Edward Everett – Boston 4th of July 1860 Oration Medalet

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by johnmilton, Dec 4, 2023.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    EE 1860-4 All.jpg

    Everett is most often remembered as the guy who spoke before Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Everett’s oration, which lasted for two hours, was to be THE Gettysburg Address, but Lincoln’s two minute address upstaged him in the history books.

    Edward Everett had a most impressive resume. As a Whig Party politician, he served in the United States House and Senate, was the Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain and secretary of state. He also taught at Harvard University and served as that institution’s president. He was one of the great orators of his day. He speeches were widely praised and much anticipated. It is therefore not surprising that Everett was one of many speakers, chosen through the years, to give one of the annual 4th of July orations that were presented in Boston.

    The tradition of the 4th of July Oration started in 1783. That year the Boston City Council voted to replace the annual observance of the Boston Massacre with a more upbeat celebration of the birth of the nation. Through the years, often more than one speaker was chosen to deliver address at various locations in the city. Those locations included the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the Tremont Temple and the Old South Meeting House.

    Boston die maker, Joseph Merriam,** commemorated Everett’s 1860 oration with a medal. The obverse features a bust of Everett with his name and his date of birth, April 11, 1794. The reverse features the phrase, “Boston July Fourth Oration by Everett,” encircled by a wreath.

    This piece is scarce, but it is not a major rarity. Years ago, I owned a beat-up example in white metal, and I have seen three others offered for sale. This piece, which is now in my collection is made of brass.

    This piece is not listed in the DeWitt/Sullivan book on 19th century presidential campaign medalets, but it should have been. Since three other John Bell items, which are related to Everett, listed in the book, I have added it with the code EE 1860-4.

    The Constitutional Union Party had met in May 1860 and nominated John Bell for president and Edward Everett as his running mate. Known as “the old gentlemen’s party,” the Constitutional Unionists ran on the platform that the laws that were in place could deal with slavery and the secessionist crisis. Their support came from border and southern states that were tentative about seceding from the Union before the firing on Fort Sumter. They received 39 Electoral votes from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and just 13% of the popular vote.

    After the election, Bell met with Lincoln and continued to support staying in the Union. After the firing on Fort Sumter, his support wavered. He became concerned that the Union Army would invade Tennessee, his state, and thought that Lincoln had deceived him. Ultimately, he gave a fiery to secessionist supporters in Knoxville, Tennessee, which cost him many of his old friends. After that, he retired from public life. John Bell died in 1869.

    Edward Everett vigorously supported the Union. He continued to travel around the North giving speeches that supported the Union cause. He died in January 1865 after contracting a very bad cold. He had expended a great deal of energy while giving three hours of court testimony about some property he owned in Winchester, Massachusetts. He was 71 years old.

    It is interesting to note that Merriam used this same Everett die as the reverse for a piece that he issued for the John Bell campaign.

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    ** Joseph Merriam is best known to collectors as the die sinker who made the "Good for a scent" token. That piece is now very popular and quite expensive.

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    Last edited: Dec 4, 2023
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  3. lardan

    lardan Supporter! Supporter

    I have to admit never heard of these gentlemen prior to your thread. Thanks for the write-up and photos.
    johnmilton likes this.
  4. BuffaloHunter

    BuffaloHunter Short of a full herd Supporter

    Your love of history shines in all you post, this being another fine example. Thanks for sharing!
    LakeEffect, lardan and johnmilton like this.
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