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

RECEPTION AT BOSTON
.

A SPEECH MADE IN FANEUIL HALL, ON THE 30TH OF SEPTEMBER, 1842, AT A PUBLIC RECEPTION GIVEN TO MR. WEBSTER, ON HIS RETURN TO BOSTON, AFTER THE NEGOTIATION OF THE TREATY OF WASHINGTON

[ON the accession of General Harrison to the Presidency of the United States, on the 4th of March, 1841, Mr. Webster was called to the office of Secretary of State, in which, after the President's untimely death, he continned under Mr. Tyler for about two years. The relations of the country with Great Britain were at that time in a very critical position. The most important and difficult subject which engaged the attention of the government, while he filled the Department of State, was the negotiation of the treaty with Great Britain, which was signed at Washington on the 9th of August, 1842. The other members of General Harrison's Cabinet having resigned their places in the autumn of 1841, discontent was felt by some of their friends, that Mr. Webster should have consented to retain his. But as Mr. Tyler continued to place entire confidence in Mr. Webster's administration of the Department of State, the great importance of pursuing a steady line of policy in reference to foreign affairs, and especially the hope of averting a rupture with England by an honorable settlement of our difficulties with that country, induced Mr. Webster to remain at his post.

On occasion of a visit made by him to Boston, after the adjournment of Congress, in August, 1842, a number of his friends were desirous of manifesting their sense of the services which he had rendered to the country by pursuing this course. A public meeting of citizens was accordingly held in Faneuil Hall, on the 30th of September, 1842. At this meeting the following speech was made.]

I KNOW not how it is, Mr. Mayor, but there is something in the echoes of these walls, or in this sea of upturned faces which I behold before me, or in the genius that always hovers over this place, fanning ardent and patriotic feeling by every motion of its wings,--I know not how it is, but there is something that excites me strangely, deeply, before I even begin to speak. It cannot be doubted that this salutation and greeting from my fellow-citizens of Boston is a tribute dear to my heart. Boston is indeed my home, my cherished home. It is now more than twentyfive years since I came to it with my family, to pursue, here in this enlightened metropolis, those objects of professional life for which my studies and education were designed to fit me. It is twenty years since I was invited by the citizens of Boston to take upon myself an office of public trust in their service.1 It gives me infinite pleasure to see here to-day, among those who hold the seats yielded to such as are more advanced in life, not a few of the gentlemen who were earnestly instrumental in inducing me to enter upon a course of life wholly unexpected, and to devote myself to the service of the public.

Whenever the duties of public life have withdrawn me from this home, I have felt it, nevertheless, to be the attractive spot to which all local affection tended. And now that the progress of

____________________
The office of Representative in Congress.

-481-

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