CHAUNCEY IVES’S BUST OF WINFIELD SCOTT –
DELIVERED JUST AS SCOTT IS ABOUT TO BE NOMINATED FOR THE PRESIDENCY
WINFIELD SCOTT. Autograph Document Signed, Washington [DC], 17 June 1852. With an Autograph Document Signed by THOMAS WILLIAMS, Fort Mackinac MI, 28 June 1852. Both on the verso of a partly-printed bill of lading, 5½" x 10½".
A distinguished American army officer, Winfield Scott commanded forces in the War of 1812, winning a promotion to general, and in the Mexican War, where he led the successful campaign from Veracruz to Mexico City. As general-in-chief of the U. S. army from 1841 to 1861, he did much to professionalize the military. Scott’s Civil War service was limited; seventy-four years old when the conflict started, he retired in November 1861, but he accurately predicted, in his famous Anaconda Plan, the overall strategy that would be needed to defeat the South.
This document relates to the bust of Scott that was carved by Chauncey B. Ives (1810-1894) about 1851. An American neoclassical sculptor, Ives first worked in New Haven, Boston, and New York, producing many portrait busts, but in 1844, he went to Italy for his health. He spent the rest of his career there, continuing to make portrait busts of visiting Americans, but also putting into marble plaster busts that he had modeled at home. It is likely that the bust of Scott discussed here fell into this latter category. (See Ives's profile in American National Biography.)
The front of this partly-printed bill of lading consigns to the ship Niagara “One Case cont[ainin]g a marble bust measuring cub ft 13.6,” and marked “Gen W S a marble bust New York.” The case is to be transported from Leghorn to New York, and the shipping charges, to be paid by the recipient, are detailed. This document is dated 16 August 1851 and is signed by the ship’s master, J. B. Haynes.
On the verso, Winfield Scott has penned instructions for delivery of the bust. “Deliver the within mentioned marble must [bust] of myself, by Mr. Ives, a native of New York, now temporarily at work as a sculptor in Rome & Florence – to the order of Major Thomas Williams, U. S. Army, who will pay all charges &c. Winfield Scott Washington, June 17, 1852.”
The date of Scott’s directive is noteworthy – he was on the verge of being selected as the Whig candidate for President. The Whigs opened their convention in Baltimore on June 17, the very day that Scott penned this document, and three days later, they would choose him as their nominee for the 1852 Presidential race.
Below Scott’s instruction, the army officer he mentions, THOMAS WILLIAMS, has written a further order, dated Fort Mackinac, Michigan, 28 June 1852. He directs, “Please deliver the marble-bust to Sidney Brooks, Esqr, N. York,” and has signed, “Thos: Williams, Majr. U.S.A.” Williams was a career army officer who fought in the Mexican War and who served for some years as aide-de-camp to Scott. As a Union general in the Civil War, he fought in North Carolina and then along the Mississippi and was killed in action in August 1862 in Baton Rouge. His autograph is rare.
The bill of lading contains a small, attractive vignette of a sailing ship printed in the top left margin. The piece has some very minor staining and slight showthrough of ink, but is in very good condition overall. $750.00
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