How to Use
Reading 4: The Minute Man Statue
For the nation’s 1876 centennial celebration the town of Concord wanted to commemorate its role in the nation’s birth. Ebenezer Hubbard, a Concord resident, had died recently and left in his will a thousand dollars to the town. He wanted the town to use his money to commission a memorial for the spot where the Americans fell on April 19, 1775. A prominent Concord resident, John S. Keyes, suggested that a local sculptor and family friend named Daniel Chester French create “a model for a large figure for a monument on the hill where the minute men assembled for the Concord fight.” The town set up a committee in 1872 and gave the committee a year to decide what form the monument should take. The committee’s report to the town suggested it “procure a statue of a Continental Minute Man, cut in granite, and erected on a proper foundation.” The committee also recommend that the design include the first stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn on its base:
The committee decided that 25-year-old French should make the statue after the committee approved of his model. He worked on his small scale model from April to June in 1873 and the committee approved of his design. The city formally awarded the commission to French in November. This was French’s first full scale statue and he drew inspiration from classical antiquity’s Apollo Belvidere, a sculpture to the Greek god Apollo. French admired the stance and incorporated it into his statue. The Minute Man figure’s right knee is flexed, with the right foot pushing off the ground, and the left leg is slightly flexed, with the left foot planted firmly on the ground. This position suggests forward motion.
Questions for Reading 4
1) Why did residents of Concord want to erect a statue to commemorate the fight at the North Bridge?
2) What items does French use to convey the image and ideals of the minute men? What does each item mean?
3) How successful do you think Daniel Chester French was in conveying the idea of the minute man? Why?
4) Would you have chosen a different theme or symbolism? Why or why not?
Reading 4 was adapted from several primary sources including Journey Into Fame: The Story of Daniel Chester French (1948) by Margaret French Cresson, The History of American Sculpture (1903) by Lorado Taft, Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields (1991) by Edward T. Linenthal, and Michael Richman’s Daniel Chester French: An American Sculptor (1976) by The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
1 Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York, Boston, Thomas Y. Crowell & Company: 1899.