The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With An Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview

THE COMPLETION OF THE BUNKER HILL
MONUMENT.

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED ON BUNKER HILL, ON THE 17TH OF JUNE, 1843,
ON OCCASION OF THE COMPLETION OF THE MONUMENT.

[IN the introductory note to the preceding Address, a brief account is given of the origin and progress of the measures adopted for the erection of the Bunker Hill Monument, down to the time of laying the corner-stone, compiled from Mr. Frothingham History of the Siege of Boston. The same valuable work (pp. 345-352) relates the obstacles which presented themselves to the rapid execution of the design, and the means by which they were overcome. In this narrative, Mr. Frothingham has done justice to the efforts and exertions of the successive boards of direction and officers of the Association, to the skill and disinterestedness of the architect, to the liberality of distinguished individuals, to the public spirit of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, in promoting a renewed subscription, and to the patriotic zeal of the ladies of Boston and the vicinity, in holding a most successful fair. As it would be difficult farther to condense the information contained in this interesting summary, we must refer the reader to Mr. Frothingham's work for an adequate account of the causes which delayed the completion of the monument for nearly seventeen years, and of the resources and exertions by which the desired end was finally attained. The last stone was raised to its place on the morning of the 23d of July, 1842.

It was determined by the directors of the Association, that the completion of the work should be celebrated in a manner not less imposing than that in which the laying of the corner-stone had been celebrated, seventeen years before. The co-operation of Mr. Webster was again invited, and, notwithstanding the pressure of his engagements as Secretary of State at Washington, was again patriotically yielded. Many circumstances conspired to increase the interest of the occasion. The completion of the monument had been long delayed, but in the interval the subject had been kept much before the public mind. Mr. Webster's address on the 17th of June, 1825, had obtained the widest circulation throughout the country; passages from it had passed into household words throughout the Union. Wherever they were repeated, they made the Bunker Hill Monument a familiar thought with the people. Meantime, Boston and Charlestown had doubled their population, and the multiplication of railroads in every direction enabled a person, in almost any part of New England, to reach the metropolis in a day. The President of the United States and his Cabinet had accepted invitations to be present; delegations of the descendants of New England were present from the remotest parts of the Union; one hundred and eight surviving veterans of the Revolution, among whom were some who were in the battle of Bunker Hill, imparted a touching interest to the scene.

Every thing conspired to promote the success of the ceremonial. The day was uncommonly fine; cool for the season, and clear. A large volunteer force from various parts of the country had assembled for the occasion, and formed a brilliant escort to an immense procession, as it moved from Boston to the battle-ground on the hill. The bank which slopes down from the obelisk on the eastern side of Monument Square was covered with seats, rising in the form of an amphitheatre, under the open sky. These had been prepared for ladies, who had assembled in great numbers, awaiting the arrival of the procession. When it arrived, it was received into a large open area in front of these seats. Mr. Webster was stationed upon an elevated platform, in front of the audience and of the monument towering in the background. According to Mr. Frothingham's estimate, a hundred thousand persons were gathered about the spot, and nearly half that number are supposed to have been within the reach of the orator's voice. The ground rises slightly between the platform and the Monument Square, so that the whole of this immense concourse, compactly crowded together, breathless with attention, swayed by one sentiment of admiration and delight, was

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