Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

tleman thus addressed acted; a movement was commenced, but fell through from want of some one or some few, it may be, to urge it forward. Again, in April 1833, when the commercial prosperity peculiarly favored such an effort, a note was addressed by the same gentleman to Hon. S. T. Armstrong, Hon. Charles Wells, J. T. Buckingham and J. P. Thorndike, Esqrs. members of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, proposing to that Association to attempt the raising by an appeal to the public of $50,000, to be paid or secured within three months, for completing the Monument and preserving the field, and accompanying the proposal with the offer of five thousand doliars, towards the amount or ten per cent on any less sum that might be raised—and the same sum, as a donation for the uses of the Charitable Mechanic Association. A public meeting in consequence of this proposal was called by this association to be held in Faneuil Hall, May 28, 1833, which was numerously attended and was addressed by Hon. Edward Everett among others, in one of his happiest efforts, as it was regarded at the time. His speech on that occasion was widely circulated through the press and forms an important part of the History of the Monument. It may be found in the recent edition of his works, vol. 1, page 354.

The meeting at Faneuil Hall, and especially the speech of Mr. Everett, was regarded as deciding the matter. Multitudes went their way under the excitement of that occasion, exclaiming, that the Monument was finished and the land saved. But this effort failed through want of some individual or individuals of high character and influence who would undertake to pres3 and pursue the object in the freshness of the impulse which had been imparted.

RESUMPTION OF THE WORK.

Enough however was done through the instrumentality of the Mechanic Association to justify, it was thought, a resumption of the work in the following year. The Monument Association, May 5, 1834, empowered and requested the Mechanic Association to apply the moneys collected by them to the work of the obelisk “by raising the same to the elevation of 159 feet, 6 inches.” It was also voted, that when the obelisk had reached that height, it should be considered as completed. At the same meeting a committee reported in favor of offering for sale the land owned by the Corporation, reserving the square now enclosed, in order to liquidate the debt of the Association.

This debt was contracted in the prosecution of the work, the Building Committee having borrowed money of one of the Boston Banks, for which they made themselves individually responsible. The Bank had been extremely liberal ; but payment could be no longer delayed. The only security, which these gentlemen had, was a mortgage of the land in question ; and the sacrifice, against which they had themselves struggled with great earnestness and perseverance, as preceding statements show, seemed inevitable.

The Monument Association voted, June 17, 1834, to offer the land for sale. The ten acres were divided into fifty shares at five hundred dollars each, double the market value, and were all taken and paid for by friends to the enterprise, with the provision, that the Association might redeem the land within a certain period, and in the hope that the field would be secured to the public. Thus was the Association relieved of its debt. One more effort to preserve the land, was made by a large proprietor* in the ownership, who proposed to the remaining

* Amos Lawrence, Esq

proprietors to take their shares at a certain value, and to transfer the land, thus conveyed, to the Monument Association, or to the State, or to any competent body, to be kept open forever. The proposal was not acceded to; and it having become evident, that the public would not prevent the sacrifice, the matter was

land ; soon after it was offered for public sale, and was lost to the monument beyond recovery.

Through the instrumentality of the Mechanic Association nearly $20,000 were collected. To this sum was added by vote of the Monument Association the Ladies Fund, then amounting to nearly $3000; and the whole, excepting a balance of about $800, was expended on the obelisk under direction of a Building Committee of the Mechanic Association consisting of Hon. Charles Wells, George Darracott, Jonathan Whitney, Charles Leighton and John P. Thorndike Esqrs. This Committee and the Association under which they acted deserve credit for faithfulness and assiduity in the discharge of a patriotic duty. The services of Mr. Willard, as Superintendent, were again secured ; who was assisted by Mr. James S. Savage, as before. Mr. Charles Pratt was the master mason. By this effort the obelisk was raised to the height of eighty feet. At this point the work was again abandoned in consequence of the failure of funds.

COMPLETION OF THE MONUMENT.

Various schemes were again proposed to secure the means for completing the work. Public appeals were made in the newspapers, but nothing effectual was done during the succeeding four years to encourage the friends of the enterprise. At length early in 1839, a new proposal was made to the Mechanic Association by Amos Lawrence Esq., whose name may properly be mentioned as the matter became one of public notoriety. Having learned that this Association contemplated a renewed effort, he addressed a note to George Darracott Esq., President of the Mechanic Association, in which after expressing regret, that his feeble and precarious health would not permit him to , spend time in making personal application to the citizens of Boston, he adds: “ The next best thing I can do is to give money. The Monument Association owe a debt. To discharge the debt, finish the monument, surround it with a handsome iron fence and otherwise ornament the ground as it deserves, will require $40,000 more than it now has. If the Bunker Hill Monument Association will collect $30,000 dollars the present year and pay off the debt, I will give to the Charitable Mechanic Association $10,000 to enable it to complete the work in a manner that our fathers would have donc, had they been here to direct it.” Judah Touro of New Orleans, formerly a citizen of Boston, made a donation of the same amount. Thus encouraged the Mechanic Association proposed their subscription, but as it was thought inexpedient to press it, nothing further was done.

In the Annual Report of the Monument Association, June 1840, the doubt was expressed, whether the present generation would witness the completion of the Monument. This expres. sion of the Report being repeated within a few days in a “ sewing circle” of Boston, several ladies proposed the idea of a Fair in behalf of the object. The suggestion at once received favor; before the end of the month the formal sanction of the Board of Directors of the Monument Association was given to the new project and measures were taken immediately in furtherance of it. A circular recommending the plan was issued by a committee of the Directors, and appeals in its behalf were made through the public press. In the principal towns of New England, and indeed throughout the land, ladies were speedily busied in preparation of articles for the Fair.

Many towns sent contributions of money. The Fair was held in Quincy Hall, Boston, Sept. 1840, and continued seven days, exclusively under the direction of the ladies, although with the hearty coöperation and efficient aid of gentlemen who had, from the first, labored in behalf of the object. The Fair was admirably conducted. Every effort was made to prevent the common abuses of such methods of raising funds. Articles offered for sale were required to be good of their kind, and to be held at fair prices. Nothing was permitted to be done to extort money; no raffles or drawing by chances was allowed. The strictest decorum was maintained.—The project was successful beyond espectation. Thousands from city and country flocked to the scene; and the abundance, variety, and beauty of the articles exhibited, as well as the arrangements, were creditable in the highest degree to the industry, taste, skill, and spirit of the Ladies of New England.

The proceeds of the Fair, $30,000, with the donation of Messrs. Lawrence and Touro of $10,000 each, together with more than $5000 from other sources, afforded the means of completing the Monument according to the original design. The vote of May 1834, that it should be regarded as finished when it had reached the height of 159 feet, was rescinded. IIon. Charles Wells, George Darracott, J. P. Thorndike and Charles Leighton Esqrs. were appointed a Building Committee by the Mechanic Association. In Nov. 1840 James S. Savage was contracted with to complete the obelisk according to the original design of the Architect, Solomon Willard, and under his superintendence. In May 1841 work was resumed ; and at 6 o'clock on the morning of July 23, 1842, the last stone was raised in presence of the Oficers of the Association, the American flag being waved from it during its ascent and under a salute from the Charlestown Artillery. The Monument now stands two hundred and twenty one feet high.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »