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nity by bringing together his speeches of a later date than those contained in the third volume of the former collection, and on political subjects arising since that time. Few periods of our history will be entitled to be remembered by events of greater moment, such as the admission of Texas to the Union, the settlement of the Oregon controversy, the Mexican war, the acquisition of California and other Mexican provinces, and the exciting questions which have grown out of the sudden extension of the territory of the United States. Rarely have public discussions been carried on with greater earnestness, with more important consequences visibly at stake, or with greater ability. The speeches made by Mr. Webster in the Senate, and on public occasions of various kinds, during the progress of these controversies, are more than sufficient to fill two new volumes. The opportunity of their collection has been taken by the enterprising publishers, in compliance with opinions often expressed by the most respectable individuals, and with a manifest public demand, to bring out a new edition of Mr. Webster's speeches in uniform style. Such is the object of the present publication. The first two volumes contain the speeches delivered by him on a great variety of public occasions, commencing with his discourse at Plymouth in December, 1820. Three succeeding volumes embrace the greater part of the speeches delivered in the Massachusetts Convention and in the two houses of Congress, beginning with the speech on the Bank of the United States in 1816. The sixth and last volume contains the legal arguments and addresses to the jury, the diplomatic papers, and letters addressed to various persons on important political questions. The collection does not embrace the entire series of Mr. Webster's writings. Such a series would have required a larger number of volumes than was deemed advisable with reference to the general circulation of the work. A few juvenile performances have accordingly been omitted, as not of sufficient importance or maturity to be included in the collection. Of the earlier speeches in Congress, some were either not reported at all, or in a manner too imperfect to be preserved without doing injustice to the author. No attempt has been made to collect from the contemporaneous newspapers or Congressional registers the short conversational speeches and remarks made by Mr. Webster, as by other prominent members of Congress, in the progress of debate, and sometimes exercising greater influence on the result than the set speeches. Of the addresses to public meetings it has been found impossible to embrace more than a selection, without swelling the work to an unreasonable size. It is believed, however, that the contents of these volumes furnish a fair specimen of Mr. Webster's opinions and sentiments on all the subjects treated, and of his manner of discussing them. The responsibility of deciding what should be omitted and what included has been left by Mr. Webster to the friends having the charge of the publication, and his own opinion on details of this kind has rarely been taken. In addition to such introductory notices as were deemed expedient relative to the occasions and subjects of the various speeches, it has been thought advisable that the collection should be accompanied with a Biographical Memoir, presenting a condensed view of Mr. Webster's public career, with a few observations by way of commentary on the principal speeches. Many things which might otherwise fitly be said in such an essay must, it is true, be excluded by that delicacy which qualifies the eulogy to be awarded even to the most eminent living worth. Much may be safely omitted, as too well known to need repetition in this community, though otherwise pertaining to a full survey of Mr. Webster's career. In preparing the following notice, free use has been made by the writer of the biographical sketches already before the public. Justice, however, requires that a specific acknowledgment should be made to an article in the American Quarterly Review for June, 1831, written, with equal accuracy and elegance, by Mr. George Ticknor, and containing a discriminating estimate of the speeches embraced in the first collection; and also to the highly spirited and vigorous work entitled “Reminiscences of Congress,” by Mr. Charles W. March. To this work the present sketch is largely indebted for the account of the parentage and early life of Mr. Webster; as well as for a very graphic description of the debate on Foot's resolution.
The family of Daniel Webster has been established in America from a very early period. It was of Scottish origin, but passed some time in England before the final emigration. Thomas Webster, the remotest ancestor who can be traced, was settled at Hampton, on the coast of New Hampshire, as early as 1636, sixteen years after the landing at Plymouth, and six years from the arrival of Governor Winthrop in Massachusetts Bay. The descent from Thomas Webster to Daniel can be traced in the church and town records of Hampton, Kingston (now East Kingston), and Salisbury. These records and the mouldering headstones of village grave-yards are the herald's office of the fathers of New England. Noah Webster, the learned author of the American Dictionary of the English Language, was of a collateral branch of the family. Ebenezer Webster, the father of Daniel, is still recollected in Kingston and Salisbury. His personal appearance was striking. He was erect, of athletic stature, six feet high, broad and full in the chest. Long service in the wars had given him a military air and carriage. He belonged to that intrepid border race, which lined the whole frontier of the Anglo-American colonies, by turns farmers, huntsmen, and soldiers, and passing their lives in one long struggle with the hardships of an infant settlement, on the skirts of a primeval forest. Ebenezer Webster enlisted early in life as a common soldier, in one of those formidable companies of rangers, which rendered such important services under Sir Jeffrey Amherst and Wolfe in the Seven Years' War. He followed the former distinguished leader in the invasion of Canada, attracted the attention and gained the good-will of his superior officers by his brave and faithful conduct, and rose to the rank of a captain before the end of the war. For the first half of the last century the settlements of New Hampshire had made but little progress into the interior. Every war between France and Great Britain in Europe was the signal of an irruption of the Canadian French and their Indian allies into New England. As late as 1755 they sacked villages on the Connecticut River, and John Stark, while hunting on Baker's River, three years before, was taken a prisoner and sold as a slave into Canada. One can scarcely believe that it is not yet a hundred years since occurrences like these took place. The cession of Canada to England by the treaty of 1763 entirely changed this state of things. It opened the pathways of the forest and the gates of the Western hills. The royal governor
of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth, began to make grants of land in the central parts of the State. Colonel Stevens of Kingston, with some of his neighbors, mostly retired officers and soldiers, obtained a grant of the town of Salisbury, which was at first called Stevenstown, from the principal grantee. This town is situated exactly at the point where the Merrimack River is formed by the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipiseogee. Captain Webster was one of the settlers of the newly granted township, and received an allotment in its northerly portion. More adventurous than others of the company, he cut his way deeper into the wilderness, and made the path he could not find. At this time his nearest civilized neighbors on the northwest were at Montreal. The following allusion of Mr. Webster to his birthplace will be read with interest. It is from a speech delivered before a great public assembly at Saratoga, in the year 1840.
“It did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, raised amid the snowdrifts of New Hampshire, at a period so early that, when the smoke first rose from its rude chimney, and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children to it to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the kindred ties, the early affections, and the touching narratives and incidents, which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode. I weep to think that none of those who inhabited it are now among the living; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in affectionate veneration for HIM who reared and defended it against savage violence and destruction, cherished all the domestic virtues beneath its roof, and, through the fire and blood of seven years' revolutionary war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice, to serve his country, and to raise his children to a condition better than his own, may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted for ever from the memory of mankind!”
Soon after his settlement in Salisbury, the first wife of Ebenezer Webster having deceased, he married Abigail Eastman, who became the mother of Ezekiel and Daniel Webster, the only sons of the second marriage. Like the mothers of so many men of eminence, she was a woman of more than ordinary intellect, and possessed a force of character which was felt through
out the humble circle in which she moved. She was proud of her sons and ambitious that they should excel. Her anticipations went beyond the narrow sphere in which their lot seemed to be cast, and the distinction attained by both, and especially by the younger, may well be traced in part to her early promptings and judicious guidance.
About the time of his second marriage, Captain Ebenezer Webster erected a frame house hard by the log cabin. He dug a well near it and planted an elm sapling. In this house Daniel Webster was born. It has long since disappeared, but the spot where it stood is well known, and is covered by a house since built. The cellar of the log cabin is still visible, though partly filled with the accumulations of seventy years. “The well still remains,” says Mr. March, “with water as pure, as cool, and as limpid as when first brought to light, and will remain in all probability for ages, to refresh hereafter the votaries of genius who make their pilgrimage hither, to visit the cradle of one of her greatest sons. The elm that shaded the boy still flourishes in vigorous leaf, and may have an existence beyond its perishable nature. Like
‘The witch-elm that guards St. Fillan's spring,”
it may live in story long after leaf, and branch, and root have disappeared for ever.” The interval between the peace of 1763 and the breaking out of the war of the Revolution was one of excitement and anxiety throughout the Colonies. The great political questions of the day were not only discussed in the towns and cities, but in the villages and hamlets. Captain Webster took a deep interest in those discussions. Like so many of the officers and soldiers of the former war, he obeyed the first call to arms in the new struggle. He commanded a company, chiefly composed of his own townspeople, friends, and kindred, who followed him through the greater portion of the war. He was at the battle of White Plains, and was at West Point when the treason of Arnold was discovered. He acted as a Major under Stark at Bennington, and contributed his share to the success of that eventful day. In the last year of the Revolutionary war, on the 18th of January, 1782, Daniel Webster was born, in the home which his