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topics connected with the war-were characterized by masterly vigor, and by an uncommon acquaintance with constitutional learning and with the history of the Government.
In August, 1816, Mr. Webster removed to Boston, and took the place which belonged to his commanding talent and legal eminence. In 1818, he made his brilliant and powerful speech in the celebrated Dartmouth College case, which ranked him among the very first jurists of the country. In 1820, ho was elected a member of the convention for revising the Constitution of Massachusetts. In December of the same year, he delivered his eloquent Discourse in Commemoration of the Landing of the Pilgrims. Two years afterwards, he was re-elected to Congress from Boston ; and on the 19th of January, 1823, (little more than a month after he took his seat,) he made his celebrated speech on the Greek Revolution, which gave him high reputation as a statesman and an orator. In this, as in bis Plymouth oration, he showed his warm sympathies on the side of freedom. In 1825, he delivered an oration on the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker Hill Monument, and, the next year, a eulogy upon Adams and Jefferson,- both of which are among his happiest efforts.
In 1828, Mr. Webster took his seat in the Senate of the United States, in which he remained twelve years. During this time, the most important questions were considered, and measures of the highest moment were brought forward, in the discussion of which he always took a leading part. In 1830, he made what is justly considered the greatest of his Congressional efforts,--bis reply to Colonel Hayne, of South Carolina. This gentleman, in a speech on a resolution moved by Mr. Foote, of Connecticut, relative to the survey of the public lande, had indulged in some personalities against Mr. Webster, had commented with severity on the political course of the New England States, and had laid down, in an authoritative manner, his views of the doctrine of “ nullification.” Mr. Webster felt it his duty to defend himself, to vindicate New England, and to point out the fallacies of “nullification.” This he did in a speech which, for beauty, perspicuity, and strength of style, for sound logic, keen sarcasm, true patriotism, and lofty eloquence combined, has hardly its equal in the English language.
In 1839, Mr. Webster visited Europe. His fame had, of course, preceded him, and he was everywhere received with the attention due to his character, talents, and eloquence. On the accession of General Harrison to the Presidency, in 1811, be was appointed Secretary of State. While in this office, he was the means of settling the Northeastern boundary question with Great Britain, and the result of his labors, on the whole, met the approbation of the public. About this time, his fame as a public man received its first stain in his “Creole Letter" of instructions to Mr. Everett, then our minister to England, demanding of the British Government some slaves which had escaped to one of their islands. It need
1 It has been thought by many, fully competent to judge in the case, that he bere made a great mistake, and gave to England what, according to the terins of an early treaty with her, she bad no right to,-a large slice of the State of Maine, (about five thousand square miles,) which never, probably, would have been given had the disputed territory lain on our Southern contines.
2 The brig “Creole” sailed from Richmond in October, 1841, with one hundred and thirty-five slaves, bound for New Orleans. When a few days from port, the slaves rose, murdered a passenger who claimed the ownership of most of them, took possession of the vessel, and stoered her for the port of Nassau, in the Brihardly be said that the demand was never complied with. Mr. Harrison's cabinet was broken up in 1842; but Mr. Webster remained in office till the spring of 1843, during which time steps were taken which led to the recognition of the independence of the Sandwich Islands by the principal maritime powers. With the commencement of Mr. Polk's administration, in 1845, Mr. Webster returned to the Senate of the United States, in which he continued through 1850. In 1816, he opposed our infamous Mexican war, but, with an inconsistency unworthy of his great powers, voted for supplies to carry it on.
On the 7th of March, 1850, he made his celebrated speech on the “Compromiso Measures,” including the infamous Fugitive Slave Bill. When the news first came that Mr. Webster had given his support to that bill, the people of the North could hardly believe it. But when the news was confirmed, the scorn, the mortification, the indignation that were felt, can only be realized by those who were conversant at the time with public affairs. The speech itself, in point of style and argument, is altogether the weakest of all his efforts. How could it be otherwise? How could Daniel Webster, with his great heart, true humanity, and giant intellect, be eloquent in supporting such a measure ? But this was not the worst, even : he went about from place to place,-to Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, &c.,—endeavoring to show the people the rightfulness and the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Bill. Alas, that such a mind should have labored in such a work !2
In June, 1852, the Whig Convention met at Baltimore, to nominate a candidate for the Presidency. That he was immeasurably superior to any of the names before the Convention, in every great quality requisite for a President, no one ever
tish island of New Providence. It is deeply to be regretted for Mr. Webster's fame that he should have penned such a letter to our minister as he did, demanding of England a surrender of these slaves,--a letter so weak in argument and so unfeeling in sentiment. Let us suppose that a number of Englishmen, taken by the Algerines and reduced to slavery, had found such means to escape as did the slaves of the “Creole," and had taken shelter in our country: what would our Government say to a demand from Algiers to give them up?
1 It was soon after he had delivered this speech, that Whittier wrote his poem entitled “Ichabod," justly admired for its deep feeling, regretful tenderness, and sublime pathos.
2 The following remarks show the light in which this portion of Mr. Webster's history is viewed from the stand-point of liberty by that eminent Christian jurist, Judge Jay, who loved truth above all other things; whose writings, it has been justly remarked, “are uniformly characterized by the candor of a philosopher, the accuracy of a statesman, the courtesy of a gentleman, and the charity of a Christian;" and who well understood the meaning
of the words of the Apostlo that “charity rejoiceth in the TRUTH:"
“Of all the traitors to the cause of humanity, Mr. Webster is to me one of the most revolting. After the most solemn pledges never to consent to the introduction of slavery into the Territories, he refused to apply the Wilmot Proviso to New Mexico and California, under the impudent pretext that to apply it would be to re-enact the laws of God,' it being physically impossible that slavery could exist in those Territories. Afterwards, becoming desperate in the Presidential canvass, he went about making speeches in favor of the Fugitive Slave Law, and insulting every lawyer who denied that it was constitutional. But his most heinous sin was his arming this law with the terrors of constructive treason. The Christiana treason trials were instituted in obedience to orders from the State Department, and Castner Hanway was tried for his life for levying war against the United States, becausc he refused to aid in catching a fugitive slave!!"
doubted. But of the two hundred and ninety-three votes ho got but thirty-three, and that only once. Fifty-three times did the Convention ballot; but the South, for whom he had made such sacrifices, never gave him a single vote, and General Scott proved the “available” man. On Mr. Webster's return to Boston from Washington, July 9, the citizens gave him a grand public reception. It was kind in them thus to administer a balm to his wounded spirit, and to ease his fall. He then returned to his farm at Marshfield, where he died Sunday, October 24, 1852. The news of his death excited profound sorrow throughout the country, and demonstrations of mourning appeared in all quarters, evincing how complete a hold he had upon the affections of his countrymen, who were willing, for a time at least, to forget his crrors and lapses, in the recollection of his transcendent abilities exerted so many years for good.2
of the character of Mr. Webster as a jurist, a statesman, an orator, there can be but one opinion with all candid minds:—that he was head and shoulders above all his contemporaries, -“ Facile primus inter pares." As a jurist, if exceeded by some in depth of professional reading, he was still master of all the learning required for the discussion of every question, however abstruse; while for a memory that grasped every detail, for a skill that nothing could elude, for a compactness and clearness of statement that made his statements arguments, for rare condensation and surpassing logic, he must always rank as the first of his age.
As a statesman, few hare equalled him. He could study and judge subjects in all their relations and details, with a large and liberal comprehensiveness, with a wide range of political knowledge, and sound views of constitutional interpretation; and had he always followed the instincts of his own heart, and the promptings of his own enlightened conscience, and not looked at what he thought would be inost conducive to his interests in his Presidential aspiringe, ho would have left a fame surpassed by that of no man, living or dead.
As an orator, Mr. Webster had none of the graces of the finished rhetorician;
No one now doubts that, had Mr. Webster, with his giant mind and powerful eloquence, exerted all his abilities to defeat, as ho did to carry through, the " Compromise Bill," he would have succeeded; would have reversed the whole current of public affairs; would have carried with him the sound judgment and enthusiastic feeling of the whole North; and thus would have been borne onward, on the mighty wave of popular enthusiasm, into the Presidential chair. What an opportunity for good forever lost! Let his fate be a warning to all aspirants for political distinction, and impress upon them the truth that it is infinitely better to be right, than to possess the highest office in the gift of the people.
“ High roorth is elevated place: 'tis more;
It makes the post stand candidate for thee;
Makes more than monarchs,--muakes an honest man." 2 I have looked on many mighty men,-King George, the “first gentleman ile England;" Sir Astley Cooper, the Apollo of his generation; Peel, O'Connell, Palmerston, Lyndburst,—all nature's noblemen; I have seen Cuvier, Guizot, Arago, Lamartine, marked in their persons by the genius which has carried their names over the world ; I have seen Clay, and Calhoun, and Pinckney, and King, and Dwight, and Daggett, who stand as high examples of personal endowment in our annals; and yet not one of these approached Mr. Webster in the commanding power of their personal presence. There was a grandeur in his form, an intelligence in his deep, dark eye, a loftiness in his expansive brow, a significance in his archer lip, altogether beyxud those of any other human being I ever saw.”— Goodrich's Recollections.
but he had what is infinitely better,—a vigor, precision, and perspicuity of style, and a rich imagination, united to a manliness of person and grandeur of mien, that riveted the attention of his audience, and produced an overwhelming effect on a deliberative assembly. Witness his discourse at Plymouth, his address at Bunker Hill, his remarkable speech at Salem on the trial of Knapp for murder, his eulogy on Adams and Jefferson, and his reply to Hayne.
Mr. Webster's works, with a life by Edward Everett, have been published in six volumes, octavo,-volumes full of thought, pregnant with instruction, abounding in knowledge, beautified, adorned, and commended by a style that unites, in a remarkablo degree, the four highest qualities,-perspicuity, beauty, precision, and strength.
OUR COUNTRY IN 1920.
The hours of this day are rapidly flying, and this occasion will soon be past. Neither we nor our children can expect to behold its return. They are in the distant regions of futurity; they exist only in the all-creating power of God who shall stand here, a hundred years hence, to trace, through us, their descent from the Pilgrims, and to survey, as we have now surveyed, the progress of their country during the lapse of a century. We would anticipate their concurrence with us in our sentiments of deep regard for our common ancestors. We would anticipate and partake the pleasure with which they will then recount the steps of New England's advancement. On the morning of that day, although it will not disturb us in our repose, the voice of acclamation and gratitude, commencing on the Rock of Plymouth, shall be transmitted through millions of the sons of the Pilgrims, till it lose itself in the murmurs of the Pacific seas.
We would leave, for the consideration of those who shall then occupy our places, some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation; some proof of our attachment to the cause of good government, and of civil and religious liberty; som roof of a sincere and ardent desire to promote every thing which may enlarge the understandings and improve the hearts of men. And when, from the long distance of one hundred years, they shall look back upon us, they shall know, at least, that we possessed affections which, running backward, and warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity, and meet them with cordial salutation, ere yet they have arrived on the shore of being.
Advance, then, ye future generations ! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers. We bid you
welcome to the healthful skies and the verdant fields of New England. We greet your accession to the great inheritance which we have enjoyed. We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. We welcome you to the treasures of science and the delights of learning. We welcome you to the transcendent sweets of domestic life, to the happiness of kindred, and parents, and children. We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth!
Oration at Plymouth, 1820.
ADDRESS TO THE SURVIVING SOLDIERS OF THE REVOLUTION
VENERABLE MEN! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same ocean rolls at your feet; but all else, how changed! You hear now no roar of hostile cannon; you see no mixed volumes of smoke and flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and successful repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning of all that is manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in war and death, -all these you have witnessed; but you witness them no more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emotions for the issue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the sight of its whole happy population, come out to welcomo and greet you with an universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seeming fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but your country's own means of distinction and defence. All is peace; and God has granted you this sight of your country's happiness, ere you slumber in the grave forever. He has allowed you to behold and to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and He has allowed us, your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and, in the name of the present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of liberty, to thank you!