Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated June 17, 1858.
My Dear Sir I received a letter from you bearing date May 22. At the time I received
it, I did not receive the impression that any reply was called for. To-day chancing
to take it up, one point seems to need a little explanation. As things were I had
but little hope that anything could be done by the commissioners; still it appeared not improbably that Powers would not dare assume the things he did. I will leave him now to
himself. He is in no desirable condition. I am almost daily informed that he is in
very "ill odor" all over the state and that my whole salvation will come from
cutting the line where and when I did. Although still connected with the concern, I
acknowledge no responsibility for any of his acts since the first of May last. His
influence in the state is lost and
he cannot regain it. Had I not taken sides for the right, no living being would ever have heard intimated from him, that I was not abundantly able to do my work as it should be done, and that his report in regard to me last Oct. was not true, now, to make out his case, he permits Richards to revamp all my work, and circulate the report that I, having proved myself incompetent, was . I wrote to you fully in regard to the dome. I expect to be accused of having made different designs that my drawings do not agree amp;c. Having explained all to you I will not remark further. The point to which I wished to say a word was where you speak of my having made a mistake in offering to resign unless I had made up my mind absolutely to with draw. This was my mind, but you will remember that Mr Merrill, and the friends at Mont. urged me to , Powers having declined to accept it. Mr.
Merrill advised me to recall it. I did so, and if you remember you and he in conversation at his office proposed to consider my claim in the nature of a contract as it realy is. I have taken no step but by advice. You advise me to abstain from printing anything I have scrupulosly followed your advice, although it is hard to refrain, when I hear from and what he is doing, something must be done at the next session. As God knows my heart, I am desirous of being honorable if I but know what honor is. I have been wronged and abused by Powers from first to last. In anticipation of honest dealing I gave in gratis, all I did for the people of Mont. at and before the time of the extra session. He made it a condition of a bargain with me finaly that I should pay all my bills and give in all my work for and with the commrs. Then for a low sum he contracted with me to do all the work. I made all my drawing for the dome complete. The Commissioners thought best to have a new one
You know what was done. The thing was under consideration for weeks. At last an entirely new one was adopted, and a whole set of new drawings made. It is true I agreed to make all drawings required for a certain sum of mony but it was for that design and I made them Is it an approach in justice in him to ask me to make all the new ones for nothing? I am depending that you as chair man of the board will stand by me. I had the complete favor and confidence of Powers as long as I was him I have that of the people to a man I hope you consider me as entitled to yours. I have no doubt but the feeling in the state is such that when an appropriation is asked for a committee will investigate the whole matter. He has had $70,000 which is quite too much to be put into the hands of a mere amateur. The have the matter in hand and will see to it. I write you freely for I wish to be in the confidence of my friends. What is being done in regard to the Statue? Has he triumphed or have you? I never yet gave the specification.
I am yours very truly
Thomas W. Silloway
121 Court Street
P.S. I go to Montpelier a week from Monday next.
References in this letter:
Governor Fletcher named three commissioners to oversee the construction of a new State House in Montpelier: Norman Williams, John Porter, and George Perkins Marsh. Dr. Thomas E. Powers was named the Superintendent of Construction.
Dr. Thomas E. Powers, (1808-1876), of Woodstock, Vermont, was appointed by Governor Fletcher to be the Superintendent of Construction of the 1858-1860 project, to build a new State House in Montpelier to rebuild the structure burned in 1857. He and the architect, Thomas W. Silloway, were soon at loggerheads over their roles in the project. Powers became State Senator in 1861.
F. F. Merrill was a Montpelier lawyer who represented Silloway in his proceedings against Superintendent Powers.
Thomas W. Silloway, (1828-1910), was only thirty years old in 1857 when he was chosen architect for the new State House in Montpelier. Silloway was from Massachusetts, and had worked in the office of Ammi B. Young, the architect who designed the previous building. Silloway and Dr. Powers, the superintendent of construction for the 1857 job, had worked together to design and build a new courthouse in Woodstock, Vermont, that burned in 1854.