Mr. Webster's Speeches: At Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, May, 1851 (Classic Reprint)by Daniel Webster
Gentlemen, believe me, I know where I am. I know to whom I am speaking. I know for whom I am speaking. I know I am here in this singularly prosperous and powerful section of the United States, Western New York, and I know the character of the men who constitute Western New York. I
Excerpt from Mr. Webster's Speeches: At Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, May, 1851
Gentlemen, believe me, I know where I am. I know to whom I am speaking. I know for whom I am speaking. I know I am here in this singularly prosperous and powerful section of the United States, Western New York, and I know the character of the men who constitute Western New York. I know they are sons of liberty, one and all; that they sucked in liberty with their mothers' milk; inherited it with their blood; that it is the subject of their daily contemplation and watchful thought. They are men of a very singular equality of condition, for a million and a half of people. There are thousands of men around us, and here before us, who till their own soils with their own hands; and others who earn their own livelihood by their own labor in the workshops, and other places of industry; and they are independent, in principle and in condition, having neither slaves nor masters, and not intending to have either. These are the men who constitute, to a great extent, the people of Western New York. But the school-houses I know are among them. Education is among them. They read, and write, and think. And here are women, educated, refined, and intelligent; and here are men who know the history of their country, and the laws of their country, and the institutions of their country; and men, lovers of liberty always, and yet lovers of liberty under the Constitution of the country, and who mean to maintain that Constitution with all their strength, so help them God. (Great applause.) I hope these observations will satisfy you that I know where I am, under what responsibility I speak, and before whom I appear; and I have no desire that any word I shall say this day, shall be withholden from you, or your children, or your neighbors, or the whole world; for I speak before you and before my country, and, if it be not too solemn to say so, before the great Author of all things.
Gentlemen, there is but one question in this country now; or if there be others, the others are but secondary, or so subordinate, that they are all absorbed in that great and leading question; and that is neither more nor less than this: Can we preserve the union of the States, not by coercion, not by military power, not by angry controversies; but can we of this generation, you and I, your friends and my friends, can we so preserve the union of these States, by such administration of the powers of the Constitution, as shall give content and satisfaction to all who live under it, and draw us together, not by military power, but by the silken cords of mutual, fraternal, patriotic affection? That is the question, and no other. Gentlemen, I believe in party distinctions. I am a party man. There are questions belonging to party, in which I am concerned, and there are opinions entertained by other parties, which I repudiate; but what of all that? If a house be divided against itself, it will fall, and crush everybody in it. We must see that we maintain the government which is over us. We must see that we uphold the Constitution, and we must do so without regard to party. Now, how did this question arise? The question is forever mis-stated. I dare say if you know much of me, or of my course of public conduct, for the last fourteen months, you have heard of my attending Union meetings, and of my fervent admonitions at Union meetings. Well, what was the object of those meetings? What was their purpose? The object and purpose have been designedly or thoughtlessly misrepresented. I had an invitation to attend a Union meeting in the county of Westchester; I could not go, but wrote a letter.
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