Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Webster, Daniel (1782-1852) to James William Paige

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01946.30 Author/Creator: Webster, Daniel (1782-1852) Place Written: Marshfield, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: circa 1845 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 24.2 x 20.1 cm.

Thanks his brother-in-law for sending a beautiful basket. States that he went with his son Edward Webster to a pond where they acquired some ducks to send to Paige. Referencing the killed ducks, declares it "murderous, & hardly fair sport; but it shows how things are done, down here in Marshfield." 1845 written on this document in pencil at a later date.

Webster moved to Marshfield, Massachusetts in 1843 after serving as Secretary of State.

Wednesday Eve'
Dear Wm,
I have recd your bountiful basket, filled with all good things. You are never stinted in your good offices.
We send you a black duck, or two; but must tell you how we got them. Yesterday morig, Edward & I went to a pond, out in the woods, four or five miles off. At this time of year, the black duck, at certain times of tide, visits these fresh waters. They are shot after this manner. The gunner makes a little stand, or booth, of bushes, close on the shore, behind which he stands. He then sends out a tame duck, with a string to [2] her leg, to keep her from swimming away, & generally anchors her, by a small stone, so that she cannot swim back to the shore. It is her duty to invite other ducks which may light in the pond to join her, & if they do so, they come within the reach of shot. Other tame ducks are in the basket, to be thrown out into the pond, if occasion require. Well, yesterday morning, Edward & I went [illegible], he to one side of the pond, with a hand to put out the decoy duck, & I with another to the other side. None came near me; but a flock of fourteen came near Edwards stand, & seemed to take [3] notice of his anchored duck. At that moment his man threw off another duck, from behind his screen, which flew thirty or forty [struck: feet] yards into the pond, & their lighted, & all the wild ducks came down with her. Thereupon Edward & his man, let fly, at the same moment, & killed ten, out of fourteen. This is murderous, & hardly fair sport; but it shows how things are done, down here in Marshfield.
It has rained the greater part of this day. Indeed, there have not been two days, since I first came here, in which I could comfortably go out. Since I came [4] down on Saturday, there has been no hour, in which I could venture into a Book. I feel, however, stronger today, than I have for two months; & if I could get three fair days, wd. be satisfied -
Edward desires to send you the whole of his shot. You can remember Julia, Mrs Jay, & Mr J. P.
Yrs truly
D.W.
[docket]
D. Webster to
J.W. Paige
Marshfield
"Wednesday Eg"

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources