Washington Monument Papers, 1810-1843, MS. 876

Washington Monument Papers, 1810-1843


Maryland Historical Society
 

  

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)
 

Washington Monument Papers, 1810-1843
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
410.685.3750
Fax: 410.385.2105
library@mdhs.org
www.mdhs.org

 


Descriptive Summary

WASHINGTON MONUMENT PAPERS

MS. 876

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

Harriot Weiskittel

February 1979

 


Scope and Content

The collection includes correspondence, financial records, minute books, visitors' books, drawings, contracts, maps.

The collection is especially rich in correspondence. There are numerous folders of letters from Robert Mills, which span the years 1814 (when Mills submitted his winning plan for the Monument) to 1839 when the work was virtually complete. Mills's letters, written frequently and at great length, form an invaluable corpus of information regarding the progress of work on the Monument (including changes in its design necessitated by financial stringincies) as well as providing an autobiographical account of Mills's other architectural commissions and his own impecunious state.

From 1825 the Board of Managers submitted annual reports to the Treasurer of the Western Shore in which the Board summarized the progress of work, presented the accounts and estimated the amount of work and money required for the following year. The collection includes eight folders of correspondence and reports exchanged between the Board and the Western Shore Treasury during the years 1825-1843.

The numerous invoices, receipts, accounts, bills etc. in Box 4 amply document the expenses incurred during the construction of the Monument.

Mills's original drawings of his plan for the Monument may be found in Box 3 and his `studies for the surmounting of the Washington Monument Column' with numerous sketches of the inscriptions and proposed trophies are inserted in the oversize volume `Rejected Designs of the Washington Monument.'

Principal correspondents include Robert Mills, Robert Gilmor, Jr., Enrico Causici, William Steuart, David Winchester and George MacKubin.

 

BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT

James A. Buchanan (President 1814-1819)

 

David Winchester (Treasurer)

 

John Comegys (President 1810-1814)

 

James Calhoun, Jr.

 

Nicholas G. Ridgeley

 

James Williams,

 

George Hoffman

 

James Partridge

 

Robert Miller

 

Washington Hall

 

Isaac McKim

 

Lemuel Taylor

 

Robert Gilmor, Jr. (President 1819-18)

 

Fielding Lucas, Jr.

 

John Frick

 

James Barroll

 

Edward I. Coale

 

Benjamin H. Mullikin

 

Nathaniel F. Williams

 

Levi Hollingsworth

 

James Cocke

 

William Gwynne

 

William H. Winder

 

Eli Simkins (Secretary, but not a member)

 


Introduction

The papers span the years 1810-1843, with five additional folders which date from 1915-1916, the centennial of the laying of the cornerstone of the Monument.

The provenance of these papers is not certain, but MS. 2008 (the papers of the Maryland Historical Society) contains a letter from William F. Lucas, 14 June 1880, who donated to the Society papers which comprise all those connected with the `Washington Monument' from its incipiency. William Lucas inherited the papers from his father, W.Lucas Jr., the last survivor of the original Board of Managers.

Many of the letters in this collection are addressed to Robert Gilmor Jr., in his capacity as President of the Board of Managers, and thus it is possible that some of the papers reached the Society through donations by Gilmor's descendents.

This collection is an amalgation of three collections - 876, 876.1 and 876.2. After conservation the papers were brought together and arranged in one sequence.

Lottery tickets were transferred to the Society's Coin and Currency Collection.

Numerous books and articles have been written on the history and construction of the Washington Monument but a brief recapitulation of major dates and events may be useful here.

In 1810 a petition extolling the virtues of George Washington and his services to the country was presented to the Maryland State Legislature with the request that a memorial be erected to his memory. The outcome of this appeal was the passage of an Act on 6 January 1810, authorizing the raising of a sum of money by lottery, not to exceed $100,000, for the construction of a monument.

The Act also created a Board of Managers which was given the authority to oversee the lottery and to direct the building of the monument. John Comegys, the author of the original petition to the Legislature, was elected President of the Board at its second meeting, February 1810. A Lottery Committee was appointed and for three years the Board's activities and attentions were directed to supervising the Monument Lotteries.

In 1813 sufficient funds were collected for the Board to offer a prize of $500 for the best plan for the monument. In May 1814 Robert Mills was awarded the prize and appointed architect. A Building Committee was created tosupervise the work of construction.

In 1814 James Buchanan succeeded Comegys as President of the Board after the latter's death in July of that year. On 4 July 1815 the cornerstone of the monument was laid at a site donated by John Eager Howard after the original site (on North Calvert Street) had been rejected in fear that the column might prove dangerous to surrounding property.

The building of the monument continued from 1815 to 1820 when the capital was placed inpposition and the pedestal was mounted to receive the statue. It was not however until 1827 that the Board advertised a competition for a sculpture to be placed on top of the column. The model submitted by Enrico Causici was chosen and in November 1829 his completed statue of George Washington was raised to the top of the column.

In the meantime, Robert Gilmor, Jr. became President of the Board of Managers following the resignation of Buchanan in 1819 and continued to serve in this capacity until the Board was dissolved. The Board of Managers was continually plagued by financial difficulties as lottery receipts were not sufficient to cover construction costs. The sixth, and last, class of the Monument Lottery was held in 1824. After that date, the expenses were met from funds made over to the Board from the proceeds of the State Lottery. By 1843 expenses for the Monument had totalled over $200,000.

 


Container List

BOX 1

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1814

 

Includes Mills's letter transmitting his entry in the design contest.

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1818

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from Robert Mills, William Steuart, J. Donnell

1819

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1820

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from R. Mills, William Steuart, Enrico Causici

1823 - 1825

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from Robert Mills, William Steuart, J. Brewer (House of Delegates)

1826

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1827

 

Includes letter from N. (?) Gevetot forwarded by Mills.

 

 

 

Enrico Causici to Board of Managers

1827

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from Enrico Causici, William Steuart

1828

 

 

 

Enrico Causici to Board of Managers

1829

 

 

 

H. Castro to Board of Managers

1829

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1829

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from J.T. Ducatel, J.D. Woodside

1829

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1830

 

 

 

Letters to Board of Managers from E. Causici and H. Castro

1830

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1831

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1832

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1833

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1834

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1835

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1836

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1837

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1838 (March-June)

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1838 (July-Dec.)

 

 

 

Robert Mills to Board of Managers

1839

 

 

 

Misc. letters to Board of Managers

1810 - 1843

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to Enrico Causici

1827-1829, 1833

 

 

 

Letters to Robert Mills from A. Copellana and Robert Gilmor

1827, 1829

 

 

 

Letters to William Steuart from Robert Gilmor, Robert Mills, and unidentified

1821, 1828, 1834

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to the Treasurer of the Western Shore

1827, 1831

 

 

 

B. Harwood (Western Shore Treasurer) to Board of Managers

1825

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to B. Harwood

1825

 

 

 

George MacKubin (Western Shore Treasurer) to Board of Managers

1826-1835

 

 

 

George MacKubin (Western Shore Treasurer) to Board of Managers

1836-1843

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to George MacKubin

1826-1835

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to George MacKubin

1836-1842

 

 

 

J.S. Owens (Western Shore Treasurer) to Board of Managers

1843

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to J.S. Owens

1843

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to John Gittings (Commissioner of Loans)

1843

 

 

 

Copies of correspondence from Board of Managers and William Steuart to State Legislature

1825 - 1830

 

 

 

Copies of letters from Board of Managers to State Legislature

1833-1842, n.d.

 

 

 

Correspondence between members of the Board of Managers

1819 - 1834

 

 

 

BOX 2

Copies of resolutions passed by the Maryland General Assembly

1834, 1843

 

 

 

Minutes of meetings of the Board of Managers. Includes copies of official resolutions passed by the Board.

1816-1828, 1830

 

 

 

Copy of advertisement for sculptor to design tropies for the Monument.

1839

 

 

 

Ms. list of contents of the Washington Monument papers.

n.d.

 

 

 

Contracts (with brick-makers, carpenters, stone masons, lime merohants etc.) for the construction of the Monument.

1815-1816

 

 

 

Contracts for the construction of the Monument

1835-1838

 

 

 

Printed material (copies of official acts by the legislature, annual reports of the Board of Managers)

1825-1842

 

 

 

Washington Monument Lottery

(11 folders)

1810-1826

 

Includes minutes of the Lottery Committee of the Board of Managers, correspondence, accounts, copies of official acts and resolutions passed by the Legislature, lists of prizes, lists of winning numbers, bonds, promisory notes, memoranda from J.I. Cohen, Jr.

See `Cohen Brothers of Baltimore: Lotteries to Banking', W.R. Luce, Maryland Historical Magazine, 68, pp.288-308, for good description of the Monument Lottery.

 

 

 

Centennial celebrations

(5 folders)

1915-1916

 

Includes correspondence, photograph of bronze plaque, proof copy of article re history of Monument, correspondence and notes re 1893 petition for removal of iron railing surrounding Monument, correspondence re building of Monument.

 

 

 

BOX 3

`Designs for the Washington Monument by Robert Mills, 1814' (Book was bound in August 1942)

 

Contains a 5 pp. formal statement of his plan and coloured sketches of the principal fronts, of the `second fronts', plan of the great capital, plan halfway up the capital, plan at the top, 2 plans at the base.

 

 

 

Account Book, 1814-1824. From other end of book, lists of expenditure, 1815-1843.

 

 

 

Volume of `Papers relating to Washington Monument' Includes copy of John Comegys's resolution submitted to the Legislature, copy of petitions submitted to the House of Delegates, minutes of the Board of Managers from February 1810 to March 1815.

 

 

 

Minute Book of the Board of Managers and of the Lottery Committee. Record begins on 23 February 1820 and continues to 14 April 1843 but there are many breaks in the sequence. Book is annotated at top of first page `The proceedings of the Board prior to this date could not be found after the death of Mr. Simkins its Secretary.' From other end of book, minutes beginning 1 December 1819 and continuing to 23 February 1820.

 

Book also contains copies of official bills, notes, news clippings, memoranda etc.

 

 

 

BOX 4

Financial records

(32 folders)

1815-1842

 

Includes invoices, receipts, accounts, bills, estimates of work to be done etc. Record of advertising, supplies and materials, ground rent, labor, debts, income, publicity.

 

 

 

BOX 5

Visitors' Books.

(10 volumes)

 

 

July 1835 - May 1838, with covering letter from Robert Gilmor

 

 

 

May 1838 - August 1838

 

 

 

November 1838 - April 1839

 

 

 

April 1839 - July 1839

 

 

 

July 1839 - September 1839

 

 

 

January 1840 - May 1840

 

 

 

May 1840 - June 1840

 

 

 

June 1840 - September 1840

 

 

 

September 1840 - December 1840

 

 

 

December 1840 - April 1841

 

 

 

 

Box 6 OVERSIZE

Filed in oversized case

 

 

Volume `Rejected designs of the Washington Monument'

 

Contains Washington Monument drawings and inscriptions, Robert Gilmor letter re completion of the Monument, list of members of Washington Monument Lottery Committee, biographical data on George Washington, maps of site of Monument

 

 

 

 

Robert Mills-Washington Monument drawings - Items in gallery

MS 876

 

 

91.49.1-.5

 

 

91.49.1 Elevation of the Second front

 

 

 

91.49.2 Plan at the base of the Grand Pedestal

 

 

 

91.49.3 Plan of the Grand Pedestal at the foot of the column

 

 

 

91.49.4 Plan of the Great Capital of the column

 

 

 

Plan halfway up the column with a plan of one of the galleries

 

 

 

91.49.5 Plan at the top of the column with the Plan of the locle (?) of the quadrigs

 

Six (6) encapsulated pages, his letter to the Board of Managers about the design