| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
 DANIEL WEBSTER was born on a farm in New Hampshire. He was the youngest of a family of ten children, and, as a child, was
frail and delicate. For this reason, he was much petted by his parents and brothers and sisters, and was
allowed to run free in the forests and fields near his home, in the hope that this freedom and exercise would
bring him strength of body.
His mother and sisters taught him to read. In after years, he said he could not remember the time when he
could not read the Bible. He had a very retentive memory.
His voice was musical, and when he read aloud, he gave great pleasure to those who heard him. Often, the men
who came to his father's mill would get him to read to them while they waited for their meal to be ground.
Sometimes the farmers, passing the house where he lived, stopped for an hour or two to rest their horses, and
then they always sent for the boy, and generally they would say, "Daniel, read us something from the Bible."
Daniel had a brother, named Ezekiel, two years
 older than himself, of whom he was very fond. This brother always watched over the delicate boy, and kept him
from too much exertion. The father told Ezekiel to let Daniel help him, especially in the light work of the
farm. Once, the boys' father returned home from a trip, and asked Ezekiel what he had been doing.
"Nothing, sir," replied the boy.
The father then asked Daniel what he had been doing.
"I have been helping Zeke, sir," said Daniel, with a smile.
One day, when Daniel was at the village store, he saw a handkerchief for sale, on which was printed a copy of
the Constitution of the United States. He resolved to be the owner of that handkerchief, and saved enough
pennies to buy it. When at last he bought it, he did not rest until he had learned the whole great document by
heart. In after years, he became its most able exponent and defender.
Webster's father was poor, and with but little learning himself. He was wise enough, however, to know the
value of education. He told his son he intended to send him to college. Webster was so anxious to go that, for
a moment, he could not speak for emotion. He afterwards said, "A warm
 glow ran all over me, and I laid my head on my father's shoulder and wept."
He became one of the greatest orators this country has produced, but, at first, he was much frightened when he
stood before an audience. At school the boys made fun of him and of his clothes. Such ridicule caused him to
He said of this time, "Many a piece did I commit to memory, and rehearse it in my room over and over again.
But when the day came, and all my companions were on hand, gazing at me, and I was required to stand before
them, I was so frightened that I could not utter a word."
After leaving college, Webster began his law career in his native state. He moved to Boston later on, where he
built up a large practice. He was soon called into political life, and spent thirty years in the service of
his state. He was a close student of the Constitution, an orator of tremendous force, and a profound thinker
on all political questions of his day.
Webster overcame the weakness of his boyhood days, and grew into a vigorous man. His appearance was noble,
sturdy, and dignified. His eyes were dark, and his brow was massive. People said, "When Webster walks the
streets of Boston, he makes the buildings look small." Once he
 visited Europe, and some one, passing him in the street, remarked, "Surely, there goes a king." A great wit,
looking at his dignified appearance, declared, "He is a small cathedral by himself." Some one else said, "I
hardly believe any man can be as great as Mr. Webster looks."
He is best known for his wonderful oration in defense of the powers of the Constitution to maintain an
unbroken union of the states. A great debate was held in the Senate of the United States on the subject, and
against Webster was Robert Y. Hayne, of South Carolina, who spoke on the right of a state to declare null and
void within its borders any act passed by Congress.
Hayne made a great argument, and Webster replied to him the next day. He had but one night for preparation,
but he remarked to a friend, "That is enough. All my life I have been making ready for this occasion." On the
morning of his reply, he said, "The people shall learn this day, before the sun goes down, what I understand
the Constitution to be."
When he spoke, the galleries were crowded, the senators were all in their places, and every one realized a
crisis was at hand. Webster took four hours, delivering one of the greatest speeches of his life.
 At the laying of the corner-stone of Bunker Hill monument, he delivered another great oration. Thousands of
persons were present, and the crowd pressed forward so eagerly that they came near carrying away the platform
on which the speakers were sitting.
Webster appealed to them to stand back. "We cannot, Mr. Webster," they cried; "it is impossible."
"Impossible!" thundered the great orator, "I tell you that nothing is impossible on Bunker Hill."
The people, moved by his eloquent words, rolled back like waves from the shore.
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