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97274 ASTOR, LEN)X 4.9D TILDEN FOUNDAI NO
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred
BY MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN. In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York.
Copy-right on this volume is claimed only on the Title, Preface, and
Prefatory Matter to each Division.
STEREOTYPERS AND PRINTERS
It has been my intention in this volume to give, not only Mr. Webster's acknowledged master-pieces, but his master-piece in each department of the great field of intellectual action which he occupied in life; and, though there are other speeches, which would compare favorably with some that have found a place here, there is none, it is believed, which could be regarded as superior, in any of the divisions, to the one selected.
In several of the great speeches not included in this collection, there are single passages, which, perhaps, could scarcely be surpassed, if some of them could be equaled, by any passages found in the speeches included in this volume; but, in making a collection of his master-pieces, the object of search is not single passages, but entire performances; and, taking this as the standard, there is no room for doubt that the volume here presented to the reader contains the ablest and most eloquent productions bequeathed to the world by the genius of Daniel Webster. They are the productions, which, it is presumed, every gentleman will feel it necessary to have about him; and it is equally presumable that no enlightened parent, no true-hearted American citizen, will wish to have his sons and daughters grow up without becoming more or less familiar with those master efforts of the greatest man, intellectually, which our common country has yet given us.
We have heard much in days passed, and may hear more in days to come, of a dissolution of our national confederacy. Rank doctrines are no doubt at work in different sections of the Union, and in the several strata of society. While Mr. Webster lived, he was acknowledged as the ablest supporter and defender of the constitution as it is, and of the country as it is. From one end of the coun. try to the other, from the rocky shores of the Atlantic to the peaceful waters of the Pacific, his name, his voice, his authority, were everywhere known and recognized as the great bulwark of our American nationality, of our American independence, of the integrity and perpetuity of our great and united American republic. At the north, and at the south, from the east to the farthest west, he was known and felt in this high capacity. But he was thus known, not by virtue of any office he ever filled; for he never rose to an office which made him the representative of more than one state in the confederacy. He was known as such, indeed, not so much as a senator from the patriotic state of Massachusetts, as for his personal ability and efforts, out of congress as well as in it, from the day his name became connected with the history of the country. He was so known, in a word, for the speeches he made, at different times, as the first of American orators devoted to the defence of the institutions and of the existence of the nation; and these speeches, which are destined to last from generation to generation, constitute the body of this volume. Since the living voice, then, is silent forever in the grave, shall not the immortal utterances of that voice be welcome throughout the whole country, east, west, north, south, as the best creations of American oratorical genius, and as the most salutary instructions and lessons to the entire American brotherhood? Though born in one section of the country, and settled in after life in another section, he belonged to all sections equally, to the whole people of the republic; and his name and fame, and his immortal works, should be equally welcome, and will be welcome, in every portion of the Union.
It will be a curious and instructive exercise for the reader, in the perusal of the several speeches, to look at the dates of their publication, and thus note the progress of Mr. Webster's mind toward that wonderful development which it finally attained; and it will be particularly noticed, that between the times of his Dartmouth College argument and of his reply to Hayne, which mark the two extremes of the most brilliant period of his life, there is a space of only twelve years, which were the years intervening between the thirty-sixth and the forty-eighth year of his age.
It is quite evident that Mr. Webster matured rather slowly; that his efforts made before the age of fifty were his most popular because the most impassioned efforts ; but that his productions dated beyond the age of fifty, though less fiery, are generally more indic