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To the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee :
The undersigned were appointed commissioners to superintend the erection of a marble or granite base for the equestrian statue of Gen. Andrew Jackson, the sum of $2,000 being appropriated for that purpose by the thirtieth section of an Act of Assembly passed the 6th day of April, 1881.
The money was not drawn from the treasury, and the execution of this trust was intentionally delayed in the hope that the last General Assembly would enlarge the appropriation, the presumption being that $2,000 was a sum inadequate to remove and replace the statue, and, also, in addition, defray other costs and charges necessarily attendant upon the substitution of another pedestal. This expectation was not realized, and, though the wooden structure showed no signs of decay, and might for some years have sustained the incumbent weight, upon a conference held by the undersigned commissioners, it was resolved that we should proceed with such means as were at our disposal in the discharge of the trust with which we had been honored. On the 6th day of October, 1883, a contract was entered into with Mr. P. Swan, of the city of Nashville, who, for the sum of $2,000, agreed to remove and replace the statue, build foundation, furnish all labor and materials, and erect a marble base according to a design presented by him and acceptable to the commissioners. The contract, and also the receipt of said Swan for the money, accompany this report in a separate paper marked " exhibit A,” and are herewith presented to your honorable body. An examination of the agreement will show that the payment of the money and the acceptance of the work by the commissioners do not immediately release the contractor from liability in case time should disclose any defective workmanship, there being a stipulation which operates as a continuing guaranty, that the pedestal shall remain firm and stable, and possess a durability equal to the base under a similar statue standing on the capitol grounds in the city of Washington. The height and width of pedestal, length and breadth of marble slab on top, and other dimensions correspond almost entirely with the dimensions of the base on which rests the statue of equal weight in Washington.
The contract was, in our opinion, faithfully carried out, except one small instance, which does not in any degree affect the strength or durability of the work—the letters which compose the name Jackson should have been carved on one single piece of marble as was expressly specified in the contract. In consideration, however, of the excellent manner in which the work, with this exception, was performed, we did not consider that this inadvertence or oversight on the part of the contractor was cause sufficient to justify or require us to withhold any part of the price agreed to be paid, especially as the contract was barely remunerative and involved a heavy responsibility, the penalty for any damage being stipulated at the sum of $10,000. There was a necessity, of course, to separate the figures into their original segments, a most difficult and delicate labor, in the performance of which our home mechanics had hitherto had no experience, but, we are glad to report, the task was successfully accomplished, and the segments afterwards rejoined, neither figure sustaining any injury or damage whatsoever.
Allow us to say, in conclusion, that upon a view of the pedestal, after all the work had been completed, we rather felicitated ourselves that the appropriation had not been of any greater magnitude. The work is plain but substantial, and sufficiently massive; not subject to criticism, because there is no attempt to display, while, had larger means been at our disposal, the ornamentation might have been excessive, or, perhaps, conceived in bad taste. The statue as a work of art has incurred some measure of criticism ; whether justly or unjustly matters not to the people of Tennessee, who will look upon this conception of the artist as an effort to symbolize the greatness of one who was no less distinguished in peace than in war.