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This is a joint biography of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, the most prominent of the second generation of American statesmen, from 1812 until 1850. It is at the same time a history of the America of the period: its political style and character, political ambition and reputation, success and failure, and ideas and interests. The three statesmen make a startling contrast - Webster, the staunch New England defender of the Union, Clay, first a 'war hawk' and later a populist politician, and Calhoun, the foremost advocate of Southern separatism and slavery. Their political lives were intertwined during much of this period.
Merrill D. Peterson is Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. A winner of the Bancroft Prize and a former Guggenheim Fellow, he is the author of numerous books, including The Jefferson Image in the American Mind and Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography.