Today, the New York and Connecticut State Quarter Coins remember when the people removed the statue of George III on July 9, 1776, and sent it to Litchfield, Connecticut to make bullets out of its lead.
From the History of the Town of Litchfield, Connecticut by George C. Woodruff, published in 1845:
Some contemporary notices of the destruction of this effigy have been pointed out to me, which I will cite, and which will show that Watson was wrong not merely as to the person, but as to the time of its occurrence, which was immediately after the news of the declaration of Independence.
The first is from a book of general orders issued by Washington, the original of which is in the possession of the Society.
It is as follows:
“July 10. Tho’ the General doubts not the persons who pulled down and mutilated the statue in Broadway last night, acted in the public cause, yet it has so much the appearance of riot and want of order in the army, that he disapproves the manner and directs that in future these things shall be avoided by the soldiery and left to be executed by proper authority.”
The next is in a letter from Ebenezer Hazard to General Gates, dated July 12th, 1776, which will be found among the Gates papers, also in the Society’s Collection, and is as follows:
“The King of England’s arms have been burned in Philadelphia and his statue here has been pulled down to make musket balls of, so that his troops will probably have melted majesty fired at them.”
Another is in a letter from New York, of July 11th, 1776, published in the New Hampshire Gazette of the 20th.
“New York, July 11. Last Monday evening the equestrian statue of George III., with Tory pride and folly raised in the year 1770, was by the Sons of Freedom laid prostrate in the dust, the just desert of an ungrateful tyrant. The lead wherewith this monument is made is to be run into bullets, to assimilate with the brains of our infatuated adversaries, who to gain a peppercorn, have lost an empire. Quem Deus vult perdere, privs dementat. A gentleman who was present at the ominous fall of leaden majesty, looking back to the original’s hopeful beginning, pertinently exclaimed in the language of the angel to Lucifer ‘If thou be’est he, but ah, how fallen! how changed!!
A note to this letter by the editor marks the allusion to Lord Clare’s declaration in Parliament, that a peppercorn in acknowledgement of Britain’s right to tax America, was of more importance than millions without it.
The destruction of the statue is also alluded to and incorrectly attributed to General Washington in a smutty Tory production, entitled “The Battle of Brooklyn, a farce in two acts, as it was performed on Long Island, on Tuesday, the 27th day of August, 1776, by the Representatives of the Tyrants of America assembled at Philadelphia: New York, printed for J. Rivington, in the year of the Rebellion, 1776.”
The document I have mentioned gives an account of its remaining history in a shape which history seldom assumes, that of an account current.
It is preserved among the papers of General, afterwards Governor, Oliver Wolcott, of Connecticut.
It is a statement of the number of cartridges made from the materials of the statue by the ladies of Litchfield, and is in these words:—
Mrs. Marvin, 3456 cartridges.
Mrs. Marvin on former account, 2602 = 6058
Ruth Marvin on former account, 6204
Not sent to court house 449 packs, 5388 = 11,592
Laura, on former account, 4250
Not sent to court house 344 packs, 4128 = 8378
Mary Ann, on former account, 5762
Not sent to the court house 119 packs, out of which I let Colonel Perley Howe have 3 packs, 5028 = 10,790
Frederick, on former account, 708
Not sent to court house, 19 packs, 228 = 936
Total = 37,754
Mrs. Beach’s two accounts, 2002
Made by sundry persons, 2182
Gave Litchfield militia, on alarm, 50
Let the regiment of Col. Wigglesworth have 300
Cartridges, No. 42,288
Overcharged in Mrs. Beach’s account, 200
Total = 42,088
The original account is in General Wolcott’s hand writing, and is endorsed “an account of the number of cartridges made.”
There is no date to it, nor is there mention made by him of the fact of their being made from the statue, but a memorandum added by his son, the last Governor Wolcott, explains it as follows:—
“N. B. An equestrian statue of George the Third of Great Britain, was erected in the city of New York on the Bowling Green, at the lower end of Broadway; most of the materials were lead, but richly gilded to resemble gold. At the beginning of the revolution this statue was overthrown. Lead being then scarce and dear, the statue was broken in pieces, and the metal transported to Litchfield as a place of safety. The ladies of this village converted the lead into cartridges, of which the preceding is an account. O. W.”
The Mrs. and Miss Marvin and Mrs. Beach, mentioned in the paper, belonged to families who yet reside in Litchfield; the other persons named were the two daughters and the youngest son of General Wolcott.
The New York and Connecticut State Quarter Coins show with an artist’s portrayal of the removal of the George III statue on July 9, 1776.