Oration at Hanover, N.H. (July 4, 1800)
Webster's first notable public address, given in celebration of the Fourth of July. Webster was
invited to address the public by the town of Hanover while still a Dartmouth student of only 18
years of age. Webster invokes the memory of George Washington, who had died earlier that year.
Peroration, The Dartmouth College Case (March 10, 1818)
Webster in 1818, defending the College he loved. Webster's closing argument does not survive; What is known of the text comes
from notes taken by Chauncey A. Goodrich, a Yale professor observing Webster's argument. His notes of
the peroration quote Webster at length and also include an account of the emotion Webster invested in this case.
The Plymouth Oration (December 22, 1820)
At a speech commemorating the anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock, Webster propounds the
intricate relationship between property rights and the foundation of a republican nation. He also uses this
address as an opportunity to denounce the African slave-trade.
The Bunker Hill Monument (June 17, 1825)
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Webster paints a vivid verbal picture of the Battle.
He extolls the virtues of representative government, stating America's role as an example to the world and
reminds the audience of the responsibility that is being handed down to them by
the remaining few of the Revolution.
Adams and Jefferson (August 2, 1826)
Webster speaks at the momentous occasion of the funeral of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom died on the 50th
anniversary of the Union. Webster praises Jefferson and the Declaration. He then offers an analysis of Adams,
including a representation of words that Adams might have spoken at the Congress of the Revolution. These words were,
indeed, so stirring that one might believe Adams himself had spoken them.
The Second Reply to Hayne (January 26-27, 1830)
Webster counters Senator Robert Hayne's claims of South Carolina's right of annullment in a speech mainly directed
at Vice-President John C. Calhoun. He offers a brilliant summary of the complicated notion of federalism and establishes
forever the link between "Liberty and Union..."
The Seventh of March Speech (March 7, 1850)
Webster begins this speech by offering his support for the Fugitive Slave Law. Although his Constitutional argument is logical
and compelling, this position was a controversial one which cost Webster any hope he might have had of achieving the Presidency.
The rest of this address is a passionate call for Union in a time when "peacable secession" was being offered by Southern states as an
alternative to the Union's problems.
The Dignity and Importance of History (February 23, 1852)
Addressing the Historical Society of New York, Webster describes the value of embellishment and ornamentation
in making history "interesting and instructive," so long as it is built upon a foundation of truth. He
then explains the need for greater exploration of the realm of social history, calling for a "history of
firesides." He ends with a final call for Union, that America may never be described as having a Decline and Fall.
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