Daniel Webster eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about Daniel Webster.

On March 4, 1817, the fourteenth Congress expired, and with it the term of Mr. Webster’s service.  Five years were to intervene before he again appeared in the arena of national politics.  This retirement from active public life was due to professional reasons.  In nine years Mr. Webster had attained to the very summit of his profession in New Hampshire.  He was earning two thousand dollars a year, and in that hardy and poor community he could not hope to earn more.  To a man with such great and productive talents, and with a growing family, a larger field had become an absolute necessity.  In June, 1816, therefore, Mr. Webster removed from Portsmouth to Boston.  That he gained by the change is apparent from the fact that the first year after his removal his professional income did not fall short of twenty thousand dollars.  The first suggestion of the possibilities of wealth offered to his abilities in a suitable field came from his going to Washington.  There, in the winter of 1813 and 1814, he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, before which he tried two or three cases, and this opened the vista of a professional career, which he felt would give him verge and room enough, as well as fit remuneration.  From this beginning the Supreme Court practice, which soon led to the removal to Boston, rapidly increased, until, in the last session of his term, it occupied most of his time.  This withdrawal from the duties of Congress, however, was not due to a sacrifice of his time to his professional engagements, but to the depression caused by his first great grief, which must have rendered the noise and dust of debate most distasteful to him.  Mr. and Mrs. Webster had arrived in Washington for this last session, in December, 1816, and were recalled to Boston by the illness of their little daughter Grace, who was their oldest child, singularly bright and precocious, with much of her father’s look and talent, and of her mother’s sensibility.  She was a favorite with her father, and tenderly beloved by him.  After her parents’ return she sank rapidly, the victim of consumption.  When the last hour was at hand, the child, rousing from sleep, asked for her father.  He came, raised her upon his arm, and, as he did so, she smiled upon him and died.  It is a little incident in the life of a great man, but a child’s instinct does not err at such a moment, and her dying smile sheds a flood of soft light upon the deep and warm affections of Mr. Webster’s solemn and reserved nature.  It was the first great grief.  Mr. Webster wept convulsively as he stood beside the dead, and those who saw that stately creature so wrung by anguish of the heart never forgot the sight.

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Daniel Webster from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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