The American Whigs: An Anthology

By Daniel Walker Howe | Go to book overview

2
THE PROMISE OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

Edward Everett


FOURTH OF JULY ADDRESS AT LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS

The career of Edward Everett ( 1794-1865) illustrates the wide range of opportunities available to the orator in nineteenth-century America. Everett was by turns a preacher, professor, politician, journalist, diplomat, and lecturer. The first American to earn a Ph.D. (in Germany, since no institution in this country as yet offered the degree), he served as governor of Massachusetts, president of Harvard, minister to Britain, and secretary of state. A whole generation embraced him as the ideal man of letters; enthralled by his eloquence, Ralph Waldo Emerson called him "our Cicero." What was to be the crowning glory of his career ended ironically: Everett delivered a two-hour oration at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, only to be forever upstaged by Lincoln's brief closing remarks.

When Everett gave the following speech, he was a congressman from Massachusetts. In Lowell, one of the first textile mill towns, he took the occasion of Independence Day to discourse on the benefits of manufacturing to America. Everett always remained a loyal Whig and as late as 1860 ran as vice-presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party, the Whigs' last gasp.

A considerable part of my time, since I was honored with your invitation, has been necessarily devoted by me to fulfilling a previous engagement. I therefore appear before you this morning under circumstances creating some claim to your indulgence.

It seemed, however, to me that this was peculiarly the occasion when a man ought to be ready and willing to appear before his

____________________

SOURCE. Edward Everett, "Fourth of July at Lowell" ( 1830), Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions ( Boston, 1850), I, 47-66.

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