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Daniel Webster map_it

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Sculptor Thomas Ball (1819–1911) created this larger-than-life bronze piece depicting Daniel Webster (1782–1852), the 19th century statesman known for his eloquence and excellent oratory. During the mid-19th century Ball sculpted a bust of Webster shortly before the Massachusetts senator died. His piece was such a success that he made a statuette of the figure that went on to be patented and repeatedly replicated, one of the first mass-produced pieces in the United States. In the 1870s Gordon W. Burnham requested that Ball make a larger-than-life-size version of the statue for Central Park. The immensity of the statue prevented it from being placed on the Mall as its donor intended, and it was subsequently installed along the West Drive at 72nd Street where it was dedicated in 1876.

Daniel Webster was born in New Hampshire in 1782. A graduate of Dartmouth, Webster studied law. He became involved in politics, serving as a U.S. Congressman from 1813 to 1817. After moving to Boston in 1816, Webster returned to the House of Representatives in 1823, developing his reputation as one of the fledgling nation’s finest orators. Webster moved to the Senate in 1827, serving until 1841 when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of State under President John Tyler (1790–1862).

Webster served again in the Senate from 1845 to 1850, and is noted for making a speech on March 7, 1850 in favor of affording newly acquired territories in the west the right to decide whether or not to embrace slavery; his support of the so-called Compromise of 1850 alienated his New England abolitionist constituency. Although the reference to liberty in the inscription perhaps seems contradictory -- “Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable” -- the quote represents Webster’s keen desire to keep the nation intact during a period of intense conflict. Webster served once more as Secretary of State under President Millard Fillmore (1800–1874) before dying in 1852.

The sculpture was cast at the von Miller Foundry in Munich, Germany. Ferdinand von Miller II (1842–1929) also sculpted the statue of Dr. James Marion Sims (1813–1883) located near Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street. This monument was conserved in 1983, one of the first conservation efforts in Central Park’s comprehensive program to restore its collection of statuary.

Daniel Webster Details

  • Sculptor: Thomas Ball
  • Description: Standing figure with intergral plinth, on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze, Quincy granite
  • Dimensions: Figure H:14'; Pedestal H: 20'; Figure weighs 6 tons; Pedestal weighs 125 tons
  • Cast: circa 1876
  • Dedicated: November 25, 1876
  • Foundry: Von Miller's Foundry, Munich, Germany
  • Donor: Gordon W. Burnham
  • Inscription: LIBERTY AND UNION, / NOW AND FOREVER, / ONE AND INSEPARABLE. / DANIEL WEBSTER /

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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