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In the month of May of the present year (1851), the New York and Erie Railroad was completed, and its entire length thrown open to the public, from Pyrmont on the North River to Dunkirk on Lake Erie, a distance of nearly five hundred miles. Great preparations were made to celebrate this important event, along the line of the railroad, and at its termination on Lake Erie. The President of the United States (a citizen of the western part of the State of New York) and the members of his Cabinet were invited to be present. Their reception, both at the city of New York and along the line of the railroad, was cordial and enthusiastic. At Dunkirk, Mr. Webster was detained by the illness of his son, and was on that account compelled to separate himself from the rest of the party.
On his arrival at Buffalo, the citizens of that place, without distinction of party, invited him to a public dinner. They also requested him to address the public in the Park. Similar invitations were tendered to him at Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and other places through which he passed on his return to New York. From the numerous speeches delivered by him on these occasions, those at Buffalo and Albany have been selected as containing the fullest exposition of Mr. Webster's views on the important subjects which have engaged the public mind during the current year.
It may be mentioned as a circumstance strongly indicating the earnest wish on the part of the people to hear Mr. Webster, that, though the day appointed for the public address was extremely unfavorable, the citizens of Buffalo earnestly requested that the proposed meeting should not be given up. Although it rained steadily for the whole time that Mr. Webster was speaking, the audience, of which a considerable part were ladies, showed no disposition to disperse, but listened to the orator throughout with a fixed attention, interrupted only by continual bursts of applause.
PUBLIC DINNER AT BUFFALO.*
Mr. Mayor, And Fellow-citizens Of The City Of Buffalo, I know that, in regard to the present condition of the country, you think as I think, that there is but one all-absorbing question, and that is the preservation of this Union. If I have strength, I propose to say something to you and your fellowcitizens on that subject to-morrow. In this social interview and intercourse, Gentlemen, I would not aspire to such a lofty, allimportant theme. I desire, rather, on this occasion, to address you as citizens of Buffalo, many of whom I have had the pleasure of seeing in former times; many of whom belong to the generation which has grown up since I was first here; but with all of whom I feel a sympathy for the great prosperity which has distinguished their city, and the fair prospect which Providence holds out before them. Gentlemen, I have had the pleasure of being in the good city of Buffalo three times before this visit. I came here in 1825, with my family, accompanied by Mr. Justice Story and his family. We came mainly to see that all attractive neighbor of yours, the Falls of Niagara. I remember it was said, at that time, there were twenty-five hundred people in Buffalo. Even that was startling, because it was fresh in my recollection when it was only a waste, and when, as a member of Congress, I was called upon to ascertain the value of certain houses which were destroyed in the war of 1812. I came here afterwards, Gentlemen, in 1833. Your city then had been enlarged, manufactures were coming into existence, prosperity had begun. I had the pleasure of address
\ * A Speech delivered at a Public Dinner at Buffalo, on the 21st of May, 1851