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Webster-Hayne Debate

Senator Samuel Augustus Foot of Connecticut proposed in late 1829, that the committee on public lands study the possibility of limiting the sale of western lands (the Foot Resolution). This seemingly innocuous suggestion laid bare some basic regional tensions. Foot represented the New England view that cheap land encouraged westward migration, which robbed the factories of a captive labor supply. The Democrats in the West opposed the resolution since they favored cheap land in their region. The states’ rights forces in the South took advantage of this situation and tried to forge an alliance with the West, hoping that this would lead to reworking such issues as the Tariff. Debate on this matter continued over a number of weeks and changed from a discussion of land policy into a debate about the nature of the Union. Other characters entered the argument, most notably Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Robert Young Hayne of South Carolina. What followed, the Webster Hayne debate, was one of the most famous exchanges in Senate history. On January 19, 1830, Hayne attacked the Foot Resolution and labeled the Northeasterners as selfish and unprincipled for their support of protectionism and conservative land policies. The next day, Webster broadened the debate by examining the Southern positions on states’ rights in general their lack of appreciation for the union. Hayne again spoke, this time asserting the doctrine of state sovereignty and nullification. Webster replied again on January 26 and 27. He eloquently denounced the idea of state sovereignty and endorsed the idea of national supremacy. Webster concluded his second reply with the words, "Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!"