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IN the month of May of the present year (1851), the New York and Erie Railroad was completed, and its entire length thrown open to the public, from Pyrmont on the North River to Dunkirk on Lake Erie, a distance of nearly five hundred miles. Great preparations were made to celebrate this important event, along the line of the railroad, and at its termination on Lake Erie. The President of the United States (a citizen of the western part of the State of New York) and the members of his Cabinet were invited to be present. Their reception, both at the city of New York and along the line of the railroad, was cordial and enthusiastic. At Dunkirk, Mr. Webster was detained by the illness of his son, and was on that account compelled to separate himself from the rest of the party.
On his arrival at Buffalo, the citizens of that place, without distinction of party, invited him to a public dinner. They also requested him to address the public in the Park. Similar invitations were tendered to him at Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and other places through which he passed on his return to New York. From the numerous speeches delivered by him on these occasions, those at Buffalo and Albany have been selected as containing the fullest exposition of Mr. Webster's views on the important subjects which have engaged the public mind during the current year.
It may be mentioned as a circumstance strongly indicating the earnest wish on the part of the people to hear Mr. Webster, that, though the day appointed for the public address was extremely unfavorable, the citizens of Buffalo earnestly requested that the proposed meeting should not be given up. Although it rained steadily for the whole time that Mr. Webster was speaking, the audience, of which a considerable part were ladies, showed no disposition to disperse, but listened to the orator throughout with a fixed attention, interrupted only by continual bursts of applause.
PUBLIC DIN NER AT BUFFALO.”
MR. MAYor, AND FELLow-Citizens of THE CITY of BUFFAlo, I know that, in regard to the present condition of the country, you think as I think, that there is but one all-absorbing question, and that is the preservation of this Union. If I have strength, I propose to say something to you and your fellowcitizens on that subject to-morrow. In this social interview and intercourse, Gentlemen, I would not aspire to such a lofty, allimportant theme. I desire, rather, on this occasion, to address you as citizens of Buffalo, many of whom I have had the pleasure of seeing in former times; many of whom belong to the generation which has grown up since I was first here; but with all of whom I feel a sympathy for the great prosperity which has distinguished their city, and the fair prospect which Providence holds out before them. Gentlemen, I have had the pleasure of being in the good city of Buffalo three times before this visit. I came here in 1825, with my family, accompanied by Mr. Justice Story and his family. We came mainly to see that all attractive neighbor of yours, the Falls of Niagara. I remember it was said, at that time, there were twenty-five hundred people in Buffalo. Even that was startling, because it was fresh in my recollection when it was only a waste, and when, as a member of Congress, I was called upon to ascertain the value of certain houses which were destroyed in the war of 1812. I came here afterwards, Gentlemen, in 1833. Your city then had been enlarged, manufactures were coming into existence, prosperity had begun. I had the pleasure of addressing you or your fathers, or both, in the park, and I remember I was told, among other things, that I might say, with safety, that there were fifteen or eighteen steamboats on Lake Erie. I remember another thing, Gentlemen, with great satisfaction, and I hope some parties to that transaction are here. The mechanics of Buffalo did me the great honor of tendering to me a present of an article of furniture, made from a great, glorious black-walnut tree, which grew to the south of us. They signified their desire to make a table out of that walnuttree, and send it to me. The table was made, and I accepted it, of course, with great pleasure. When I left here in July, the tree was standing; and in about five weeks there was an elegant table, of beautiful workmanship, sent to my house, which was then in Boston. When I went to Marshfield it followed me to the sea-side, and there it stands now, in the best room in my house, and there it will stand as long as I live, and I hope as long as the house shall stand. I take this occasion to reiterate my thanks for that beautiful present. I am proud to possess it; I am proud to show it; I am proud in all the recollections that it suggests. I was again in Buffalo some fourteen years ago, on my return from the West. That, I think, was in July also. I left the seacoast in May. It was soon after the termination of General Jackson's administration, and the commencement of Mr. Van Buren's. I travelled by the way of the Pennsylvania Railroad and canals, and so on to the Ohio; and I was on the Ohio River, I think, at Wheeling, on the 25th of May, when we heard of the failure of all the banks, the breaking up of all the credit of the country, and Mr. Van Buren's proclamation for an extra session of Congress. That rather hastened our progress. I went by the way of Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois, and had the pleasure of seeing my fellow-citizens of Buffalo on my return. Now, Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to say, that between that time and the present the population of your city has augmented at least one half; and here is Buffalo, a city of fifty thousand inhabitants. It is, undoubtedly, one of the wonders of the age and of this country. I enjoy it, Gentlemen, with a degree of pleasure inferior only to your own, because we are of the same country, because we participate in the same destiny, and because we are bound to the same fate for good or evil. All that is my interest
* A Speech delivered at a Public Dinner at Buffalo, on the 21st of May, 1851