too far afield, it may be a challenge to decide where such links should reside.
It would help me to have an explanation of why the Nth Party System is particularly useful, rather than a journal convention, in explaining such matters. It may very well be useful and be something we can all learn. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:12, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree -- but I think the lede paragraph should say that D. Webster was a member of the Devil's Party or the Know Everythings or Whitsuntide Whigs or whatever it was that we learned in school once, NOT a member of the Second Party System, which, to me, is Jargon, or Cant, or whatever you want to call it. Maybe about six sections down there could be a lengthy paragraph beginning, "Late 20th-century experts in American history began a convention of dividing Am. political history into blah blah blah." Sure. But NOT before! Hayford Peirce 20:39, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. Clearly, the Devil's Party was the Opposition. Dictionary Party? Howard C. Berkowitz 20:47, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I just got rid of it. It shouldn't be too hard to put back in if we need to. Shamira Gelbman 20:51, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
HEY! Now I feel defensive! <grin> I do teach the party systems in my US history because it is a useful handle for getting at why political parties come and go. My complaint here has been that when you look at the so-called fourth, fifth, and sixth "party systems" it's difficult to distinguish them from the third party system. Same parties, often the same political philosophies, often the same geographical affiliations, often the same voting blocs, often the same domestic/foreign policies. So what's changed? Oh! yeah, Indiana is now voting democratic instead of republican. okay, Seventh Party System!! To get back to the article, it reads just as well without the reference to the Party System as it does with it. Like I said I don't object to Party Systems 1-3, just 4-7. The party system concept was imported into the history discipline mainly by Walter Dean Burnham, and RJ had written about this interpretive framework extensively, which is why there's so much of it here and in the OP. Russell D. Jones 21:35, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Richard Jensen, "The Changing Shape of Burnham's Political Universe," Social Science History 10, No. 3, Walter Dean Burnham and the Dynamics of American Politics (Autumn, 1986): 209-219.


Do we need that long blockquote? Russell D. Jones 23:52, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

If indeed "Webster's "Reply to Hayne" in 1830 was generally regarded as "the most eloquent speech ever delivered in Congress," and was a stock exercise for oratory students for 75 years", then why not an excerpt from *it* instead of the above-cited stem-winder? Hayford Peirce 00:05, 16 March 2009 (UTC)