1. Introduction
  2. The Road to Dartmouth
  3. Scholarly Pursuits
  4. Writings and Speeches
  5. Room and Board
  6. Friendships
  7. The United Fraternity
  8. Phi Beta Kappa
  9. The Dartmouth Gazette
  10. Political Activity
  11. Commencement
  12. Conclusion
  13. A Note on Sources

Charles Lanman served as Webster's private secretary in his later years. In his reminiscences of Daniel Webster, he relates a story of Daniel Webster just after his graduation:
I spent the night, and was about to leave the next morning, when [John] Hanson said to me, --

"Well, Daniel, you are about to graduate. You've got through college, and have got college larnin', - and now, what are you going to do with it?"

I told him I had not decided on a profession.

"Well," said he, "you are a good boy; your father was a kind man to me, and was always kind to the poor. I should like to do a kind turn for him and his. You've got through college; and people that go through college either become ministers, or doctors, or lawyers. As for bein' a minister, I would never think of doin' that: they never get paid any thing. Doctorin' is a miserable profession; they live upon other people's ailin's, are up nights, and have no peace. And as for bein' a lawyer, I would never propose that to anybody. Now," said he, "Daniel, I'll tell you what! You are a boy of parts; you understand this book-larnin', and you are bright. I knew a man who had college larnin' down in Rye, where I lived when I was a boy. That man was a conjurer; he could tell, by consultin' his books, and study, if a man had lost his cow, where she was. That was a great thing; and if people lost any thing, they would think nothin' of payin' three or four dollars to a man like that, so as to find their property. There is not a conjurer within a hundred miles of this place; and you are a bright boy, and have got this college larnin'. The best thing you can do, Daniel, is to study that, and be a conjurer!" (Lanman 20-1).

We can be thankful that Mr. Webster did not follow that particular course of action.

Daniel Webster's Dartmouth education would serve him well as he embarked upon a career in law and politics which would lead him to become one of the greatest statesmen in American history. As this exhibit has shown, Daniel Webster was one of those students who certainly worked hard in his studies, but sought fame among his peers more than he sought approval from authority. In living with his peers at Dartmouth and in achieving prominence among them, he was rehearsing for the role he would play in his life. Beginning from humble origins, he worked assiduously on improving himself until he was superior to those around him. By his junior year, he was recognized as the best orator at the school and it's best scholar, although not the first-ranked. He commanded respect, and yet maintained ties of close friendship. He did not place himself above those around him; he let them elevate him.

And Dartmouth students to this day continue to elevate Daniel Webster. The men and women of Dartmouth ought to recognize that he deserves their praise not only for his part in the Dartmouth College Case and for the distinguished career which followed, but even for the four short years he spent at Dartmouth. At Dartmouth, he made the transformation from a meek, humble boy who could not stand to give a declamation, to the patriotic orator who would speak before the entire town of Hanover. The seeds had been planted in his youth at Salisbury. They began to bud at Dartmouth, and flourished throughout his life. Dartmouth is the place where Little Black Dan fully and truly began to become DANIEL WEBSTER.

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