In the golden age of American political oratory, no one was closer to being the gold standard than Daniel Webster. When he died on October 24, 1852, The New York Times soberly predicted that “the name of Webster” would be “as much identified” with the American Republic “as that of Demosthenes with Greece, and Cicero with Rome,” and a Supreme Court Justice added, “I think the name of Webster is greater than either.” And for once, the postmortem applause was not wrong. If “Godlike Daniel” (a nickname he earned in 1826 for a eulogy he delivered in Boston after the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) is remembered today for anything, it is for his oratory—for the Dartmouth College case (“It is, sir, as I have said, a small college,—and yet there are those who love it”), for the Second Reply to South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne (“Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable”), even for the Seventh of March speech, which broke a storm of obloquy over his head (“Mr. President, I wish to speak today, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American.… Hear me for my cause”). In time, Webster’s eloquence became American rhetoric personified, as in these lines from a poem that ran in Life magazine in 1932:

Dan Webster stoked his boilers with brown jugs of apple

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