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And, now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the benefit which the example of our country has produced, and is likely to produce, on human freedom and human happiness. Let us endeavor to comprehend in all its magnitude, and to feel in all its importance, the part assigned to us in the great drama of human affairs. We are placed at the head of the system of representative and popular governments. Thus far our example shows that such governments are compatible, not only with respectability and power, but with repose, with peace, with security of personal rights, with good laws, and a just administration.

We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems are preferred, either as being thought better in themselves, or as better suited to existing conditions, we leave the preference to be enjoyed. Our history hitherto proves, however, that the popular form is practicable, and that with wisdom and knowledge men may govern themselves; and the duty incumbent on us is to preserve the consistency of this cheering example, and take care that nothing may weaken its authority with the world. If, in our case, the representative system ultimately fail, popular governments must be pronounced impossible. No combination of circumstances more favorable to the experiment can ever be expected to occur. The last hopes of mankind, therefore, rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth.

These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of doubt. Our history and our condition, all that is gone before us, and all that surrounds us, authorize the belief that popular governments, though subject to occasional variations, in form perhaps not always for the better, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and permanent as other systems. We know, indeed, that in our country any other is impossible. The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains.

And let the sacred obligations which have devolved on this generation, and on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those who established our liberty and our government are daily dropping from among us. The great trust now descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to that which is presented to us, as our appropriate object. We can win no laurels in a war for independence. Earlier and worthier hands have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us by the side of Solon, and Alfred, and other founders of states. Our fathers have filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defense and preservation; and there is opened to us, also, a noble pursuit, to which the spirit of the times strongly invites

Our proper business is improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day of peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and harmony. In pursuing the great objects which our condition points out to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these twenty-four States are one country. Let our conceptions be enlarged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our object be, OUR COUNTRY, OUR WHOLE COUNTRY, AND NOTHING BUT OUR COUNTRY. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever!


Exactly what did Webster wish to commemorate?

In what sense is this speech a valedictory of the American Revolution ?

In what respects was the occasion fit for a commemorative address?

Did the orator in delivering this address contend with opposition of any sort?

Why is formal argument out of place in this address?

Point out instances where Webster used persons or places to make his words persuasive.

Why were current events given a place in this commemorative address ?

State as briefly as possible the thought that underlies the address as a whole.

Point out respects in which Webster's ideal of government is more democratic than Chatham's.


January 26, 1830

IN 1824 when Henry Clay proposed a tariff bill which raised the duty on imported goods to thirty-three and a third per cent and to a minimum of thirty cents a yard on cotton cloth, the measure was opposed by Daniel Webster. He maintained that Engish manufacturers had prospered in spite of protection, not because of it; and he questioned the wisdom of attempting to support a business that “cannot support itself.” Much more outspoken in their opposition to a protective tariff at this time, however, were Calhoun, Randolph, and other southern statesmen. They held that the current import duties were designed to rob the southern agriculturists for the benefit of New England.

In 1828 when still higher tariff was under discussion Webster failed to oppose the measure. While in theory he was still inclined to free trade, he believed it unwise to press his own views since the country had committed itself to protection in 1824 and various industries had been organized with that understanding. This change in his public policy, without regard for his conflicting personal feelings, is a tribute to the earnestness and sincerity of his patriotism. The bill when passed was dubbed by the South, The Tariff of Abominations. Unable to overcome the sentiment in favor of protection in Congress, Vice-President Calhoun formulated his doctrine of Nullification. According to this theory, any state might forbid the operation within its limits of any act of Congress which in its opinion did not accord with the Federal Constitution. Although rumors of South Carolina's advocacy of Nullification were current, the doctrine was never presented in Congress until a Land Bill was debated in 1830.

This measure which proposed to cease temporarily, the marketing of public land, was strenuously opposed by members of Congress from the Western States. Mr. Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, was quick to note this lack of agreement between the West and the East, and he attempted to use the difference of opinion for the benefit of his own state. He proposed that the South and West unite their forces in Congress to secure desired legislation. The South was to get a lower tariff and the West was to obtain legislation that would facilitate the marketing of public land. In furthering this plan he eulogized South Carolina and attacked New England from many points of view. In particular he criticized the tariff legislation favored by New England and, in the course of his discussion, set forth for the first time a full exposition of Calhoun's doctrine of Nullification.

The day following Hayne's speech, Webster, then in his first term as senator from Massachusetts, made his famous reply. He had had only the intervening night in which to make formal preparation, but he never spoke to better advantage. In clearness and dignity of language, and in force of argument, his speech is unsurpassed. His words, as Lodge says, which rang out in 1830 in the Senate Chamber have come down through the long years of political conflict and civil war and at last have become part of the political creed of every one of his countrymen. He expressed what

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