Daniel Webster served for nearly 40 years as a Representative, then Senator, and lastly as Secretary of State. His well-documented orations on the Constitution taught Americans their history in an era before textbooks.
The American manufacturing magnate Gordon W. Burnham donated the monument to the Park. Burnham hired the American sculptor Thomas Ball to create the monument, based on a statuette he had created that was popularly collected and displayed in American homes.
The placement of this colossal monument, which consists of a 20-foot pedestal and 14-foot figure, was controversial. Burnham wanted Webster placed at the southern end of the Mall, which had been designated as an appropriate space for monuments. However, Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux dismissed this idea because it would block views and compete visually with the trees. The site at the intersection of the West Drive and 72nd Street Cross Drive was chosen instead.
It was actually Burnham’s second gift to the Park, the first was the artwork Eagles and Prey.
Most of the Park’s monuments honor cultural figures such as writers or journalists, making the monument to Webster stand out. Other American statesmen honored in Central Park include Alexander Hamilton and Frederick Douglass.