During this important and absorbing negotiation, other matters of less moment, but still of considerable consequence, had been met by Mr. Webster, and successfully disposed of. He made a treaty with Portugal, respecting duties on wines; he carried on a long correspondence with our minister to Mexico in relation to certain American prisoners; he vindicated the course of the United States in regard to the independence of Texas, teaching M. de Bocanegra, the Mexican Secretary of State, a lesson as to the duties of neutrality, and administering a severe reproof to that gentleman for imputing bad faith to the United States; he conducted the correspondence, and directed the policy of the government in regard to the troubles in Rhode Island; he made an effort to settle the Oregon boundary; and, finally, he set on foot the Chinese mission, which, after being offered to Mr. Everett, was accepted by Mr. Cushing with the best results. But his real work came to an end with the correspondence with General Cass at the close of 1842, and in May of the following year he resigned the secretaryship. In the two years during which he had been at the head of the cabinet, he had done much. His work added to his fame by the ability which it exhibited in a new field, and has stood the test of time. In a period of difficulty, and even danger, he proved himself singularly well adapted for the conduct of foreign affairs,—a department which is most peculiarly and traditionally the employment and test of a highly-trained statesman. It may be fairly said that no one, with the exception of John Quincy Adams, has ever shown higher qualities, or attained greater success in the administration of the State Department, than Mr. Webster did while in Mr. Tyler’s cabinet.
On his resignation, he returned at once to private life, and passed the next summer on his farm at Marshfield,—now grown into a large estate,—which was a source of constant interest and delight, and where he was able to have beneath his eyes his beloved sea. His private affairs were in disorder, and required his immediate attention. He threw himself into his profession, and his practice at once became active, lucrative, and absorbing. To this period of retirement belong the second Bunker Hill oration and the Girard argument, which made so much noise in its day. He kept himself aloof from politics, but could not wholly withdraw from them. The feeling against him, on account of his continuance in the cabinet, had subsided, and there was a feeble and somewhat fitful movement to drop Clay, and present Mr. Webster as a candidate for the presidency. Mr. Webster, however, made a speech at Andover, defending his course and advocating Whig principles, and declared that he was not a candidate for office. He also refused to allow New Hampshire to mar party harmony by bringing his name forward. When Mr. Clay was nominated, in May, 1844, Mr. Webster, who had beheld with anxiety the rise of the Liberty party and prophesied the annexation