91

DANIEL WEBSTER.

The lives, characters and services of such men as WEBSTER, CLAY and CALHOUN, are identified with the history of their country. When the future historian shall give an account of the wonderful progress and magnificent career of the United States, during the period these great men exercised their influence on the destiny of the Nation, they will stand out in bold relief from the historic canvass, and their conduct and actions will be weighed in the scales of even-handed justice. All that can be attempted on this occasion is, to trace a faint and imperfect outline of the principal incidents in the life of the illustrious dead who is the special subject of this discourse.

DANIEL WEBSTER was born on the 18th January, 1782, the last year of the Revolutionary War, at Salisbury, in the State of New Hampshire. His father was a man of great vigor of mind, and of a striking personal appearance. "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." His mother, "like the mothers of so many men of eminence, was a woman of more than ordinary intellect, and possessed a force of character which was felt throughout 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 DANIEL, may be traced in part to her early promptings and judicious guidance." From his earliest youth he manifested great eagerness for learning; but although education had been encouraged and fostered in the New England States from their first settlement, still the teachers in those days were not always the most competent to impart solid and extensive instruction to their scholars. Young WEBSTER, however, availed himself as far as possible of the limited means of education which were placed within his reach. On account of his father's narrow circumstances, the thought of enjoying the advantages of a collegiate education had never occurred to him, until his father informed him of his intention, at the age of fifteen. "I remember," says Mr. WEBSTER, in an autobiographical memorandum of his boyhood, "the very hill which we were ascending, through

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104