State Historical Society of Wisconsin cn.

Collections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) online

. (page 35 of 58)
Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 35 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


may, if brought into the market, help out a few others.
It would seem that the source of supply of the Lynch signa-
tures is practically exhausted, and perhaps the Gwinnett
also. Dr. Gilman stated, in April, 1815, that the Misses
Bowman informed him, that a large trunk of the papers of
their nncle, Thomas Lynch, Jr., had, a few years previously,
been deposited for safety with their kinsman. Gen. James
Hamilton, and were destroyed by the burning of his resi-
dence. They added, that they had been accustomed, when
they went into the country, to place that trunk, witli its
precious contents, in the Lank; but had unfortunately on
that occasion, deviated from their usual custom. Glher
Southern signatures, notably those of ?iliddleton and Hey-
ward, seem almost as difTicult of procurement.

Intimately connected with a collection of autographs of
the Signers, are coities of the engraved portraits antl views
of the residences of the writers, for their proper illustration.
Such engravings, judiciously selected, and properly mounted,
add vastly to the interest and attractiveness of any set of
the Signers — indeed, they are quite indispensable.

As early as 17 87, while our distinguished American paint-
er, Col. John Trumbull, was yet in Europe, he seems to have
formed the design of his great National picture of the Signers
— probably then painting Adams and Jeiferson, our respec-
tive representatives at the courts of Great Britain and France,
and probably obtaining their suggestions. In 17b!», he
painted portraits of such Signers as were then in Congress;
or, as he has recorded it in his autobiography, " I arranged
carefully the composition for the ' Declaration of Indepen-
dence,' and prc'iiared it for receiving the portraits as I met
with the distinguished men who were present at that illus-
trious scene." Again, in i:'A), he records: '* In May, 1 went
to Philadelphia, where I obtained some portraits for my
great work." in Sei)tember, after passing some time in the
country, he went to Boston and New Hampshire in quest of
heads; and, in 1791, he says, "in February, I went Charles-
town, South Carolina, and there obtained portraits of the
Butledges, Finckneys, LLiddletons, Laurens, Heyward, etc.



AUTOGKAPIIS OF THE SIGNERS. 360

* * * 111 April, I sailed for Yorktown, * * *
and tlien rode to Williamttbuijj:, and obtained a drawing of
Mr. Wythe for the ' Declaration.'" Washington, in a letter
La FayetLe, November :.>l. irwl, spoke of "the greatness of
the desij^n, and the masterly execution of the work."

As a few of the members who were present when the
Declaration was passed on the 1th of Jaly, retired before
the enL^rossed C(;py was ready for signing, and thus failed
to attach their nam.is to the great American Magna Charta;
while others, who were not present, but subsequently be-
came members, ailixed their signatures to tlie Declaration.
Col. Trumbull was embarrassed in determining how to treat
these clashes, lie finally resolved to include all the Signers,
of whom he could obtain likenesses, and also those who
were present when the Declaration was enacted. Of this
latter class, however, he, for some reason, omitted Henry
Wisner, of New York, Charles ilumphreys, of Pennsyl-
vania, and John Rogers,' of iMaryland.

Speaking of the pictures of the Signers, Col. Trumbull
says: "All saw the correctness of the portraits. I\kany
knew the accuracy of the countenances recorded." He has
introduced forty-eight heads, and fulMength portraits, into
his grand representation -five of whom were not Signers,
namely, George Clinton, II. R. Livingston, Thomas Whar-
t(^n, John Dickinson, who were in Congress when the act
was passed, but not at the signing, and Charles Thomson,
the Secretary, whose name attests the accuracy of the doc-
ument, and genuineness of the signatures of the Signt-rs.
Of these forty-eight persons represented in the picture. Col.
Trumbull seems to have faithfully painted thirty-eight from
life, copied nine from other likenesses, and painted one, that
of Harrison, from directions given him for the ])urpose.

In a letter written by TrmnbuU to Uen. W\ II. Harrison,
in February, 1818, he states: " Since I wrote you last, I have
inquired of Mr. Peale, and have received for answer that he
possesses no portrait of your father in his museum. My

'With reference to Rogers, see Etting's History of Independence Hall
85, 96, 100, 177.



390 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

sole reliance must, therefore, be on such discription as you
and his friend. Col. I\Ieade, of Kentucky, can furnish me."
As Col. Trumbull seems to have been faitiif ul, pains-takinj^,
and conscientious, it is but fair to conclude, that he painted
the Harrison portrait from the sui^^estiuns of Gen. Harrison
and Col. IMeade, and that his drawing was submitted to
them, and met their approval. Mr. IJrotherhead very per-
tinently asks: " Is it not better that we should have a por-
trait of Harrison under these conditions than have none at
all':'"' We may fairly infer, as we hear of no similar cases,
that Col. Trumbull met Vv'ith no otl»er obstacles in the i)ro-
curement of the forty-eig'ht portraits introduced into his great
picture. The fullest confidence may be reposed in the in-
tegrity of Trumbull, and the genuineness of liis portraits.

Of the other thirteen whose heads do not appear in the
Declaration painting, eight had passeil away before Col.
Trumbull commenced securing likenesses for this purpose —
Gwinnett, ]\Iorton, lioss. Hart, Taylor, lludney. Stone, and
Penn. Hall survived till 17'JU; Francis Lightfoot, Lee, and
Braxton, till I7U7; Thornton till 18u:;, and Smith till isoc.
Why these five survivors were not visited by him, and
painted, is a matter of surprise and regret.

It was not till early in 1817, that Col. Trumbull received
from Congress a commission to paint this, and three other
historical pictui-es, for the lt)tunda of the Capitol. The
painting of the Signers was first completed — in Octo-
ber, 1818, when it was placed on public exhibition. Durand
was employed in 18;.'U to engrave it; but it was not published
till 18:i2, and is the original of the millions of copies of all
sizes which have since been in circulation.

In 1811), William Hunt prepared the Biographical Pano-
rama, printed by Joel Munsell, Albany, and illustrated with
woodcuts, in which, among others, were includetl the thir-
teen deficienccs of Trumbull's picture. In 1870, :Mr. lUirns
commenced the publication of portraits of twenty-two of
the Signers, from drawings in the collection of Dr. Emmet.
They were copied and engraved or etched by II. B. Hall, and
more especially designed for purposes of illustration. The



Autographs of the Signers. 3U1

twenty-two were made up of Bartlett, Tliornton, Whipple,
EUery, Hopkins, Williams, Lewis Alorris, Clark, Hart,
Stockton, Smith, Taylor, Rodney, iiraxton, Harrison, F. L.
Lee, Nelson, Hooper, Penn, (Iwinnet.t, ILiU, and AValton;
and Mr. Burns added liutledge from S.uiilerson's Lives of
the Signers — thus supplying;-, in the number, ten of tiio
thirteen dehciences of Trumbull, leaving only Koss, Stone,
and j\Iorton unrepresented. Fifty sets of these Burns en-
gravings were issued, when the plates were destroyed.

Inquiries liaviny been made concerning the origin of
some of these twenty- two Burns engraving.'^, notably that
that of Hart, prompted Dr. Eaitnet to writea statment of the
matter, in October, 187 *, to a friend, which has never been
published; and which he has recently amended and enlarged
ai the instance of the writer of this paper. As thus cor-
rected, it is well worthy of a place in this connection:

*'I am very much obliged to you," writes Dr. Emmet, '' for
giving me the opportunity of explanation in regard to the
origin of these Burns engravings, as I have been placed in
a somewhat false position with reference to them. i<'or
many years, I have been illustrating Sanderson's Lives of
the Signers, having had the whole book inlaid to folio; and,
with the illustrations, it has now reached some twenty vol-
ums. As but a small portion of the portraits of these gen-
tlemen had ever been engraved, I had beautiful water-
colored drawings made by H. B. Hall of all the Signers
given in Trumbull's large picture at the Capitol at Washing-
ton, which contained all but thirteen of the lifty six. They
were copied from the original painting.

"There is a portrait given of Stockton, and also of Wil-
liams, in this Trumbull picture; but the Stockton engravetl
for Burns, was copied from a likeness sent me by his grand-
daughter, J\lrs. (Idorge T. Olmsted, of Princeton — the same
picture that is in Princeton College Gallery. The head of
this portrait had been cut out by an English ofilcer during
the Revolution, and it v/as thought for a long time to have
been lost, but was at length found behind the picture where
it had fallen when decapitated; but fortunately it was not
80 injured but that it could be, and was, restored.



392 Wisconsin State Historical Society.

" The EUery, in the American JJ log rapJi leal Panoraina,
printed by Joel Munsell, in l^t'J, for Wtn. Hunt, I found was
the same as ftivcn in an unfinished plate, about the size of
TrunibuU"s, from v/hich I have tlie only impression I ever
saw — the plate itself, in a dama;^ed conditiou, is, I am told
in the Massachusetts Historical Society. Of its history I
know nothiu^.

" The Thornton likeness in the Hunt work was recognized
by relatives as having been copied from a minature then lost.

"The Williams was taken from a recently published his-
tory of the Willlaiiis Fainilij. It resembles very closely
the wood-cut in the Hunt work, and both have the same
peculiar manner of wearing the hair. The Francis Light-
foot Lee in Hunt's book, was evidently from the same source
that Lossing obtained his, as given in the frontispiece to the
second volume of his Field Book; the Burns engraving of
Lee was from the Lossing copy. The Bartlett, in the Burns
series, corresponded with a likeness I had traced to his fain-
ily. The Hall likeness was taken from Brotherhead's Jk)ok
on the Signers; while the Hart, Braxton, Gwinnett, Penn,
and Thornton, were taken from engravings in Hunt's pub-
lication, which were copied to complete my series, and my
friends, and all who have seen the collection, are familiar
with their source.

"After Burns issued the series, a great grandson of Hart
•wrote to know from what source I had obtained my copy,
as it was recognized by other members of the family as a
copy of the original which had been lost. A IMr. Thornton,
then an olficer of the army, wrote to Mr. T. B. Myers, of
New York, for information regarding the lost original, stat-
ing that the Burns engraving bore a remarkable resem-
blance to different members of the Hart family. I after-
wards had a correspondence w^ith a Hart descendant, a
lawyer in Newburyport, who had been struck with the fam-
ily resemblance, and wished to learn from what source it
had been obtained. Since then, the Hart family have had a
portrait painted from this engraving, and presented to the
State of New Jersey, which now hangs in the capitol at
Trenton.



Autoc;rai'iis of the SiriNEUs.



393



"Compare the Braxton profile engravinc,^ as published by
Burns from tlie Hunt work, with the fuUfaced etching re-
cently issued, and there can be no doubt that bjth Ukenesses
were from tlie same original.

-There are o.her carious circarnUa.ic3S and corrobora-
tions in regard to these Hunt likenesses, althuagh so roughly
executed. That of Lesvis Morris is a case in pomt. I liad
never before seen a portrait of Morris, except in Trumbull s
picture as a young man; and tliis Hunt representation boars
a remarkable resemblance to his descendants now living in
New York, with whom I have b^en personally acquainted
both in tlie present and past generation.'

-A Miss Morris, of the family of Lewis Morns, Jr., hab ,
stated to me, that the portrait of Lewis Morris, the Signer,
^.hich this wood-cut in Kant so ch)sely resemble.., had been
for many years in the possession of her father, near \N ill-
town, South Carolina; but during Sherman s march, a party
of oflicers stopped at the house to obtain some refreshm.aits,
which was prepared by the ladies of the family, who were
alone. After the meal, one of the ollicers arose from the
table and with his sword destroyed this picture as he left
tl:e room. Miss Morris, on being shown the Hunt likeness
of her ancestor, the Signer, said that it had evidently been
copied from the family portrait.

"The Morton was not engraved from the Hunt work, as
his descendants held, that there never had been a portrait
painted of him. Yet I now think, that this evidence proves
nothing, except that they do not hai)pen to know of any;
for it was the custom of the day for every public man to
have his portrait painted — and the family portraits wen;
about the only wall decorations in use.

"The Smith and Taylor were copi(>d from two woodcuts,

'Lobsiiig. ill his Field Book, .and Brotherliejul, in two fdilious of his
Book of the Signers, .sul.stanti.illy coi.y Tru.alrall; thou-li lh-otheriit>a.l, in
the lii'.st edition of liis wori:, r.-ver^es the view. W. A. P. M.niis, of Mad-
ison, Wi.s., a grandson of ihe Signer, lias a likeness of liis fatlier, Uen. Ja-
cob Morris; and botli faili.Taud son, in additi^.n to their baldness, indi-
cate otlier points of n-.e-nbl mce to b >th tlio Mn-rii engraving in the
Burns' series, and the Trumbull picture.
2G-H. C.



891



AYiscoNsix\ State ITistokical Societv.



T/hich I purcliasctl, among some odds and ends, at tlie Tefft
sale of auto<;-rapli.-, in ]\[arc]i, is>;;'; and vv(,n-t) of m ich larger
size, and of oMer date, but evidently from the same SDiiree
as the wood cuts in the Hunt book — fr jm soni'j older work
from wliich tiiey were co[)ieil. The authenticity ot these
likenesses, however, must remain in do lijt. 1 was surprised
to find, that the Tetft wood-cuts of !Smil.h and Taylor, ami
the likenesses in Hunt's hook were evident]}^ from the same
source, though the Hunt ones were only about half tiie sizti
of the Tefft cuts. While this was on my mind, Dr. r>. J.
Lossing i)aid me a visit; and as he h.id been an engraver, 1
jshowed him one of the Telft wood cuts, aiid askel him if
he knew anything about them. He pointed to the engrav-
er's name on the block, showing that the period when these
cuts were matle antedated Hunt's work — the engraver dy-
ing about ]S\*0. These two woodcuts have since been lost.

"TheKfulney was the only 'make-ap' of the whole set
issued by Jhirns. Jt was done by St. ^leniiji, from the por-
ti-ait of the Signer's nephew, Ca_Mar A. l\,)dney, whose jjro-
hle bore a remarkabh} resemblance to his uncle, as 1 hid
been informed hy different members of his family.

"'liegarding Hunt's I'ldiunini'i,^') oi't:U] i-(;fei"reil to in con-
nection with tlie Ihirns engravin^-s, I ni ly add, that it was
evidently written for the purpose of using a number of odd
plates and wood-blocks of dilfertuit styles, originally gotti^n
up for other purposes. Munsell tol I me, thit h') kutiw noih-
ing of the origin of the portraits, beyond the fact that he
liad to take a lot o^ old plates for a bad debt, and these
■vvere among the collection — and the book was written to
Utilize them.

"And yet Mr. Munsell has, in a playful way, state'd in the
catalogue of his imi)rints, tiiat tiiese engravings were the
result of the imagination of a >oung ]Ongii^ll artist, closeted
in a I'oom, and inspired by beer and tobacco. 1 never saw
a man laugh more heartily than ]v[unsell dirl, when telling
the late l'\ S. Holfnum and myself iiow easily lie gulled a
friend of his with the story of shutting up an English en-
i^iaver to prepare a set of the Signers for him; that this
friend seemed to want something of the kind, so he gave
him a tough yarn.



AUTOOKAPIIS OF THE SiaXEUS. 395

" But, instead of these Hunt engraviii<?s being a cheat and
deception, it is evident tluit those of them witli ^vhich we
are familiar, are fair, as regards liki.'uesses, though very
pooily executed. The vohnne is iilled with poitraits, and
many of them we can identify by comparison witli oilier
likenesses, so that it is evident that the artist had an oiig-
inal to co}»y from in almost every instance.

•• Mr. Burns did a good work in adding so many authentic
portraits, while the uncertain ones, to complete the series,
were done by re(iuest, for illustrations. 1 wish that we had
authentic poitiaits for the whole number; but until they
can be found, 1 siuiU be satisfied with what 1 have, feeling
that full justice has been done them in the ideal, if ever
proved so. 1 believe that portraits once existed of the whole;
for the custom was too general at the time these men lived,
and th*iy may yet be found. But until then, no one can say
positively, that some of thest; i)ortraits ai'e witiumt founda-
tion — for the opposite opinion could be as well held."

These views of Dr. Eannet are thoughtful and judicious.
Another well-known and intelligent collector, lu)l)erfc (.!.
Davis, of rhiladeljdiia, remarks: '* Some of I\tr. ihirns'
series of the Signei's are doubtful; but if we desire to illus-
trate their writings, what l;etter can we do":'" We may feel
thankful that we have so many lik(;iiesses of the Signers
that are of such well-established excellence and authenticity ;
and of the few uncei-tain ones, we may very i)roperly treas-
ure them in our illustrations until more reliable ones can be
discovered.

One such discovery has recently occurred, as is learned
from :\lr. Charles Uoberts, of Philadelphia, who writes: "At
the New Orleans Exhibition of ]SS5, 1 found a i)hotograph
of Carter Braxton, in the Virginia display. On impiiry, at
Kichmond, it turned out to be genuine, and we have etched it.'
Dr. Fogg, of Boston, writes that, in his oj^inion, tlui J>artlett
likeness of the Hall series bears no resemblamre to the j)aiut-
ing of that Signer by Trumbull, preserved in the old home-
stead at Stratham, N. 11., which has been engraved at private
hands, a copy of which he sent to the Wisconsin Historical
Society. It is believed, too, that there is a likeness of Lynch



39G Wisconsin State Historical Society.

extant, as it has been promised by his friends for Indepen-
dence Hall.

i\Ii<>ht it not be better to have tlie ^[ortoti likeness, from
Hunt's raaoranni re produce J, or one mide from promi-
nent family traits sag<4'osteLl by its members, rather thau
have none at all?

Since l)r. Emmet penned his t^tatemeni, touching Ifunt's
Panonuna and its engravings of the Signers, he calls at-
tention to the fact, wiii«.'li h(3 had overlooked, that wliile
Hunt's work appeared in 1.^19, Dr. l.Ohsing liad published
eciflij in the p)-eccdniij ijvai-, his Lires of the Si/jner.s, giving
forty-nine v/ood cuts of the Signers, lacking only Thornton,
Hart, ^lorton, Kodney, IJraxton, Penn and (Jwinnett; and
what is significant, is, that all of these forty-nine likenes.-^es,
together with that of K. R. Livingston, are picciscly the
same as those in Hunt's book, with slight changes, in some
instances, in bust or costume, but not in facial expression.
Dr. Lossing must have had good foundation for all these
representations — giving six more than Trumbull: so that
Hunt, after all copying from Lossing, had high authority
.for most of the wood-cut engravings of the Signers given in
his Paiiorania.

The Ellery, Lewis IMorris, Smith and Taylor likenesses
discussed by ])r. Knunet, are thus shown to have been ori-
ginally brought forward by Dr. Lossing, a year in advance
of Hunt. While in his work on the tii(j tiers, Lossing gives
George Taylor, as copied by ILmt; yet from mere accident
this Taylor likeness was omitted in hisengraving of the
Signers, prefixed to the second volume of his Field Boole of
the lievolatiou, published four years later.

Dr. Emmet makes reference to Mr, Lossing's likeness of
Francis Lightfoot Lee in his representation of the Signers.
Much credit is due Dr. Lossing for tlie pains ho took in per-
fecting this engraving. Eorty-eight of the Signers are rep-
resented in the picture, together with K. 11. Livingston, one
of tlie Declaration committee, not present at the signing. Be-
sides F. L. Lee, Dr. Lossing introduces four others, not given
byTrumbuU — Smith, Ross, Stone and Hall, The eight not
appearing on Lossing's picture are Thornton, Hart, Taylor,
Morton, Rodney, Braxton, Penn and Gwinnett.



Autographs of the Signeks. 307

Aside from the group of the JU'claratioii committee, Dr.
Lossing thinks he did not copy largely from Trumbull. In
his extensive travels over our country in quest of historical
matter, and while visiting the families of the Signers, he,
with the eye of an artibt, not unfrecjuently discovered better
delineations, anil thus availed himself of his rare opportuni-
ties for improvement, But after a lapse of forty years, and
having gathereil and engraved so many Imndred likenesses,
he writes that he cannot at this late da}^, recall the sources
from which he obtained them. His jjicture of the yigners
must ever be regarded as invaluable by all who take an in-
tei't'st in the pictorial literature of the country.

])r. J'^mmet also refers to the isllery likeness in Hunt's
Panoraiim as being the same as tiiat given in an unfinished
plates in possession (jf tlie [Massachusetts Historical Society.
At the sale of the literary etfects, some ten or a dozen
years ago, of the late W. P. Wiggins, a book-dealer of Bos-
ton, ?>[r. l^>urns, of New York, i)urcluised a copy of an en-
graving of the Signing of the Declaration, very ditferent
from Trumbull's, some of the Signers having only the
heads, but the plate contained a large number of the Sign-
ers; that ;Mr. AViggins, learning of the plate, got permission
to have a few impi-essions taken from it. Dr. Emmet has
the impression obtained bv Ltr. liiirns. Dr. S. A. Cireen
states, that the uufinished copper plate, about twenty-two
by twenty- eight inches in size, was presentetl tt) tiie i\Iassa-
chusetts IHstorical Society m ISo'J, b}' Hun. Leverett Salton-
stall, who says that he obtained it from the treasurer of the
Revere Copper Company, of Boston. The treasurer received
it among a lot of scrap copper, and was curious to learn
something of its history; but was unable to discover any-
tliing. The artist is unknown, and the plate itself reveals
nothing of its origin.

The i\[orton engraving in ?Iunt's BuxjvapUical Panorama,
Mr. Charles Rol)ert3 writes, does not, he is informed, resem-
ble the family. '' I remember," he adds, "John S. JMorton,
who lived near us, and our families visited, I understand
that he made every effort to obtain a portrait of his ances-
tor, the Signer, but without success; and placed a tablet in-



39S Wisconsin State TTistouical Sochcty.

stead in Indeijendonco Hall. T am satisfied that there is no
authentic i)Oitrait of Morton." Mv. StaufFor ad<ls: *' There
is no portrait extant of ]\r()rton,save one throui^h aniedium-
istic source — tho family have none; every branch liaviiifj
been diligently intorviovvei]."

The late JJ. 15. Thatcher, of Boston, a noted lilferdtcnr and
autograph collector of his day, doLil ii-ed, over lifty years
ago, that the formation of a set of autographs of the Signers
of the Declaration of liukipendence was I he iw. [tins nltra of
American collectors — many having atrempted it, and but
few succeeded. J>rotherhead, in his monograpli on his visit to
]\rr. Dreer's collection of autogi-ai)h.s, in lsr)7, speaking of
his full set of the Signers, adds: " We know many indus-
trious collectors, and they find it very diflicult to collect
even those that are considered the most common. In a few
^'■ears, such a collection will bring an extrordinary ijrice;"'
and in the first edition of his Book of the t)i'(juei\'^, l:st;], he
says: " JJoth at home and abroad, every document, letter,
or signature from the hand of a Signer, lias become valua-
ble; and the autographs of some of these worthies, it is almost
impossible to obtain. A complete set is of the extreinest
rarity" — adding, that autographs of Ileyward, Ross, Har-
rison, Hall, Livingston and Hopkins are scarce; whih? those
of Lewis i\lorris, Stockton, Hart, .Aforton, Taylor, AVythe,
Penn, Hewes Lynch, ^liddleton, and (jr^vinnett " are almost
impossible to obtain, even a signature; and that others are
becoming rare, and bear a high value in proportion to their
scarcity." Mr. ]5iirns d(;clared, in 1S70, when the sujjply



Online LibraryState Historical Society of Wisconsin cnCollections - State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Volume 10) → online text (page 35 of 58)