Guest Columnist; The Wisdom of Daniel Webster

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By Tim Norris

Tim Norris

Some believe Daniel Webster was one of the five greatest Senators in U.S. history, his statue stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, placed there by the State of New Hampshire.  His career spanned almost four decades, serving as Secretary of State for Presidents William Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore. He attended Dartmouth College, the 9th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Dartmouth was founded in 1769 by the Great Awakening preacher Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, with a mission to “educate Native Americans in the Christian faith and train Congregationalist Christian ministers.”

You might wonder if Daniel was related to Noah Webster, the founder of the Webster’s Dictionary. They were not related but both were involved in our country’s growth at about the same time in history and both were big believers in the Constitution of the United States, universal education and the abolition of slavery. He dedicated himself to suppressing the African slave trade, stating: “Traffic in Slaves is irreconcilable with the principles of humanity and justice… “The African slave-trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt …If there be … any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here… extirpate and destroy it …

The U.S. Capitol Building has preserved the wisdom of Webster in a series of quotes, on display, even today: “Liberty and union, one and inseparable…..   One Country, one Constitution, one destiny….. “Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests and see whether we also in our day and generation may not perform something worthy to be remembered…

“We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.”

On December 22nd, 1820 at the Bicentennial Celebration of the Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, Secretary of State Daniel Webster is recorded as saying: “We are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed; made their first lodgement, ……when they landed upon the rock.. in the language of our fathers… “if God prosper us… we shall here begin a work which shall last for ages … We shall fill this region of the great continent … with civilization and Christianity…Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”

We must strengthen ourselves….. with new resolution … in the support of the Constitution, prepare to meet … whatever of difficulty, or .. Are we of this generation so derelict, have we so little of the blood of our revolutionary fathers coursing through our veins, that we cannot preserve, what they achieved?

The world will cry out ‘shame’ upon us, if we show ourselves unworthy, to be the descendants of those great and illustrious men, who fought for their liberty, and secured it to their posterity, by the Constitution of the United States …

Webster concluded: “The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed … They have hot heads and cold hearts. They are rash, reckless, and fierce for change, and with no affection for the existing institutions of their country….

We may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country…BUT if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution, which holds us together, No man can tell, how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”

Tim Norris, a long-time Panhandle resident is past Chairman of the Walton County Republican Party and is the current Republican Party of Florida’s State Committeeman for Walton County. Tim Resides in Santa Rosa Beach with his wife Nancy. The couple have 3 daughters, Calli, Hannah and Piper. 

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