This era begins in 1832 when Captain John Thomas, son of Nathanial Ray Thomas,
sold the estate to Daniel Webster, lawyer, orator and the Honorable Senator from
Massachusetts. Webster farmed this property for twenty years. He built a small
structure a short distance from the house and used it as a law office and horticultural
library. There he met with dignitaries who came to visit him. Websters home
was renowned and was described on the floor of the Senate and became part of the
Congressional Record. One of his visitors was John James Audubon who painted many
of his wildlife pictures in Marshfield. Ironically, part of the Webster Estate
is now the property of the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
1840, Webster was named Secretary of State by President William Henry Harrison
and it was in that capacity that he entertained Lord Alexander Ashburton at Marshfield
and here they laid the groundwork for the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which in 1842
set the boundary between Maine and Canada. As Secretary of State in 1852 Webster
met with the British Minister Lord Compton, in Marshfield, to settle the dispute
between the New England Fisheries and England; an action he spoke of at Cherry
Hill when he delivered his last public speech.
Webster was the Farmer of Marshfield and here he bred cattle, improved
the soil and planted many species of trees from all over the world. Many of his
trees still stand. The Great Linden Tree under which he was laid in state at the
time of his death has been entered into the Book of Champion Trees as the Nations
largest English Linden. It was Webster who introduced to the local farmers the
use of fish and kelp as fertilizer and it was his agricultural causes that inspired
the townspeople to organize what would become the Marshfield Fair.
Webster died in 1852 he was Secretary of State, the only man to serve in that
office under three presidents: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard
Fillmore. He was known as the Defender of the Constitution, having
tried successfully before the Supreme Court over 150 cases. Many of those cases
set precedents that affect our lives to this very day, for example:
The Dartmouth College Case insured forever the independence of allprivate
and charitable institutions.
McCullough vs. Maryland defined the limits of State and National power.
Gibbon vs. Ogden set the precedents for the establishment of interstate and intrastate
commerce which would effect not only the waterways of that era, but
later the highways, railroads and airways in our lifetime.
latter two cases firmly established the Supreme Court as the final interpreter
of the Constitution. Websters stirring speeches in the Senate in 1830 and
1850 without a doubt postponed the Civil War each time, thus giving the North
thirty years to build its industrial strength while the South remained agrarian.
This devotion of Websters to the concept of Liberty AND Union, now
and forever, one and inseparable! clearly changed the course of American
History and the lives of everyone of us, even to this day.
to Marshfield and its fishing industry, and all the New England Fisheries, Webster
obtained, as Secretary of State, perpetual fishing rights off the Canada shores
by fighting in 1852 for the continuance of an 1818 treaty which the British were
threatening to dissolve. The rights of fishing the Grand Banks were secured for
American fishermen by Daniel Webster. Remember that the next time you eat fish.
original house burned in 1878 and was rebuilt by Websters daughter-in-law.
On the front facade is the Webster coat of arms. It was to this house that President
Chester A. Arthur came to honor Webster in 1882, the centennial of his birth.
Many dignitaries have visited this place including Calvin Coolidge, governors,
senators, and just plain folks who know Webster for the great patriot that he
fact that the original house is gone makes no difference to the fact that this
place, this land has played a significant role in the history of Marshfield and
the Nation. Webster chose the Winslow Cemetery for his last resting place. The
Town of Marshfield considered this Thomas-Webster Place important enough to be
the focal point of the Town Seal.
is wise for us to recur to the history of our ancestors. Those who do not look
upon themselves as a link connecting the Past with the Future, do not perform
their duty to the world.