Date of this Version
Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1821.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ Landing at Plymouth Rock, Daniel Webster (1782–1852), former congressman and future senator and secretary of state, delivered this long discourse to the assembled members of the Pilgrim Society. Always the consummate New Englander, Webster sketched 200 years of American history, surveyed the present era, and projected grand future prospects for a nation barely 40 years old, but with deep roots in Reformed Protestant values and English constitutionalism. Underlying all was his belief that “The character of their political institutions was determined by the fundamental laws respecting property.” Webster’s stories highlight the political, economic, intellectual, and moral contributions of the New England migrants and their progeny. His account of their enterprise makes them the ancestors of American democracy and dramatizes the concerns that shaped national politics in the decades before the Civil War.