Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

Daniel Webster's Youth

Daniel Webster's father lived in central New Hampshire, at the time when miles of uninhabited forests lay between him and the nearest settlement in Canada. He took part in the French and Indian War, and when the Revolution began went to serve at Boston. He also took part in the famous fight at Bennington, and the night after Arnold's flight from West Point Washington chose him to mount guard over his tent, saying: "Captain Webster, I believe I can trust you."



As a child, Daniel Webster was very delicate. Hoping to do him good, his mother once took him to the seashore, making the long journey on one of the old farm horses, with her sick boy in her arms.

Although not strong enough to work on the farm like his eleven brothers and sisters, Daniel learned to read before he was five, and went to the village school, where he was the brightest pupil. His memory was so good that when the schoolmaster once offered a jackknife as a prize to the scholar who learned the most Bible verses, he recited chapter after chapter. Indeed, the teacher cried "enough," and gave him his reward long before he had said all he knew!

Daniel Webster was so fond of reading that he borrowed all the books he could, and learned them by heart. Besides, he carefully saved up his few pennies to buy a handkerchief on which was printed the Constitution of the United States, and committed that to memory, too. When told to watch the saw in his father's mill, he used to set it going, and read while the work went slowly on, instead of playing or fishing, as did most boys of his age.

When Daniel had learned all the village schoolmaster could teach him, his father made a great effort, and sent him first to Exeter Academy and then to Dartmouth College. He studied hard in both places, for he knew he must make the best of his opportunities.

Daniel was, besides, very quick-witted. Once, when he and an older brother were out driving together, they found the road completely blocked by a heavily laden cart. Ezekiel, who was large and strong, fancied they would have to wait until the teamster came back with men to help him; but Daniel cried: "Come, we can start this team. You put your shoulder to the hind wheel, and I will mount the near horse." Ezekiel obeyed, and the team, thus encouraged, drew the load up to the top of the hill, where the road was wide enough to let the Websters drive past. They were almost out of sight when the teamster came back with the help he no longer needed.

Like most New England country people of that time, the Websters made their own garments from the wool of their sheep. Once, on his way to college, the sleigh in which Daniel was riding broke through the ice while they were crossing a stream, and the young man was drenched To keep from freezing, he ran behind the sleigh until he came to a farmhouse, where he went to bed so that his clothes could be dried. On undressing, he was at first greatly alarmed to find his body dark blue; but after a while he discovered, as he quaintly said, that "the contents of my mother's dye pot were left on my body instead of my clothes."

Daniel was very kind and brotherly, and taught school for a while to help Ezekiel through college. Then he began to study law, although an old farmer had advised him to become a conjurer, saying he could earn a great deal of motley by telling people where to find the things they had lost, or by telling fortunes.

His family was so poor that it seemed at one time as if he would have to give up his studies to accept a position offered him. But the lawyer with whom he was studying said: "Go on and finish your studies. You are poor enough, but there are worse evils than poverty. Live on no man's favor; what bread you do eat, let it be the bread of independence. Pursue your profession, make yourself useful to your friends and a little formidable to your enemies, and you have nothing to fear."

Daniel Webster took this advice, finished his studies, and went to Portsmouth to practice law. Although far from rich, he was generous. One night, while walking home very late, he saw a poor woman steal the boards he had laid down in front of his house as a walk. He followed her home, and seeing that she was in great need, sent her a load of wood the next day.