The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With An Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview

THE REPLY TO HAYNE.

SECOND SPEECH ON "FOOT'S RESOLUTION," DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE 26TH AND 27TH OF JANUARY, 1830.

[MR. WEBSTER having completed on January 20th his first speech on Foot's resolution, Mr. Benton spoke in reply, on the 20th and 21st of January, 1830. Mr. Hayne of South Carolina followed on the same side, but, after some time, gave way for a motion for adjournment. On Monday, the 25th, Mr. Hayne resumed, and concluded his argument. Mr. Webster immediately rose in reply, but yielded the floor for a motion for adjournment.

The next day ( 26th January, 1830) Mr. Webster took the floor and delivered the following speech, which has given such great celebrity to the debate. The circumstances connected with this remarkable effort of parliamentary eloquence are vividly sot forth in Mr. Everett's Memoir, prefixed to the first volume of Mr. Webster's Works.]

MR. PRESIDEST, -- When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for the reading of the resolution before the Senate.

The Secretary read the resolution, as follows:--

"Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lauds be instructed to inquire and report the quantity of public lands remaining unsold within each State and Territory, and whether it be expedient to limit for a certain period the sales of the public lands to such lands only as have heretofore been offered for sale, and are now subject to entry at the minimum price. And, also, whether the office of Surveyor-General, and some of the land offices, may not be abolished without detriment to the public interest; or whether it be expedient to adopt measures to hasten tile sales and extend more rapidly the surveys of the public lands."

We have thus heard, Sir, what the resolution is which is actually before us for consideration; and it will readily occur to every one, that it is almost the only subject about which something has not been said in the speech, running through two days, by which the Senate has been entertained by the gentleman from South Carolina. Every topic in the wide range of our public affairs, whether past or present,--every thing, general or local, whether belonging to national politics or party politics,-- seems to have attracted more or less of the honorable member's attention, save only the resolution before the Senate. He has spoken of every thing but the public lands; they have escaped his notice. To that subject, in all his excursions, he has not paid even the cold respect of a passing glance.

When this debate, Sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it so happened that it would have been convenient for me to be elsewhere. The honorable member, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to discharge it.

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