"Daniel Pratt was born in Chelsea, Mass., in 1809. He was apprenticed to a carpenter and followed that trade for a time, but disappeared suddenly and was not seen at home again for a dozen years. When he returned his mind was unbalanced, and from that time on he led a wandering life.
To almost every person graduated from a college in the Middle and Eastern States during the last twenty-five or thirty years the name and face of Daniel Pratt are familiar. He, in fact, adopted himself into the fraternity of college undergraduates, looked on them as his friends, made himself at home at their tables and on their campuses, and was never so pleased as when he was exciting himself and, as he believed, arousing their enthusiasm by one of his famous addresses. Pratt's origin and early history were not known to his student acquaintances. That he was a man of a good deal of natural shrewdness he often proved; but his mind was in some way unbalanced, so that he had become a harmless 'crank.' He boasted that he was the greatest traveller in this country; and certain it is that penniless as he almost always was, he was ever in motion, and after a week's stay at Harvard was likely to turn up at any moment at Washington or some more distant place. He was a self-announced candidate for President of the United States in every campaign, and would argue about his chances with unbounded confidence. When told one day in 1876 that an article had been inserted in a newspaper setting forth the strength of his claim for the nomination as against Grant, he became very angry, saying that if the Grant crowd were stirred up against him he would 'have no show.' His 'orations' and poems (generally written for him by some student) were marvels of polysyllabic nonsense."