The Devil and Daniel Webster

by Stephen Vincent Benét

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Why did Jabez Stone seek Daniel Webster's assistance?

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In The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet, Jabez Stone sells his soul to the devil because he is having bad luck growing crops in the rocky soil of his farm in New England.  He agrees with the devil (Ol’ Scratch) that he will give him his soul in seven years.  When the devil comes to collect his due, Jabez talks him into an extension of three years. As the time grows nearer for the devil to come and take Jabez’s soul, Jabez goes to see the famous speaker and lawyer, Daniel Webster, convincing his to argue for his soul against the devil in a trial. 

Daniel Webster takes the case and argues in defense of Jabez in front of a tough jury of dead pirates, slavers, criminals, politicians, and even Judge Hawthorne of the Salem Witch Trials.  By pleading to their original emotional love for freedom and democracy, Webster wins the case.  He also insures that Ol’ Scratch will never bother Jabez again by drawing up and having Scratch sign a document agreeing to leave Jabez alone.

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