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Letter from HIRAM POWERS to JAMES ALFRED PEARCE, dated March 21, 1858.

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Title: Letter from HIRAM POWERS to JAMES ALFRED PEARCE, dated March 21, 1858.


  • Powers, Hiram, 1805-1873


  • Pearce, James Alfred

Source Document

Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter



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Type of Resource: text

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Letter from HIRAM POWERS to JAMES ALFRED PEARCE, dated March 21, 1858., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 20, 2018)

Letter from HIRAM POWERS to JAMES ALFRED PEARCE, dated March 21, 1858.

Transcribed by : John Thomas, Ralph H. Orth and Ellen Thomson

TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski andEllen Thomson

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information


Honble Mr Pierce --
Chairman of the Comittee on the Library of Congress


A letter lately received from my friend Honble Judge Mc:Lean, encourages me to write to you in regard to the appropriation in 1855 of $25000 by Congress "for some work of Art executed or to be executed by me) and suitable for the adornment of the Capitol" --

He says he has had conversations with the President and yourself, and from their tenor he inferred, that you would permit me to write to you upon the subject --

Judge Mc.Lean thinks that a group of figures would be more acceptable than a single colossal Statue, and he advises me to propose a group, but before considering the matter, it would be well to know the nature of the subject to be chosen; whether Historical, poetical or allegorical, also how many figures would be required and how large--in bronze or marble --

An intimation of your wishes in these respects, might save considerable time and labour in the wrong direction --

I suppose it is not unknown to you, that in the hope of encouragement from the government, and a place for my work somewhere in or near the Capitol, I, some years ago, designed and modelled a statue, to which I gave the name of our Country --

This figure was intended to illustrate the Genius and beauty of our Republic --

It has several times, without any solicitation of mine--been proposed for the consideration of -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- Congress, and I have always supposed it was the work alluded to in the law of Congress, by the words "Some work of Art executed" --

President Pierce admitted, that by the law he would be justified in receiving this Statue, and he finally promised to do so, and pay the appropriation, if I would make it collossal; a promise which Mr Everett accepted in my behalf, but nothing was done --

I might say something of priority of Claim, while alluding to the fact, that long since Congress seems to have given me an order for a national figure, another Allegory of our Country, of a military Character, has been commissioned by the Executive; I might mention also, that my conception of the Genius of our Republic is not Military but peaceful--indeed I might give some views upon this subject, but am aware of the value of your time, and that I ought not unnecessarily to trespass upon it --

If with many of my friends--I erred in supposing that by so liberal an appropriation, Congress intended a mark of recognition for a humble pioneer of American Art, and the eldest, I believe, of native Sculptors, my vanity has been rebuked by the Executive, and I am humbled. I now stand before you, kind Sir, with no complaint, but willing to earn the Appropriation, as I earn the means of subsistence from private commissions -- But I cannot do more than that, nor shall I stand upon the subject to be chosen, I yield all this to those who have controul of these matters--reserving only the election of whether I can conform to their wishes --

With many thanks for the kindness of your remarks to Judge Mc:Lean, and sincere re- -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- gard, I am most respectfully your obbedient servant --

H. Powers -- note:Florence -- March 21st 1858 --

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