THE LAST YEARS.
The story of the remainder of Mr. Webster’s public life, outside of and apart from the slavery question, can be quickly told. General Taylor died suddenly on July 9, 1850, and this event led to an immediate and complete reorganization of the cabinet. Mr. Fillmore at once offered the post of Secretary of State to Mr. Webster, who accepted it, resigned his seat in the Senate, and, on July 23, assumed his new position. No great negotiation like that with Lord Ashburton marked this second term of office in the Department of State, but there were a number of important and some very complicated affairs, which Mr. Webster managed with the wisdom, tact, and dignity which made him so admirably fit for this high position.
The best-known incident of this period was that which gave rise to the famous “Huelsemann letter.” President Taylor had sent an agent to Hungary to report upon the condition of the revolutionary government, with the intention of recognizing it if there were sufficient grounds for doing so. When the agent arrived, the revolution was crushed, and he reported to the President against recognition. These papers were transmitted to the Senate in March, 1850. Mr. Huelsemann, the Austrian charge, thereupon complained of the action of our administration, and Mr. Clayton, then Secretary of State, replied that the mission of the agent had been simply to gather information. On receiving further instructions from his government, Mr. Huelsemann rejoined to Mr. Clayton, and it fell to Mr. Webster to reply, which