(Bunker Hill) William Tudor Autograph Letter Signed


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Tudor, William: [AUTOGRAPH LETTER, SIGNED, FROM THE BUNKER HILL MONUMENT ASSOCIATION TO ALDEN PARTRIDGE, DESCRIBING THE MONUMENT AND ASKING FOR PARTRIDGE’S SUPPORT FOR THE PROJECT]. Boston. Aug. 1, 1823. 2 pages, plus address leaf. Quarto, on a folded folio sheet. Old fold lines. Small loss to address leaf from wax seal, not affecting text. Very minor soiling. Very good plus. In a blue half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt.

Letter written by William Tudor on behalf of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and signed by three chief members, describing the project to Alden Partridge, head of the military academy at Norwich, Vermont, and soliciting his support for their endeavor.  The Bunker Hill Monument Association was formed in June 1823, and William Tudor was one of its founding members.  Tudor, the first judge advocate of the Continental Army, studied law under John Adams, with whom he became lifelong friends.  A Boston native, Tudor developed a keen sense of public duty and a passion for civil service and public works, and his involvement with the Monument Association is a fine example.  The cornerstone for the monument was laid two years later, on June 17, 1825, with the Marquis de Lafayette as presiding official.  The monument was not completed until 1843; the building process required the construction of a railway line to carry the granite blocks, and the Association was forced  to sell a considerable portion of the land it owned in order to finance the cost.

At the time this letter was written, however, all was fresh enthusiasm for the project.  The directors wrote to many important men to solicit support.  Alden Partridge was a member of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, and a faculty member and superintendent of West Point before founding his own military academy in Norwich.  Partridge played an important role in engineering and education in America, and the ANB notes that through his efforts, “civil engineering was transformed from an informal trade to an intellectual discipline, requiring formal education.”

Tudor’s letter outlines the goals of the project.  He writes:

The undersigned a Committee in behalf of the ‘Bunker Hill Monuments Association’, have the honor to address you in regard to the object of said association, incorporated at the last session of our legislature.  It is intended to elevate on Bunker Hill which fortunately is yet open ground, a simple, majestic, lofty & permanent monument, which shall carry down to remote ages, a testimony consecrated by the gratitude of the present generation, to the heroic courage and virtue of those men who began & achieved the independence of their country.  It is proposed that this monument shall contain the names & dates of all the distinguished characters & events which originated in New England.  That it shall comprise in one noble & commanding plan, all the separate merits, which have on various occasions been proposed to be thus honoured.  In fine that it shall be a monument dedicated to the revolutionary glory which belongs  to this portion of the  union.  It shall be a structure worthy of the cause, worthy of the men, & worthy of the results these have produced.  As the struggle began here, we should take the lead in thus celebrating it; and what spot can be more suitable, possessed as it is, of conspicuous natural advantages & rendered sacred by its recollections, than the ground where the first battle was fought, where our appeal was made irrevocable, and sealed in blood?

All the States which now form the Eastern Division of the Union have a similar interest in this cause, they each have brave citizens who took part in the same battle: and each produced great men whose names will be inscribed on the monument.  We presume therefore, that from all parts of them, voluntary offerings may be expected to aid this enterprise.  In this state we propose through committees in each town, to make an appeal to every individual, and to receive the smallest donation that may be offered, believing that the design must be effected by a universal contribution of small sums rather than by a few subscriptions of great amount, though we are not without expectation that some of our wealthy & public spirited men may subscribe liberally to the undertaking.  The separate contributions of each State & Town will be carefully noted; and we intent to record in a volume to be deposited in the monument, the name of every person who gives to the amount of a dollar.

We have addressed a letter on this subject to the governor of your State, & we have given him the names of a few gentlemen to whom we have also written.  We solicit your sanction & efforts in a cause, which is to honor the past & the present & to excite emulation in the future.

It is signed by Tudor and two others, R. Sullivan and F.C. Gray.  Tudor has also included a list of the other gentlemen to whom he has written.

A nice, early piece in the history of this important American monument.