Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Prophetic Visions on the Fourth of July

Dartmouth Gazette article on 1800 July Fourth celebrations in HanoverIn 1800, Dartmouth students celebrated the Fourth of July in patriotic fashion. They formed a procession and marched to the President's house where they were joined by the officers of the College and members of the community. This group then paraded to the meeting house for the Reverend Professor Smith's "Address to the Throne of Grace." But then the real fireworks began when a member of the junior class rose to give his spirited oration. George Washington had died just six months earlier and, after mourning his loss, the orator expounded on the virtues of the new nation built on a strong foundation of liberty, reason and science, vowing that "Columbia stoops not to tyrants."

With all of the hyperbole of a small town newspaper, The Dartmouth Gazette reported on the day's speaker with glowing praise:
The Oration, although composed on very short notice, would have done honor to grey headed patriotism, and crowned with new laurels the most celebrated orator of our country.
Wow, a junior in college the most celebrated orator in the county? It turns out it was a prophetic moment for the Gazette: the orator was young Daniel Webster who would indeed become the most celebrated orator of his generation!

You can read his oration (you have to imagine his fiery delivery) by asking for DC Hist E286.H24. To see the newspaper account, ask for DC Hist LH1 .D3D255 Vol. 1.