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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To John Randolph, In Rejoinder to a Challenge

By Daniel Webster (1782–1852)

[From The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Edited by Fletcher Webster. 1856.]

SIR,—For having declined to comply with your demand yesterday in the House, for an explanation of words of a general nature, used in debate, you now “demand of me that satisfaction which your insulted feelings require,” and refer me to your friend, Mr. ——, I presume, as he is the bearer of your note, for such arrangements as are usual.

This demand for explanation, you, in my judgment, as a matter of right, were not entitled to make on me; nor were the temper and style of your own reply to my objection to the sugar tax of a character to induce me to accord it as a matter of courtesy.

Neither can I, under the circumstances of the case, recognize in you a right to call me to the field to answer what you may please to consider an insult to your feelings.

It is unnecessary for me to state other and obvious considerations growing out of this case. It is enough that I do not feel myself bound at all times and under any circumstances, to accept from any man, who shall choose to risk his own life, an invitation of this sort; although I shall be always prepared to repel in a suitable manner the aggression of any man who may presume upon such a refusal.

Your obedient servant,
WASHINGTON, early in 1816.