The tardy pile, slow rising there,
With tongueless eloquence shall tell
of them who for their country fell.

                        Ladies, you deserve
To have a temple built you.

The Bunker Hill Monument Association was incorporated in June, 1823. Nothing further was done that year. At the second annual meeting, which was held on the seventeenth of June, efficient plans were devised to carry forward the enterprise; and at the end of another year, just half a century after the battle, the corner stone was laid. General Lafayette was then on a visit to the United States, and was appropriately chosen to take a leading part in this interesting ceremony. The monument did not get fairly under way till the spring of 1827. This apparent tardiness was owing to the circumstance that the material was to be brought from a granite quarry in Quincy, and a rail road – the first in the United States – had to be built from the quarry to the wharf in Quincy to convey the stone.

In 1828, the funds were exhausted, and the work was not resumed till 1834. Within a year the work was again suspended for the same cause. Nothing further was done, and but little said, till 1839, when it was announced that two gentlemen -Amos Lawrence, Esq., of Boston, and Judah Truro, Esq., of New Orleans – would give ten thousand each, provided a sum sufficient to complete the monument could be raised. This liberal offer caused some momentary stimulation; but no proposal immediately made was deemed expedient.

The affairs of the Association now wore, as they had done once or twice before, a gloomy aspect. In the annual report, made on the seventeenth of June, 1840, doubts were expressed whether the present generation would see the monument completed. The same discouraging remark was made soon after, in one of the sewing circles of Boston, when, instead of depressing the spirits, it raised the ambition and quickened the thoughts of the ladies, and several of them proposed to get up a Fair. It was a happy suggestion; was forthwith sanctioned by the board of directors; prompted the issuing of a circular by a sub-committee of the same; raised the stentorian voice of a free and patriotic press, and met with immediate favor all over the land.

The ladies had moved in the matter- had taken the work into their own hands -and all doubts in regard to its speedy completion seemed to vanish. The Fair was announced to be held in Quincy Hall, Boston, to commence on the fifth of September, 1840. Every female in the land was invited to contribute some article of her own hands’ production, to the exhibition. The patriotic spirit of the mothers of the Revolution was now warm in the hearts of their daughters, and ten thousand hands, engaged in the work of preparation, were “plying the needle with exquisite art.”

The ladies were to have the complete management of the Fair; and, all things in readiness, it commenced. The product of so much industry and ingenuity, dispensed at the hands of the ladies, presented a scene to the thousands who gathered around the numerous well-stored tables, that is described by a writer -doubtless an eye-witness-as

“brilliant and inspiring.”*

The Fair continued till the fifteenth of the month. Its success was chronicled from day to day in a journal called “The Monument,” printed in the Hall. It was the grandest movement of the kind ever made in the country; was conducted throughout in the most admirable manner, and wound up in triumph. Its net proceeds were $30,035 50. To this sum and the $20,000 pledged by the two gentlemen before mentioned, was soon added enough, from other sources, to make the fund $55,153 27; and the work went on to its completion.†

Thus, at length, a “duty had been performed;” this imperishable offering to Freedom, “which had its commencement in manly patriotism,” was “crowned by garlands of grace and beauty.”

* Frothingham’s Siege of Boston.

† The last stone was raised on the morning of the twenty-third of July, 1842; the government of the Association and a multitude of other people were present on the occasion. Just before this act took place, a cannen was raised to the apex and discharged – a morning salute to call the people together to engage in the matins of Freedom. Edward Cares, Jr., of Charlestown, accompanied the stone in its ascent, waving the American flag as he went up, and the Charlestown Artillery were meanwhile firing salutes to announce to the surrounding country the interesting event.


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York

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