SALISBURY, EXETER, AND HANOVER
Although he would become closely identified with the Boston aristocracy and was proud to trace his lineage back to the first generation of New England settlers on both sides of his family, there was nothing Brahmin about Daniel Webster's background. Except for Stephen Bachelder, the first settled clergyman in New Hampshire, from whom his father's mother had descended, he came from a long line of tough pioneer farmers who had battled bears, wolves, Indians, Frenchmen, and the granite-laden soil of New Hampshire for almost 150 years in order to survive.
Daniel was the product of four generations of New England Websters. His father, Ebenezer, had been born the son of a plain farmer family in Kingston, New Hampshire, in 1739. Without ever having gone to school, Ebenezer had been on his own since the age of fourteen, when he ran away from a hard master to work as a teamster in Portsmouth. While still a boy he signed up with Roger's Rangers and saw action in the French and Indian War under General Amherst in Canada. After the war he married a Kingston girl and in 1762, blazed a trail through the wilderness to claim two hundred acres of land in the rugged hill country west of the upper Merrimack River. The site of his log cabin in what would become Salisbury, New Hampshire, was on the extreme northern perimeter of the American frontier. Daniel was born January 18, 1782, in a four-room frame house near that cabin. Two years later his father moved the family to a much larger building three miles to the east in the more fertile Merrimack valley. It was here on Elms Farm that the boy passed the formative years of his childhood.