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Edward Everett
Edward Everett
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 Edward Everett (1794-1865), was an American statesman, educator, and orator, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard University and the University of Gottingen, Germany. Everett was the editor of the North American Review from 1820 until 1824. In 1825 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served for ten years. He was governor of Massachusetts from 1836 to 1840. The following year he was appointed U.S. Minister to Great Britain, returning to the U.S. in 1845 to beome president of Harvard University, a position he held from 1846 to 1849. Everett served as Secretary of State (1852-53) under President Millard Fillmore and as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts from 1853 to 1854. In 1860 he ran unsuccessfully for the vice-presidency on the ticket of the Constitutional Union party as the running mate of John Bell of Tennessee. His orations, including the one he delivered at Gettysburg just before Lincoln's Address, were published in four volumes (1850-92).


Frothingham, Paul Revere. Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925.

From Virtualology
 Brother to Alexander Hill Everett, Edward Everett was born in Dorchester. Massachusetts, 11 April 1794; died in Boston, 15 January 1865, entered Harvard (where he edited the " Harvard Lyceum ") in 1807, and was graduated with the highest honors in 1811. In 1813 he was settled as pastor over the Unitarian Church in Brattle square, Boston, succeeding the Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckminster, and soon attracted attention by his eloquence, especially by his sermon delivered in the hall of the House of Representatives, Washington, in February 1820. " The sermon was truly splendid," wrote Judge Joseph Story, "and was heard with a breathless silence. The audience was very large, and, being in that magnificent apartment of the House of Representatives, it had vast effect. I saw Mr. King, of New York, and Mr. Otis, of Massachusetts, there. They were both very much affected with Mr. Everett's sermon; and Mr. Otis, in particular, wept bitterly. There were some very stirring appeals to our most delicate feelings on the loss of our friends. Indeed, Mr. Everett was almost universally admired as the most eloquent of preachers. Mr. King told me he never heard a discourse so full .of unction, eloquence, and good taste."

After his graduation Mr. Everett was Latin tutor at Harvard, and in 1814 he was chosen to fill the newly formed chair of Greek literature, to qualify himself for which he spent more than four years (from the spring of 1815 to the autumn of 1819) in Europe, studying for two years in the University of G6ttingen. " Edward Everett," remarks Abraham Hayward in his sketch of " American Orators and Statesmen," in the "London Quarterly Review" for December 1840, "is one of the most remarkable men living .... At nineteen he had already acquired the reputation of an accomplished scholar, and was drawing large audiences as a Unitarian preacher. At twenty-one (the age at which Roger Ascham achieved a similar distinction) he was appointed professor of Greek in Harvard University, and soon afterward he made a tour of Europe, including Greece. M. Cousin, who was with him in Germany, informed a friend of ours that he was, one of the best Grecians he ever knew, and the translator of Plato must have known a good many of the best. On his return from his travels he lectured on Greek literature with the enthusiasm and success of another Abelardwe hope without the Heloise."

Before his departure for Europe, Mr. Everett had given a striking proof of his wide reading and critical powers in answering a volume entitled " the Grounds of Christianity Examined," by George B. English (Boston, 1813). Mr. Everett convicts English of dishonesty in his assertions, and of plagiarism from Evanson, Collins, Toland, Sember, Priestley, Rabbi Isaac, and Orobio. About ninety-four pages are borrowed from other writers, while English credits other authors with twenty-four pages only. In 1819 Mr. Everett returned home and entered upon the duties of the Greek professorship. In addition to his regular duties he published a translation of Buttman's Greek grammar, and a Greek reader based upon that of Jacobs. He became editor of the "North American Review" in January 1820, and in the next four years contributed to its pages about fifty papers, to which are to be added sixty more written while the "Review" was under the management of his brother Alexander and his successors.

In May 1822, Mr. Everett married Charlotte Gray, a daughter of Peter Chardon Brooks, whose biography he wrote. In 1824 Mr. Everett was elected to congress from the Boston district, and sat in the House of Representatives for ten years, He took the side in politics maintained by the friends of President John Q. Adams, as a "National Republican" and "Whig"; but gave special attention to obtaining pensions for the survivors of the Revolution, and offered vigorous opposition to the removal of the Indians from Georgia in 1835, and for three successive years thereafter, he was elected governor of Massachusetts, and at the next election was defeated by only one vote out of more than 100,000.

In 1840 he made another journey to Europe, and while residing in London he was appointed, chiefly through the influence of Daniel Webster, minister to England. During his sojourn in that country he received the degree of D. C. L. from Oxford and that of LL.D. from Cambridge and Dublin. President Polk recalled him in 1845.
From 1846 till 1849 he was president of Harvard College, and on the death of Daniel Webster, in 1852, was appointed secretary of state. In 1853 he succeeded John Davis in the U. S. Senate. In the summer and autumn of this year he spoke on the Central American question, addressed the New York historical society on colonization and emigration, replied to Lord John Russell's protest against the doctrines of the U. S. government in the note declining the Tripartite convention, and spoke in opposition to the proposed new constitution in Massachusetts. On the assembling of congress in December 1853, although his health had been impaired by his labors, he continued them with such zeal and fidelity in the discussion of the bill to repeal the Missouri compromise, and other important measures of that session, that in the following May he was obliged to resign his seat.

In 1853 Miss Ann Pamela Cunningham originated a plan to purchase Mount Vernon by private subscription, in an address to the women of the United States, signed "A Southern Matron," and in this praiseworthy object she found an efficient advocate in Mr. Everett, who delivered in its behalf his oration on Washington, from 19 March 18,56, till June 1859 122 times with a result of more than $58,000. In the autumn of 1858 Mr. Everett contracted with Robert Bonnet, proprietor of the New York "Ledger," to furnish an article weekly for that paper for one year, in consideration of $10,000, to be paid in advance to the Mount Vernon fund. Mr. Everett also invited the readers of the "Ledger" to transmit each the sum of fifty cents or more toward the same object, and this appeal produced more that $3,000. On 22 December 1857, he delivered an address on charity and charitable associations for the benefit of the Boston provident association, which was repeated fifteen times, with receipts of about $13,500. On 17 January 1859, he delivered an address in Boston on the "Early Days of Franklin," which was repeated five times, yielding about $4,000 to various institutions. The receipts of these lectures were not less than $90,000. A notice of the " Life and Works of Daniel Webster," by Mr. Everett, is included in the collective edition of the works of the former (6 vols., Boston, 1852).

From his pen also came the "Life of General Stark," in Sparks's "American Biography," and several of the annual reports of the Massachusetts board of education. At the instance of Lord Macaulay, he contributed a life of Washington to the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" (published separately, New York, 1860). Mr. Everett had substantial claims to the character of a poet. His dirge of "Alaric the Visigoth " and the beautiful poem of "Santa Croce" are among the few compositions that the remembrance of schoolboy declamation can present without fear of rebuke to the maturer judgment of riper years. In addition to the "Defense of Christianity," already mentioned, and occasional addresses, official letters, reports, etc., Mr. Everett published "Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions" (Boston, 1836); " Importance of Practical Education and Useful Knowledge," a selection from his " Orations and other Discourses," published in 1836, originally prepared for the Massachusetts district school library at the request of the Board of education (New York, 1847); "Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions from 1826 to 1850" (2d ed., 2 vols., Boston, 1850; this edition includes all that were in the edition of 1836; 3d ed., 2 vols., 1853). These volumes contain eighty-one articles.

The third volume of Everett's "Orations and Speeches" (Boston, 1859) contains forty-six articles, and also a copious index to the contents of the three volumes. Volume IV. of the "Orations and Speeches " (Boston, 1859) contains fifty-nine articles. Those who would witness a remarkable illustration of the power of eloquence to transfuse life and beauty into the teachings of science, the lessons of history, the ethics of politics, and vicissitudes of letters, will not neglect to devote their "days and nights" to the orations of Edward Everett. The first oration that drew upon Mr. Everett the eyes of his countrymen at large was delivered at Cambridge before the Phi Beta Kappa society, 27 August 1824. The subject was, "The Circumstances Favorable to the Progress of Literature in America." When the youthful orator had excited to a painful pitch the feelings of the vast assemblage, he suddenly turned to the illustrious guest, Lafayette, who had seen so much of the rise and fall of human greatness, who had witnessed alike the destruction of a throne and the birth of a nation, and addressed him in an apostrophe never to be forgotten by auditor or reader.

Perhaps Mr. Everett's powers as an orator are nowhere displayed to greater advantage than in that passage in his Fourth of July address delivered at Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1855, in which he epitomizes, in a single eloquent paragraph, the far-reaching consequences of the battle of Lexington. He said: "On the 19th of April the all-important blow was struck; the blow which severed the fated chain whose every link was bolted by an act of parliament, whose every rivet was closed up by an order in council which bound to the wake of Europe the brave bark of our youthful fortune, destined henceforth and forever to ride the waves alone the blow which severed that fated chain was struck. The blow was struck which will be felt in its consequences to ourselves and the family of nations till the seventh seal is broken from the apocalyptic volume of the history of empires. The consummation of four centuries was completed. The lifelong hopes and heartsick visions of Columbus, poorly fulfilled in the subjugation of the plumed tribes of a few tropical islands, and the partial survey of the continent; cruelly mocked by the fetters placed upon his noble limbs by his own menial and which he carried with him into his grave, were at length more than fulfilled, when the new world of his discovery put on the sovereign robes of her separate national existence, and joined, for peace and for war, the great Panathenaic procession of the nations. The wrongs of generations were redressed. The cup of humiliation drained to the dregs by the old puritan confessors and nonconformist victims of oppression loathsome prisons, blasted fortunes, lips forbidden to open in prayer, earth and water denied in their pleasant native land, the separations and sorrows of exile, the sounding perils of the ocean, the scented hedgerows and vocal thickets of the ' old countrie' exchanged for a pathless wilderness ringing with the war whoop and gleaming with the scalping knife; the secular insolence of colonial rule, checked by no periodical recurrence to the public will; governors appointed on the other side of the globe that knew not Joseph ; the patronizing disdain of undelegated power ; the legal contumely of foreign law, wanting the first element of obligation, the consent of the governed expressed by his authorized representative ; and at length the last unutterable and burning affront and shame, a mercenary soldiery encamped upon the fair eminences of our cities, ships of war with springs on their cables moored in front of our crowded quays, artillery planted openmouthed in our principal Streets, at the doors of our houses of assembly, their morning and evening salvos proclaiming to the rising and the setting sun that we are the subjects and they the lords all these hideous phantoms of the long colonial night swept off by the first sharp volley on Lexington Green."

An eloquent review of Mr. Everett's orations, by Professor Cornelius C. Pelton, was published in the "North American Review" for October 1850, and an admirable analysis of his mental characteristics and oratorical style, by a distinguished critic, himself an orator of renown, George S. Hillard, will be found in the same periodical for January 1837. We give a brief extract from the latter: "The great charm of Mr. Everett's orations consists not so much in any single and strongly developed intellectual trait as in that symmetry and finish which, on every page, give token to the richly endowed and thorough scholar. The natural movements of his mind are full of grace; and the most indifferent sentence, which falls from his pen, has that simple elegance which it is as difficult to define, as it is easy to perceive. His level passages are never tame, and his fine ones are never superfine. His style, with matchless flexibility, rises and falls with his subject, and is alternately easy, vivid, elevated, ornamented, or picturesque, adapting itself to the dominant mood of the mind, as an instrument responds to the touch of a master's hand. His knowledge is so extensive and the field of his allusions so wide, that the most familiar views, in passing through his hands, gather such a hMo of luminous illustrations that their likeness seems transformed, and we entertain doubts of their identity."

In 1860, when secession was seriously threatened by South Carolina, Mr. Everett, against his own inclination (as he wrote to the author of this sketch), permitted his name to be used by the Constitution Union party as a candidate for the vice-presidency, John Bell, of Tennessee, being the candidate for president. They received thirty-nine electoral votes those of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. (See BELL, JOHN.)
During the civil war Mr. Everett labored zealously in detente of the Union, but posed to extend "eternal reconciliation toward those whom he wrong" and his last public service was one of humanity in behalf of southern sufferers by the conflict, at the meeting in Faneuil hall on Monday, 9 January 1865, for the relief of the peopie of Savannah. On his return home after a day of fatiguing engagements, he was obliged to summon his physician, and did not again leave his house. "We all remember him," remarks Daniel Webster, " some of us personally, myself, certainly, with great interest, in his deliberations in the congress of the United States, to which he brought such a degree of learning and ability and eloquence as few equaled and none surpassed. He administered, afterward, satisfactorily to his fellow citizens, the duties of the chair of the commonwealth. He then, to the great advantage of his country, went abroad. He was deputed to represent his government at the most important court of Europe, and he carried thither many qualities, most of them essential, and all of them ornamental and useful, to fill that high station. He had education and scholarship. He had a reputation at home and abroad. More than all, he had an acquaintance with the politics of the world, with the laws of this country and of nations, and with the history and policy of the countries of Europe. And how well these qualities enabled him to reflect honor upon the literature and character of his native land, not we only, but all the country and all the world, know. He has performed this career, and yet is at such a period of life that I may venture something upon the character and privilege of my countrymen when 1 predict that those who have known him long and know him now, those who have seen him and see him now, those who have heard him and hear him now, are very likely to think that his country has demands upon him for future efforts in its service."

It is pleasing to know that the cordial relations that united the hearts of these distinguished patriots were never disturbed by misunderstanding nor chilled by estrangement. To this gratifying truth we have the following testimony, which occurs in a letter from Webster to Everett, written about three months before the decease of the former: "We now and then see stretching across the heavens a clear, blue, cerulean sky, without cloud, or mist, or haze. And such appears to me our acquaintance from the time when I heard you for a week recite your lessons in the little schoolhouse in Short Street, to the date hereof " [21 July 1852]. Mr. Everett had long contemplated a work upon international law, and at the time of his death he was preparing a course of lectures on this theme, which he had "promised to deliver before the Dane Law School." But failing health, and the fatigue and excitement of travel arising from "much serving" in patriotic enterprises, prevented the completion of the greatly desired treatise. The accompanying illustration is a view of Mr. Everett's birthplace in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The house is supposed to have been built by Colonel Robert Oliver, about 1740.Another brother, John, born in Dorchester, Mass. 22 February 1801; died in Boston in 1826, was graduated at Harvard in 1818. At his graduation he delivered an oration on "Byron," and the year previous one on "The Poetry of the Oriental Nations" at a College exhibition. On 14 July 1818, he addressed the senior class on the "Prospects of the Young Men of America." Shortly after leaving College he accompanied President Holly to Lexington, Kentucky, where he became tutor in Transylvania University. While there he delivered an impromptu oration in the presence of Andrew Jackson, which was much praised. On returning to Massachusetts, Mr. Everett entered the Law School at Harvard, subsequently studied with Daniel Webster, and was called to the bar. Before completing his legal studies he visited Europe and for a brief period was connected with the American legation at Brussels and the Hague, where his elder brother, Alexander, was charge d'affaires. Mr. Everett's early death cut short a career that promised to be unusually brilliant. He possessed great facility in extemporaneous debate, and was a leader among the young men of Boston. His poetical abilities were also considerable, as is shown by his "Ode to St. Paul's Church," and by one written for the Washington society, and sung at Concert Hall, 4 July 1825.
He is the author of articles in "The North American Review," and delivered the oration before the Washington society on 4 July 1824.William, youngest son of Edward, educator, born in Watertown, Massachusetts, 10 October 1839, was graduated at Harvard in 1859, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, in 1863. He was tutor and assistant professor of Latin at Harvard from 1870 till 1877, receiving from that institution the degree of Ph. D. in classics in 1875. In 1878 he became master of Adams academy at Quincy, Massachusetts, where he still (1887) remains. He occasionally preaches, under a license from the Boston ministers' association, as a strongly conservative Unitarian. He has taken an active part in different political movements since 1864, both as a Republican and an Independent, notably in that of 1884, when he supported the Democratic ticket. He is a pronounced civil service and tariff reformer. Mr. Everett is the author of "On the Campa series of lectures on the University of Cambridge (Boston, 1865): two books for boys, "Changing Base" (1868), and "Double Play" (1870); "Hesione, or Europe Unchained," a poem (Boston, 1869); "School Sermons" (1881); and various pamphlets on political, literary, and religious subjects.

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Created: December 20, 2003   Modified: January 17, 2008