Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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January 18th
“Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable! ”
January 18 is the birthday of Daniel Webster, born in 1782 in Salisbury (now Franklin), New Hampshire, and remembered as one of the greatest orators of his day. Perhaps his grandest moment came in January 1830, a time of growing discord between North and South. Webster, representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, rose to dispute an argument by Robert Hayne of South  Carolina, who asserted that states had greater sovereignty than the federal government – an argument that implied that states were free to secede if they wished. Webster’s passionate but reasoned defense of the Union is considered one of the greatest speeches in the Senate’s history. Generations of schoolchildren memorized the closing words of his address:

When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterwards”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!
American History Parade
1782
Statesman and orator Daniel Webster is born in Salisbury, New Hampshire.

1911
The first landing of an aircraft on a ship takes place aboard the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor.

1919
The post–World War I peace conference begins in Paris, ultimately resulting in the Treaty of Versailles, which sets the terms for the end of the war.

1966
Robert C. Weaver becomes the first black cabinet member as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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