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The annual election in the autumn of 1843 was conducted with great spirit in Massachusetts. Large conventions came together in several of the counties of the Commonwealth. Among them, that which met at Andover on the 9th of November, composed of delegates from all the towns in Essex County, and attended by many persons from the neighboring parts of the State, was one of the largest and most animated. The presence of Mr. Webster had been requested by special invitation from a committee of the citizens of Andover, immediately charged with the arrangements for the day. He was accompanied by a large number of personal and political friends from Boston. The place of meeting was a sequestered dell of a circular form, partly surrounded and sheltered by the native forest, about a quarter of a mile from the village, where a platform had been erected in front of the amphitheatrical slope, which furnished accommodation to a very large audience.
The meeting was called to order by Hon. Stephen C. Phillips of Salem, on whose motion William Stevens, Esq., of Andover, was chosen to preside over the Convention. After a few appropriate remarks from the chair introducing the business of the day, Mr. Phillips addressed the Convention at considerable length and with great ability, and concluded by moving a series of resolutions, setting forth with much power the principles of the Whig party and the objects to be effected at the coming election. The concluding resolution was in the following terms: —
"Resolved, That while regarding ourselves as especially engaged in the defence of the Constitution, we welcome on this occasion the muchdesired presence of the great Defender; that we submit to his hands the responsible task of repelling all open or insidious attacks upon this palladium of our rights; and that we shall rejoice once more to hear from his lips the counsels of wisdom and the exhortations of patriotism."
After the enthusiastic cheering had subsided with which this rcsolu
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tion had been received, Mr. Webster was introduced to the meeting and delivered the following speech. The Rev. Professor Stuart, of the Theological Seminary at Andover, having taken an active part in all the arrangements of the day, the pamphlet edition of the Speech was dedicated to him by Mr. Webster in the following letter.*
"Boston, November 13, 1843.
"My Dear Sir, — At the suggestion of friends, I have looked over the printed reports of my remarks at Andover, for the purpose of publication, in a pamphlet, with some of the papers and extracts which I read, or to which I referred, put into an Appendix.
"I doubt, my dear Sir, whether, at this season of the year, and under the circumstances, I should have gone to Andover to address a large collection of people, if a disposition to comply with your own personal wishes, so kindly expressed, had not formed a large part of the inducement.
"Will you allow me now, as a manifestation of my esteem and regard, to present the pamphlet in this public manner to you; and to avail myself of the opportunity for expressing the gratification which I feel in knowing, not only your intelligent and warm regard for the maintenance of the institutions of the country, but also, that amidst the duties of your chair, and the labor which you are known to bestow on the deeper studies belonging to your profession, you still find time to acquaint yourself extensively with its great and leading interests.
"To Rev. Professor Moses Stuart, Andover."
* The topics of this speech, and Mr. Webster's political course generally, were made the subject of two very able letters written by Professor Stuart and published about this time in a pamphlet form.