Daniel Webster eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about Daniel Webster.
and, despite his hostility to Jackson, viewed the overthrow of Mr. Adams with a good deal of indifference and some satisfaction.  It is none the less true, however, that during these years when the first foundations of the future Whig party were laid, Mr. Webster formed the political affiliations which were to last through life.  He inevitably found himself associated with Clay and Adams, and opposed to Jackson, Benton, and Van Buren, while at the same time he and Calhoun were fast drifting apart.  He had no specially cordial feeling to his new associates; but they were at the head of the conservative elements of the country, they were nationalists in policy, and they favored the views which were most affected in New England.  As a conservative and nationalist by nature and education, and as the great New England leader, Mr. Webster could not avoid becoming the parliamentary chief of Mr. Adams’s administration, and thus paved the way for leadership in the Whig party of the future.

In narrating the history of these years, I have confined myself to Mr. Webster’s public services and political course.  But it was a period in his career which was crowded with work and achievement, bringing fresh fame and increased reputation, and also with domestic events both of joy and sorrow.  Mr. Webster steadily pursued the practice of the law, and was constantly engaged in the Supreme Court.  To these years belong many of his great arguments, and also the prosecution of the Spanish claims, a task at once laborious and profitable.  In the summer of 1824 Mr. Webster first saw Marshfield, his future home, and in the autumn of the same year he visited Monticello, where he had a long interview with Mr. Jefferson, of whom he has left a most interesting description.  During the winter he formed the acquaintance and lived much in the society of some well-known Englishmen then travelling in this country.  This party consisted of the Earl of Derby, then Mr. Stanley, Lord Wharncliffe, then Mr. Stuart Wortley; Lord Taunton, then Mr. Labouchere, and Mr. Denison, afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons.  With Mr. Denison this acquaintance was the foundation of a lasting and intimate friendship maintained by correspondence.  In June, 1825, came the splendid oration at Bunker Hill, and then a visit to Niagara, which, of course, appealed strongly to Mr. Webster.  His account of it, however, although indicative of a deep mental impression, shows that his power of describing nature fell far short of his wonderful talent for picturing human passions and action.  The next vacation brought the eulogy on Adams and Jefferson, when perhaps Mr. Webster may be considered to have been in his highest physical and intellectual perfection.  Such at least was the opinion of Mr. Ticknor, who says:—­

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