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In the month of May, 1847, Mr. Webster made a visit to the Southern Atlantic States. He was everywhere, on his route, received with great respect and cordiality; and was hospitably entertained at Richmond, Charleston, Columbia, Augusta, and Savannah. His intention was to go as far as New Orleans, and to return to the North by way of the Mississippi. Unfortunately he was taken ill at Augusta, in Georgia, and was thus prevented from continuing his journey beyond that place.
Short speeches were made by Mr. Webster at the several public receptions attended by him. They were rendered peculiarly interesting by the unusual nature of such an occurrence as the visit of a highly distinguished New England statesman to the South, and the enthusiasm with which he was everywhere welcomed. No full notes, however, of his addresses appear to have been taken on any of these occasions, and in most cases a very brief summary is all that remains.
Of his speech at a public dinner at Richmond, on the 29th of April, no report whatever, it is believed, has been preserved. In addition to his remarks on this occasion, in acknowledgment of a toast complimentary to himself, Mr. Webster rose, when the memory of Chief Justice Marshall was proposed, and pronounced impromptu a brief eulogy upon the great jurist, which appears to have been of the most brilliant character. “We have never," says the editor of a Richmond journal, “ had the pleasure of listening to a more finished specimen of Ciceronian eloquence. A gentleman, whose taste and acquirements entitle his opinions to the utmost respect, remarked to us, that not Burke nor Sheridan could have been more felicitious, in giving utterance to thoughts that breathe and words that burn.” Unfortunately, no report of these remarks was given to the public.
On receiving intelligence of his intended visit to Charleston, a number of the most respectable citizens of that place were appointed a committee to wait upon Mr. Webster on his arrival, and tender him a public welcome to the city. It took place on the 7th of May. On the following day a brilliant entertainment was given to him by the New
England Society. On the 10th he partook of a public entertainment by invitation of the Charleston Bar. On the 12th he was received with great distinction by the faculty and students of the College of South Carolina, at Columbia. On the 17th he arrived at Augusta, in Georgia, where a public reception of the most flattering kind awaited him. Here, however, he became so much indisposed, as to be compelled to with. draw himself from the projected hospitalities of the citizens, as well as to forego the prosecution of his tour. On the 24th of May he was sufficiently recovered to proceed to Savannah, in which place, on the 26th, a public reception took place in Monument Square, at the base of the monument to Greene and Pulaski. On this occasion a very interesting address was made to Mr. Webster on behalf of the citizens of Savan. nah, by Mr. Justice Wayne, of the Supreme Court of the United States. From Savannah Mr. Webster returned to Charleston, and immediately took passage in a steamer for the North.
In connection with the speeches made by Mr. Webster, as far as they have been preserved, it has been thought that some of those made by other gentlemen, on the occasions just named, would be found interest. ing by the readers of these volumes, particularly in the present state of public affairs in reference to the relations between the South and the North. They have accordingly been given, as far as was practicable, with those of Mr. Webster.
ARRIVAL AT CHARLESTON.*
The Hon. Daniel Webster arrived in this city yesterday morning, and took lodgings at the Charleston Hotel. At 12 o'clock, M., he was waited on by the Committee of Reception, consisting of the following gentlemen, viz. Messrs. F. H. Elmore, D. E. Huger, James L. Petigru, William Aiken, H. A. Desaussure, Henry Gourdin, J. B. Campbell, Francis K. Huger, B. F. Hunt, J. B. Legare, R. Yeadon, John S. Ashe, I. W. Hayne, Dr. John B. Irving, and Alexander Black.
The Committee conducted Mr. Webster to the spacious piazza or balcony of the hotel, which was thronged with ladies and citizens, gathered (as was also a large crowd of citizens in the street fronting the hotel) to give the distinguished guest a hearty welcome to the hospitalities of Charleston. Mr. Webster was there addressed as follows, by the Hon. Franklin H. Elmore, Chairman of the Committee of Reception:
“SIR, — As representatives of our fellow-citizens of Charleston, we wait upon you to tender their welcome and good wishes. Having heard that it was your intention to pass through their city, in a tour through the Southern States, undertaken to obtain, by personal observation, a better knowledge of their people, pursuits, and interests, the citizens of Charleston, laying aside all differences of political opinion, in a common desire to further your wishes and to render your visit agreeable, assembled, and unanimously delegated to us the pleasing duty of expressing to you the great satisfaction they experience in thus meeting you in their homes. Although they well know there are essential differences of opinion between a great majority of them and yourself and the great Commonwealth of which you are the trusted and distinguished representative in the councils of the nation, yet, on this occasion, they remember
* Abridged from the Charleston Courier of the 8th of May, 1847. VOL. II.