Daniel Webster eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about Daniel Webster.
delivered in New York at the dinner of the Pilgrim Society, the remarks on the death of Judge Story and of Mr. Mason, and finally the speech on laying the corner-stone for the addition to the Capitol, in 1851.  These were all comparatively brief speeches, with the exception of that at Bunker Hill, which, although very fine, was perceptibly inferior to his first effort when the corner-stone of the monument was laid.  The address on the character of Washington, to an American the most dangerous of great and well-worn topics, is of a high order of eloquence.  The theme appealed to Mr. Webster strongly and brought out his best powers, which were peculiarly fitted to do justice to the noble, massive, and dignified character of the subject.  The last of these addresses, that on the addition to the Capitol, was in a prophetic vein, and, while it shows but little diminution of strength, has a sadness even in its splendid anticipations of the future, which makes it one of the most impressive of its class.  All those which have been mentioned, however, show the hand of the master and are worthy to be preserved in the volumes which contain the noble series that began in the early flush of genius with the brilliant oration in the Plymouth church, and closed with the words uttered at Washington, under the shadow of the Capitol, when the light of life was fading and the end of all things was at hand.

CHAPTER V.

RETURN TO CONGRESS.

The thorough knowledge of the principles of government and legislation, the practical statesmanship, and the capacity for debate shown in the State convention, combined with the splendid oration at Plymouth to make Mr. Webster the most conspicuous man in New England, with the single exception of John Quincy Adams.  There was, therefore, a strong and general desire that he should return to public life.  He accepted with some reluctance the nomination to Congress from the Boston district in 1822, and in December, 1823, took his seat.

The six years which had elapsed since Mr. Webster left Washington had been a period of political quiet.  The old parties had ceased to represent any distinctive principles, and the Federalists scarcely existed as an organization.  Mr. Webster, during this interval, had remained almost wholly quiescent in regard to public affairs.  He had urged the visit of Mr. Monroe to the North, which had done so much to hasten the inevitable dissolution of parties.  He had received Mr. Calhoun when that gentleman visited Boston, and their friendship and apparent intimacy were such that the South Carolinian was thought to be his host’s candidate for the presidency.  Except for this and the part which he took in the Boston opposition to the Missouri compromise and to the tariff, matters to be noticed in connection with later events, Mr. Webster had held aloof from political conflict.

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