The interest which he was now attracting to himself was very marked; and as he more and more came to be talked about, and men were turning to him in increasing numbers, I had with the rest a strong desire to see and hear him. Well do I recall my delight in finding him present at the primary meeting, Sept. 15, 1847, and at seeing him in obedience to the clamorous demands of the young, intelligent, and liberty-loving ‘Conscience Whigs’ who surrounded him, rise front his seat among the audience and with resolute strides advance towards the platform, apparently to the dismay of the fine but hostile old gentlemen who had pre-empted the spot, but who were now dwarfed in comparison, and seemed to shrine into the background. He was most enthusiastically applauded; and as he mounted the dais and stood before us all with his magnificent form, and all aglow with the fire of youthful manhood and the lore of freedom, voicing with stirring eloquence the noblest truths and sentiments, and parrying with ready skill and resistless vigor the rude thrusts that were aimed at him from right and left to embarrass and confound him, it was sufficiently evident that the hour had found its man and the main his hour.The convention was held at Springfield, September 29. A contest as to the platform between the two sections of the party, similar to that of the preceding year, was expected. Palfrey, recently elected to Congress, was ready with a resolution prepared in consultation with Adams, Sumner, and others, which proposed a test of political action. Webster was present, to be formally named as a candidate for the Presidency, and to state his position on national politics. In the course of his speech he affirmed his opposition to any extension of the slave-power, and to any annexation which would increase slave representation; but he showed unmistakably his want of sympathy with those who were striving to commit the party to definite antislavery action, particularly in certain passages understood at the time to apply to them, in which he expressed himself against violent words and actions; and asserting his own early adhesion to the principle of prohibiting slavery in the territories, he repudiated the right of others ‘to take out a patent’ for it, or to claim it as ‘their thunder.’1
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