4
LAW AND POLITICS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Portsmouth was a good place for the young couple to make their start. A proud, thriving seaport with a population of about five thousand, it claimed some of the best ships and sailors in the world and exuded an exotic atmosphere unknown to sleepy inland villages like Salisbury and Boscawen. Bustling wharves, dwarfed by the soaring spars of ships from Liverpool, Canton, and Jamaica, the cries of stevedores and seamen, a breeze heavy with the scent of brine, molasses, rum, and spices, dockside taverns crowded with pigtailed sailors -- all this was heady stuff for country folks. Still the town was not really large enough to be intimidating, and Grace had the security of knowing that her husband, with an assist no doubt from Christopher Gore, had already ingratiated himself in some of the best Portsmouth drawing rooms.

After temporarily renting quarters, Webster purchased a house not far from his office near Market Square. Two stories high with a gambrel roof, diamond-glass windows and probably four rooms to a floor, the house was an eminently respectable residence for a fledgling lawyer and a good measure of his ambition. He paid six thousands dollars for it, about three times his annual income. Within the neighborhood, however, the Webster place was modest enough. Not far down the street was the Governor Langdon House, a handsome, three-storied, elegantly paneled mansion which had offered hospitality to a host of famous visitors including George Washington. Webster would not entertain presidents in Portsmouth, but he was on the way.

Playing hostess to presidents was the last thing on Grace Fletcher Web

-46-

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