Daniel Webster? Herbert Hoover? Apocryphal?
May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country.
The proposed monument will be shaped like a sundial and will honor veterans. Would you please help check the veracity of Webster’s words?
Quote Investigator: On February 22, 1832, a celebration dinner was held for the centennial anniversary of the birth of U.S. Founding Father George Washington. Festivities were held in the city named after the famous first president, and Daniel Webster delivered the main oration. He hoped that the U.S. experiment in democratic self-governance would continue to thrive, and at the end of the speech he audaciously speculated about another commemoration by “disciples of Washington” that might occur one hundred years into the distant future. The optimistic address finished with a toast. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[ref] 1832 March 18, Newbern Spectator, The Dinner in Honor pf the Memory of Washington, Start Page 1, Quote Page 2, Column 1, New Bern, North Carolina. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
. . . so surely may they see, as we now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol; and then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own Country.
Gentlemen, I propose—
“THE MEMORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.”
The text above was from a contemporaneous newspaper account published in the “Newbern Spectator” of New Bern, North Carolina on March 18, 1932. The same text also appeared in an 1832 book that recorded “Speeches and Other Proceedings at The Public Dinner in Honor of The Centennial Anniversary of Washington”.[ref] 1832, Speeches and Other Proceedings at The Public Dinner in Honor of The Centennial Anniversary of Washington, Held on February 22, 1932, Address by Daniel Webster, Start Page 3, Quote Page 11, Printed at the Office of Jonathan Elliot, City of Washington. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Daniel Webster’s speech was remembered with appreciation. The 1843 textbook “Practical Elocution: Containing Illustrations of the Principles of Reading and Public Speaking” by Samuel Niles Sweet printed a 125 word excerpt which included the target quotation:[ref] 1843, Practical Elocution: Containing Illustrations of the Principles of Reading and Public Speaking by Samuel Niles Sweet, Third Edition, Conclusion of Daniel Webster’s Speech, Start Page 127, Quote Page 127, Published and Sold by the Author, Rochester, New York.(Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
. . . and then, as now, may the sun in his course, visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country.
The Speech from which this short and eloquent extract is taken, was made at Washington, on the 22 of February, 1832, it being the Centennial birth day of George Washington.
In 1906 the quotation appeared as a filler item in the “Santa Cruz Morning Sentinel” of California and other newspapers. However, the statement was slightly altered. The word “his” was changed to “its”:[ref] 1906 July 4, Santa Cruz Morning Sentinel, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 3, Santa Cruz, California. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
“And then, as now, may the sun in its course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country.”
On February 22, 1932, U.S. President Herbert Hoover spoke at the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration. The country now had greater freedom, but it also was experiencing the economic duress of the Great Depression. Hoover repeated the quotation from Webster and remarked on its perspicacity:[ref] 1932, History of the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration, Volume 2, Address of Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, Delivered at a Joint Session of Congress February 22, 1932, Start Page 11, Quote Page 11, Column 1, Published by U. S. George Washington Bicentennial Celebration, Washington, D.C. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
The time that Webster looked forward to is here. We “other disciples of Washington” whom he foresaw are gathered today. His prophecy is borne out, his hope fulfilled. That flag “still floats from the top of the Capitol.” It has come unscathed through foreign war and the threat of internal division.
On July 4, 2019, a newspaper in Kenosha, Wisconsin published a collection of patriotic quotations which included the following three items:[ref] 2019 July 4, Kenosha News, Section: Opinion, Voices on the Fourth of July, Quote Page C3, Column 1 to 4, Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
“Freedom lies in being bold.”
— Robert Frost
“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.”
— Frederick Douglass
“May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!”
— Daniel Webster
In conclusion, Daniel Webster deserves credit for the words he spoke on February 22, 1832. During subsequent years, the quotation has sometimes been slightly altered with “its” replacing “his”.
(Great thanks to Chris Salvucci whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)
Image Notes: Painting titled “Life is Like a Sundial” by Laslett John Pott circa 1878. The image has been cropped, retouched, and resized.