Robert Shaw was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1837. A strong opponent of slavery he enlisted in the Union Army on the outbreak of the American Civil War.
In April, 1863, Shaw assumed command of the 54th Massachusetts, the first African American regiment to take part in the fighting.
Robert Shaw was killed in July, 1863, while leading a charge on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Shaw and his regiment are memorialized in a low-relief sculpture by Saint-Gaudens on Boston Common.
A film about Shaw, Glory, was released in 1990.
Over his long career Robert Lawson Shaw became perhaps classical music's best-known choral conductor, and an important orchestral conductor as well. Born in 1916, Shaw was the son of a clergyman, and his mother sang in church choirs. As a young man he filled in as a choir leader on occasion, but did not plan a musical career, studying philosophy and comparative religion at Pomona College in suburban Los Angeles. During his freshman year, the leader of the college glee club fell ill, and he was asked by other members to substitute. After he had been at the helm for a time, a film happened to be shot on campus, and Fred Waring, the well-known pop choral director, was in the cast. Hearing Shaw's glee club, he offered him a job, and Shaw accepted after he graduated.
Shaw founded his own pop group, the Collegiate Chorale, but soon began adding classical music to its repertoire. Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky heard Shaw and, despite Shaw's relative inexperience, hired him to prepare his choirs. Then the great Arturo Toscanini invited Shaw and the Collegiate Chorale to join his NBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The results made Shaw's reputation.
Shaw then founded the 42-voice Robert Shaw Chorale, perhaps the first full-time professional choir in the U.S. unconnected with a religious institution. Meanwhile he studied music theory, piano, and conducting technique. For eighteen years the Chorale toured incessantly and made many successful recordings, including some well-loved arrangements of Christmas favorites.
In 1953 he accepted a position conducting mainly light music with the San Diego Symphony. In 1956 George Szell invited Shaw to build a chorus to match the standards of his Cleveland Orchestra, rapidly on the rise. Shaw accepted the post, and in the process also took formal and informal lessons with Szell.
In 1966 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra invited Shaw to become its next music director. During twenty years at its helm he built its quality and reputation to high international levels. When he took over in 1967, Atlanta was still essentially a segregated city. In his first year, Shaw established a week-long residency for the orchestra at Spelman College, one of Atlanta's historically black colleges. He also frequently conducted in the city's churches, black and white. In 1972 he gave the world premiere of Scott Joplin's opera, Treemonisha.
When Shaw's first five-year contract was up, the orchestra board voted not to renew his appointment because of the large quantity of twentieth century music he played, citing poor ticket sales. Within two weeks, however, 3,500 new subscribers sent in season-ticket checks, all bearing the notation that they were contingent on Shaw remaining the conductor.
Shaw was an extremely tough conductor. He raged, especially at the chorus members. He posted a formal letter after every choral rehearsal, chiding the singers and exhorting them onward. Koussevitzky once said he was "amazed that any group of adults would willingly endure such tyrannical treatment from a conductor." Shaw and the orchestra recorded for the Telarc label. He retired from the Atlanta podium in 1988 and was proclaimed conductor laureate, continuing to conduct regularly. He also made numerous guest appearances as a conductor, appearing in his signature midnight blue rather than black tails. Shaw spent four months a year in the village of Dordogne, France, where he conducted the Robert Shaw Institute and festival, sponsored by The Ohio State University.
Shaw died in 1999 of a massive stroke suffered while he attended a play directed by his youngest son. During his career he won thirteen Grammy awards and the 1991 Kennedy Center Honors.
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Robert Shaw - History
Robert Shaw liked to drink. Indeed, the actor, author and playwright liked to drink a lot. And it often led to some disastrous consequences.
During the making of Jaws, Robert Shaw had an alcohol-induced blackout during the filming of that famous S.S. Indianapolis speech. Shaw had convinced director Steven Spielberg that as the three characters in the scene (played by Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss) had been drinking, it might be an idea to have a wee chaser before filming, just to get him in the mood. Spielberg agreed. It was an unwise decision as Shaw drank so much he had to be carried back onto the set. Hardly any filming took place that day, and Spielberg wrapped the crew at eleven in the morning.
Later that night, in the wee small hours, a panicked Shaw ‘phoned Spielberg to ask if he had done anything embarrassing as he could not remember what had happened. And would the director let him film the scene again?
The next day, a sober and contrite Shaw turned up early for work and delivered one of cinema’s most memorable speeches.
“Drink?” Shaw once famously said in 1977, “Can you imagine being a movie star and having to take it seriously without a drink?”
“I agree with Richard Burton that drink gives poetry to life. Drink for actors is an occupational hazard born largely out of fear.”
The stories of Shaw’s alcoholic excesses, often abusive behavior, and on-set pranks can sometimes overshadow his quality as an actor and his talent as a writer. The academic John Sutherland has pointed out Shaw was a far better writer than many of the best-selling authors whose books inspired the films he starred in, particularly Pete Benchley (Jaws, The Deep) and Alistair MacLean (Force 10 From Navarone), though sadly none of Shaw’s five novels or his three plays are currently in print.
As we all (probably) know, Shaw himself was involved in the writing of the famous Indianapolis speech, as Spielberg has explained in 2011:
I owe three people a lot for this speech. You’ve heard all this, but you’ve probably never heard it from me. There’s a lot of apocryphal reporting about who did what on Jaws and I’ve heard it for the last three decades, but the fact is the speech was conceived by Howard Sackler, who was an uncredited writer, didn’t want a credit and didn’t arbitrate for one, but he’s the guy that broke the back of the script before we ever got to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot the movie.
I hired later Carl Gottlieb to come onto the island, who was a friend of mine, to punch up the script, but Howard conceived of the Indianapolis speech. I had never heard of the Indianapolis before Howard, who wrote the script at the Bel Air Hotel and I was with him a couple times a week reading pages and discussing them.
Howard one day said, “Quint needs some motivation to show all of us what made him the way he is and I think it’s this Indianapolis incident.” I said, “Howard, what’s that?” And he explained the whole incident of the Indianapolis and the Atomic Bomb being delivered and on its way back it was sunk by a submarine and sharks surrounded the helpless sailors who had been cast adrift and it was just a horrendous piece of World War II history. Howard didn’t write a long speech, he probably wrote about three-quarters of a page.
But then, when I showed the script to my friend John Milius, John said “Can I take a crack at this speech?” and John wrote a 10-page monologue, that was absolutely brilliant but out-sized for the Jaws I was making! (laughs) But it was brilliant and then Robert Shaw took the speech and Robert did the cut-down.
Robert himself was a fine writer, who had written the play The Man in the Glass Booth. Robert took a crack at the speech and he brought it down to five pages. So, that was sort of the evolution just of that speech.
Robert Shaw wanted to be remembered more as a writer than as an actor, and it’s sad to think the effort any writer puts into their body of work often ends up unread, forgotten, out-of-print, with limited availability from ABE Books or Amazon.
Shaw was born in Lancashire, England, in 1927, and at the age of six, he moved with his family to the Isle of Orkney, part of that remote and wind-swept archipelago to the north of mainland Scotland. His father was a doctor and an alcoholic. He also suffered from severe depression. The father’s mood swings were violent and caused the mother, together with her children, to temporarily abandon their new home, only to return when his mother found she was pregnant. Though Shaw rebelled against taking-up his father’s profession, he inherited his genetic predisposition for alcohol.
As an “in-comer” the young Shaw was the focus of anti-English racism from his Orcadian classmates. He was bullied but quickly learned to stick-up for himself. A probably apocryphal tale recounts how the young Shaw was ostracized and barred by some of the pupils from playing soccer. The canny Shaw, therefore, made friends with other outcasts and formed his own soccer team. In a grudge match between the two, Shaw’s band of misfits thrashed the school’s eleven. Mind you, as this is a tale of a Scottish football team snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory” against a squad of “in-comers” led by an English laddie, well, it just might be true, as it fits the Scottish temperament.
His isolation on the Isle was compounded by his father’s suicide (from an opium overdose) when Shaw was twelve. It was an event that had considerable effect, making the youngster emotionally withdrawn. Years later in 1965, when Shaw was becoming a movie star, the director Lindsay Anderson, who worked with Shaw in the theater during the fifties, noted (rather unfairly) in his diary how there was no “personal engagement” with the actor, which made his work:
”. deficient in real sensibility, to be studiously worked, and somehow over-conscious of effect.”
Yet, by his own admission, the waspish Anderson hadn’t seen Shaw’s spellbinding and brilliant performance as Aston in the film version of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, alongside Alan Bates and Donald Pleasance, or his “Red” Grant in From Russia With Love, or even his acclaimed turn on TV as Hamlet. In a way, it’s typical of Anderson damning without just cause, but he does intuitively hit on the “temperamental clash” at work in Shaw’s life, as the actor does seem to have been driven by his own personal demons, which he spent a lifetime trying to contain.
In an interview for The Battle of the Bulge, from 1966, Shaw comes across like a very polite, clipped merchant banker, or government spokesperson. The only time he shows a glimmer of emotion, pride, is when he mentions his books.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Robert Shaw wasn’t a fun guy to be with. He was a strong family man—albeit one who married three times—and fathered a brood of children. He also enjoyed pranks and long boozy nights with friends, writers, and actors. Yet he was a spendthrift and was often possessive and jealous, an emotional influence that did little to help his second wife, Mary Ure’s alcoholism. Here’s a snapshot of their relationship:
Robert Shaw was fiercely protective, and some say jealous, of Mary, and he insisted that she take a step back and concentrate on being a full-time mother and wife. Mary didn’t give up her career entirely but the demands of motherhood, she bore three children during this period, and her growing dependence on alcohol meant her career lapsed.
Shaw’s agent, John French, would later state bluntly: ‘Shaw had taken all her cash, demolished her job, made her into a housekeeper.’
Because of her blonde-hair and beauty, Ure was unimaginatively described as “the Scottish Marilyn.” But she was a far better actress to Monroe and in all respects had far more natural beauty. Ure was a highly respected actress who had starred in the original stage production of John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger. She had made a name starring in a string of hit films, including The Mind-Benders, The Luck of Ginger Coffey and in 1968, Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. Before meeting and marrying Shaw, Ure had a relationship with Osborne, and a brief fling with Burton. The common thing these three men had in common (apart from their talent) was their alcoholism. Thru her connection with these men, Ure became a drinker too and may have contributed to her tragic and early death.
Two years after her death in 1977, Shaw was interviewed by People magazine:
Shaw says it’s no secret that he went on a bender after his wife of 11 years, actress Mary Ure, died unexpectedly in 1975. It happened only hours after she opened in a new play. “Her stage comeback had been a huge success,” Shaw recalls. “I didn’t go partying with her because I had to get up early the next morning for a film. She came home, took two pills and slept on the sofa so as not to disturb me. She never woke up to read her marvelous notices in the papers. Technically, the pills after the champagne killed her.”
For Shaw, “it was a nightmare, though I don’t feel guilty about Mary’s death, and I can’t take the blame for it.” In one sense, he discloses, “it was a happy release for her because she was suffering from the early stages of a cancer tumor—unknown to anybody.”
Robert Shaw’s first novel The Hiding Place (1960), was a clever, well-written, darkly amusing tale of two British airmen (Wilson and Connolly) forced to bail out behind German lines during the Second World War. They are given refuge by a Corporal Frick, who hides the airmen in his cellar. Having spent much of the war living on his own, their rescuer comes to enjoy the men’s company so much he keeps them hidden long after the war has finished, letting the pilots believe the battle is still raging all around them. Wilson develops a talent for writing, while Connolly frets about his wife back in England and plans to escape. This becomes possible, years later, when their captor becomes ill.
The Hiding Place was highly successful, and was made into a movie Situation Hopeless…But Not Serious, which starred Robert Redford, Mike Connors as two American pilots, and Alec Guinness as their misguided savior.
As an interesting aside, the idea of people held captive underground while a war supposedly takes place overhead, was explored in Philip K. Dick’s short story, “The Defenders,” first published in 1953, which he later developed as a full-length novel, The Penultimate Truth. The idea of strange imprisonment was also touched on by Harold Pinter in his one-act play, The Dumb Waiter, in which two hit-men await for orders (delivered via a communication tube) by an unknown and unseen employer.
Shaw was possibly inspired by the emerging tales of Japanese prisoners of war, found hiding in jungles, still fighting, still believing the Second World War was raging. There’s also the sliver of autobiographical detail in Shaw’s book—the experience of life before and after the war (rationing, poverty, fear) and the sense of isolation that came from his time in Orkney.
I haven’t read his next novel, The Sun Doctor (1961), which makes it hard to comment, other than to pick the choicest reviews. The book won the Hawthornden Prize in 1962 and made his rivals fume. The nasty author John Fowles hated The Sun Doctor‘s success, and tried to console himself in his journals by claiming his weighty novel The Magus was worth a dozen of Shaw’s clever, clean and smooth books. Again, it was an unfair comment, but I do wonder how much such petty, cowardly attitudes ultimately weighed against Shaw’s success as a writer? And lest we forget, Fowles would write his version of Shaw’s The Hiding Place, with his book The Collector, were a man kidnaps a teenage girl to keep in his basement.
In 1966, the year Shaw was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for his performance as King Henry the VIII in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, he published his third novel, The Flag, the first a trilogy of books. The Flag was inspired by the “Red Vicar,” Conrad Noel, a founding member of the British Socialist Party, who flew a Red Flag and a Sinn Fein flag outside his church. In Shaw’s well written, and cinematic tale, version John Calvin, a former soldier during the First World War, and miner, who becomes a vicar in the the north of England, before being transferred to a parish in Eastwold, Sussex, where his views of a Socialist Christianity come into sharp conflict with those of his congregation.
Shaw’s supportive views on Socialism (and Marxism) were later explored in his play Cato Street, where a group of revolutionaries planned to assassinate the then British Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and members of his cabinet, in 1820. The play was presented at the Young Vic with Vanessa Redgrave, Bob Hoskins and James Hazeldine in the cast.
Shaw was a writer of ideas—cultural and political themes, and their effect on individuals. His fourth novel, and second of his trilogy, The Man in the Glass Booth (1967) was his most powerful and controversial, a brave and stunning tour de force, which he adapted into a highly successful play that ran in London’s West End and on Broadway, with Donald Pleasence.
The story concerns a rich Jewish industrialist and Holocaust survivor, Arthur Goldman, who is supposedly exposed as a Nazi war criminal. Goldman is kidnapped from his Manhattan home to stand trial in Israel. Kept in a glass booth to prevent his assassination, Goldman taunts his persecutors and their beliefs, questioning and admitting his own and the collective guilt for the Holocaust—or as the judge puts it, to stand in the dock and “say what no German has ever said in the dock.”
The book differs from the play, but both are equally important works of literature. Both are unbelievably out-of-print.
The Man in the Glass Booth was filmed in 1975, with Maximilian Schell in the lead role. Shaw was dissatisfied with the result and had his name removed form the credits.
The final part of this trilogy, and Shaw’s last novel, A Card from Morocco (1969), dealt with a pair of alcoholics (Englishman Arthur Lewis and Bostonian Patrick Slatterly), and their long, tragic and funny conversations during their travels in Spain. The book dealt with male anxieties about identity, sexuality, and desire.
Pursued by the IRS and in debt to the British taxman, Shaw moved to Ireland. His career took off during the 1970s with roles in The Sting, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Jaws, Robin and Marion, and Black Sunday, but with each blockbuster, he would also star in a variety of B-movies (A Town Called Bastard, The Deep, Force 10 from Navarone) all of which may have paid the bills, but sold his talent cheap.
During the making of his last film, Avalanche Express, another dud co-starring Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw died of a heart attack. He had been driving with his wife in Ireland, when he felt ill. He pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out of the vehicle to get some air, no sooner had he closed the driver’s door, Shaw collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. As the film was incomplete, Shaw’s voice was removed from the film, and overdubbed by actor Robert Rietti.
Robert Shaw was a highly talented, intelligent and complex man, who was driven by great ambition and his own private traumas to create a very significant body of work as an author and as a performer. His early death, aged 51, at a roadside in Ireland, was a sad end to such an immensely talented actor and an even greater writer.
About Col. Robert Gould Shaw (USA)
Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863) was the colonel in command of the all-black 54th Regiment, which entered the American Civil War in 1863. He was killed in a failed attempt to capture Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, was built in his memory on Beacon and Park streets in Boston in 1897. He is the principal subject of the 1989 film "Glory," his character played by actor Matthew Broderick.
[Downloaded 2010 from Wikipedia:]
Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was the colonel in command of the all-black 54th Regiment, which entered the American Civil War in 1863. He is the principal subject of the 1989 film Glory. He was killed in a failed attempt to capture Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Civil War
- 3 Marriage to Anne Kneeland Haggerty
- 4 Letters
- 5 Death at Fort Wagner
- 6 Memorials
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 Further reading
Early life and career
Shaw was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a prominent abolitionist family. His parents (who lived off the inheritance left by Shaw's merchant grandfather) were Francis George and Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw, and he had four sisters: Anna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen. He was a Unitarian who moved with his family to a large estate in West Roxbury, adjacent to Brook Farm when he was five. In his teens, Shaw spent some years studying and traveling in Switzerland, Italy, Hanover, Norway and Sweden. His family moved to Staten Island, New York, settling there among a community of literati and abolitionists, while Shaw attended the lower division of St. John's College, the equivalent of high school in the institution that became Fordham University. From 1856 until 1859, Shaw attended Harvard University, where he was a member of the Porcellian Club, but he withdrew before graduating.
After Abraham Lincoln's election and the secession of several Southern states, Shaw joined the 7th New York Infantry Regiment and marched with it to the defense of Washington, D.C., in April 1861. The unit served only thirty days. In May 1861, Shaw joined the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry as second lieutenant.
Shaw was approached by his father while in camp in late 1862 to take command of a new All-Black Regiment. At first he declined the offer, but after careful thought accepted the position. Shaw's letters clearly state that he was dubious about a free black unit succeeding, but the dedication of his men deeply impressed him, and he grew to respect them as fine soldiers. On learning that black soldiers would receive less pay than white ones, he inspired his unit to conduct a boycott until this inequality was rectified. The enlisted men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry (and the sister 55th) refused pay until Congress granted them full back pay at the white pay rate in August, 1864.
Shaw was promoted to major on March 31, 1863, and to colonel on April 17.
Marriage to Anne Kneeland Haggerty
On May 2, 1863, Shaw married Annie Kneeland Haggerty (1835) in New York City. They had decided to marry before the unit left Boston despite their parents' misgivings. They spent their brief honeymoon at the Haggerty farm in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Robert Shaw is well-known for the over 200 letters he wrote to his family and friends during the Civil War. They are currently located in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. The book, Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune, includes most of his letters and a brief biography of Shaw. They are quoted liberally by Ken Burns in his documentary miniseries The Civil War. Peter Burchard also used these letters as the basis for his book One Gallant Rush, upon which the movie Glory was based.
Death at Fort Wagner
The Storming of Fort Wagner
The 54th Regiment was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, to take part in the operations against the Confederates stationed there. On July 18, 1863, along with two brigades of white troops, the 54th assaulted Confederate Battery Wagner. As the unit hesitated in the face of fierce Confederate fire, Shaw led his men into battle by shouting, "Forward, Fifty-Fourth Forward!" He mounted a parapet and urged his men forward, but was shot through the heart and he died almost instantly. According to the color Sgt of the 54th Mass, he was shot and killed trying to lead the unit forward and fell on the outside of the fort. This act was portrayed in the movie Glory.
The victorious Confederates buried him in a mass grave with many of his men, an act they intended as an insult. Following the battle, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw's where it was. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that "had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the negroes that fell with him." Although efforts were made to recover Shaw's body (which had been stripped and robbed prior to burial), Shaw's father publicly proclaimed that he was proud to know that his son was interred with his troops, befitting his role as a soldier and a crusader for social justice. In a letter to the regimental surgeon, Lincoln Stone, Frank Shaw wrote:
We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company – what a body-guard he has!
After Robert Shaw's death, his young wife, Annie, moved to Europe to live with her sister. She never remarried.
- In 1864, sculptor Edmonia Lewis created a bust of Shaw.
- The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, was built in his memory on Beacon and Park streets in Boston in 1897.
See images on the Wikipedia site.
Shaw memorial at Mount Auburn Cemetery
- Some drawings and plaster mock-ups also exist. There is an additional casting of the Shaw Memorial at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.
- A monument to Shaw's memory was erected by his family in the family plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An annual commemoration is held there on his birthday.
Entry for Shaw in Harvard University's Memorial Hall
- Shaw was also memorialized in the transept of Harvard University's Memorial Hall, which is dedicated to the students who perished in the American Civil War. Although he did not graduate, he is credited with the class of 1860.
- The story of Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts was dramatized in the 1989 movie Glory, with Shaw portrayed by Matthew Broderick.
- Shaw, the 54th regiment, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' memorial are the subject of Charles Ives's piece Three Places in New England.
- The New England poet Robert Lowell referenced both Shaw and the Shaw Memorial in the poem For The Union Dead.
- Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a poem entitled "Robert Gould Shaw," in which he states: "Since thou and those who with thee died for right/Have died, the Present teaches, but in vain!"
- The African-American poet Benjamin Griffith Brawley wrote a memorial poem entitled "My Hero"  in praise of Robert Gould Shaw.
- The neighborhood of Shaw in Washington, DC,which grew out of freed slave encampments, bears his name. It is widely considered the pre-Harlem center of African-American intellectual and cultural life.
- Dhalle, Kathy, A Biography of Robert Gould Shaw
- Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry history
1. ^ Hero Tales from American History by Henry Cabot Lodge, p. 109
2. ^ Seeking The One Great Remedy, Lorien Foote, 119
- Benson, Richard, Lay This Laurel : An album on the Saint-Gaudens memorial on Boston Common, honoring black and white men together, who served the Union cause with Robert Gould Shaw and died with him July 18, 1863, Eakins Press, 1973. ISBN 0-87130-036-2
- Duncan, Russell, ed., Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, University of Georgia Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8203-1459-5
- Duncan, Russell, Where Death and Glory Meet : Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, University of Georgia Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8203-2135-4
- Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead, Collected Poems, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2003, ISBN 0-374-12617-8
- Burchard, Peter One Gallant Rush — Robert Gould Shaw & His Brave Black Regiment, St. Martin's Press, 1965. ISBN 0-312-03903-4
- Emilio, Luis F., A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863-1865, Da Capo Press, 1894. ISBN 0-306-80623-1
- The Master by Colm Toibin relates Wilkie James's (younger brother of Henry and William James ) participation as an officer in the regiment.
SHORT DESCRIPTION Union United States Army officer
DATE OF BIRTH October 10, 1837
PLACE OF BIRTH oston, Massachusetts
DATE OF DEATH July 18, 1863
PLACE OF DEATH Morris Island, South Carolina
Categories: Union Army officers | United States Army officers | American military personnel killed in the American Civil War | People of Massachusetts in the American Civil War | Freedom Trail | People from Boston, Massachusetts | 19th-century people | People from New York City | People from Staten Island | American Unitarians | 1837 births | 1863 deaths
The story of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Mass Vol. Infantry was dramatized in the 1989 movie, "Glory", starring Matthew Broderick as Col. Shaw. 1/10/2015 Following the line from Capen Family (1500s-1600s) down to Calvin Coolidge on famouskin.com. This is where I got birth, death, marriage, spouse and most other info while drilling down then following back up and then down again to connect President Grant and President Calvin Coolidge, even though I previously found Grant. I had seen a connection with Coolidge. That would Only be on the people that I made and copied this note on, then took it further to Col Robert Gould Shaw. Also note that the movie "Glory" was based on the story of Robert Gould Shaw and his all black regiment. CTC:
Following up with story from Wikipedia Robert Gould Shaw
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the American Civil War Colonel. For his first cousin, the Massachusetts landowner, see Robert Gould Shaw II. For other persons with a similar name, see Robert Shaw.
Robert Gould Shaw.jpg Shaw in May 1863
Born October 10, 1837 Boston, Massachusetts
Died July 18, 1863 (aged 25) Morris Island, South Carolina
Service/branch United States Union Army
Years of service 1861
Rank Union army col rank insignia.jpg Colonel
Unit New York 7th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
American Civil War: Battle of Antietam Battle of Grimball's Landing Second Battle of Fort Wagner
Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American military officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. As Colonel, he commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. He was killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.
Contents [hide] 1 Early life and education 2 American Civil War 2.1 Death at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner
3 Personal life 3.1 Marriage 3.2 Letters
5 Gallery 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links
Early life and education
Shaw was born in Boston to abolitionists Francis George and Sarah Blake (Sturgis) Shaw, well-known Unitarian philanthropists and intellectuals. The Shaws had the benefit of a large inheritance left by Shaw's merchant grandfather and namesake Robert Gould Shaw (1775), and Shaw himself would have been a member by primogeniture of the Society of the Cincinnati had he survived his father. Shaw had four sisters𠅊nna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen.
When Shaw was five the family moved to a large estate in West Roxbury, adjacent to Brook Farm. In his teens he traveled and studied for some years in Europe. Later[when?] the family moved to Staten Island, New York, settling among a community of literati and abolitionists, while Shaw attended the lower division of St. John's College (comparable to a modern high school).
From 1856 until 1859 he attended Harvard University, joining the Porcellian Club, but withdrew before graduating.
Early in the American Civil War, Shaw joined the 7th New York Militia and in April 1861 marched with it to the defense of Washington, D.C. In May 1861 he joined the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry as a second lieutenant, with which he fought in the First battle of Winchester, the Battles of Cedar Mountain, and Antietam.
Shaw was approached by his father while in camp in late 1862 to take command of a new All-Black Regiment. At first he declined the offer, but after careful thought, he accepted the position. Shaw's letters clearly state that he was dubious about a free black unit succeeding, but the dedication of his men deeply impressed him, and he grew to respect them as fine soldiers. On learning that black soldiers would receive less pay than white ones, he inspired his unit to conduct a boycott until this inequality was rectified. The enlisted men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry (and the sister 55th) refused pay until Congress granted them full back pay at the white pay rate in August 1863.
Shaw was promoted to major on March 31, 1863, and to colonel on April 17.
On June 11, 1863, Shaw wrote about war crimes committed against the citizens of Darien, Georgia when the civilian population of women and children were fired upon, forced from their homes, their possessions looted, and the town burned. Shaw noted in a letter, "On the way up, Montgomery threw several shells among the plantation buildings, in what seemed to me a very brutal way for he didn’t know how many women and children there might be." Shaw was initially ordered by Colonel James Montgomery to perform the burning but he refused. Shaw noted in a letter, "The reasons he gave me for destroying Darien were, that the Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war, and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old. In theory it may seem all right to some, but when it comes to being made the instrument of the Lord’s vengeance, I myself don’t like it." He goes on to say, "We are outlawed, and therefore not bound by the rules of regular warfare but that makes it nonetheless revolting to wreak our vengeance on the innocent and defenceless."
Ironically, the original Scottish founders of Darien had signed the first Petition against the Introduction of Slavery in the colony of Georgia.
Death at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner
The 54th Regiment was sent to Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the operations against the Confederates stationed there. On July 18, 1863, along with two brigades of white troops, the 54th assaulted Confederate Battery Wagner. As the unit hesitated in the face of fierce Confederate fire, Shaw led his men into battle by shouting, "Forward, Fifty-Fourth, forward!" He mounted a parapet and urged his men forward, but was shot through the chest three times and died almost instantly. According to the Colors Sergeant of the 54th, he was shot and killed while trying to lead the unit forward and fell on the outside of the fort.
The victorious Confederates buried him in a mass grave with many of his men, an act they intended as an insult. Following the battle, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw's where it was. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that "had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the niggers that fell with him." Although the gesture was intended as an insult, it came to be seen as an honor by Shaw's friends and family that he was buried with his soldiers.
Efforts had been made to recover Shaw's body (which had been stripped and robbed prior to burial). However, his father publicly proclaimed that he was proud to know that his son was interred with his troops, befitting his role as a soldier and a crusader for emancipation. In a letter to the regimental surgeon, Lincoln Stone, Frank Shaw wrote:
We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. – what a body-guard he has!
His remains, along with those of his men, have since been swept out to sea by Atlantic hurricanes.
Annie Haggerty Shaw, a widow at the age of 28, never remarried. She lived with her family in New York, Lenox, Massachusetts and abroad, a revered figure and in later years an invalid. She died in 1907 and is buried at the cemetery of Church-on-the Hill in Lenox.
On May 2, 1863, Shaw married Anna Kneeland "Annie" Haggerty (1835) in New York City. They decided to marry before the unit left Boston despite their parents' misgivings. They spent their brief honeymoon at the Haggerty place, Ventfort, in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Shaw is well known for the over 200 letters he wrote to his family and friends during the Civil War. They are currently located in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Digital facsimiles of this collection are publicly available. The book, Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune, includes most of his letters and a brief biography of Shaw. Peter Burchard also used these letters as the basis for his book One Gallant Rush, which is one of the books upon which the film Glory was based.
The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, was built in his memory on Beacon and Park streets in Boston in 1897.
"There they march, warm-blooded champions of a better day for man. There on horseback among them, in his very habit as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune, upon whose happy youth every divinity had smiled."—Oration by William James at the exercises in the Boston Music Hall, May 31, 1897, upon the unveiling of the Shaw Monument. Some drawings and plaster mock-ups also exist. A patinated plaster cast of a slightly different design for the Shaw Memorial is now on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.. A monument to Shaw's memory was erected by his family in the plot at Moravian Cemetery in Staten Island, New York. An annual commemoration is held there on his birthday. Although he did not graduate, Shaw's name is listed on the tablets of honor in Harvard University's Memorial Transept. Elizabeth Gaskell was inspired by the life of Robert Gould Shaw to compose a text and poem in his honor, "Robert Gould Shaw", which appeared in Macmillan's Magazine (1864) and is available on The Gaskell Web. The story of Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts was dramatized in the 1989 film Glory, with Shaw portrayed by Matthew Broderick. Shaw, the 54th regiment, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' memorial are one of the subjects of Charles Ives's composition for orchestra, Three Places in New England. The New England poet Robert Lowell referenced both Shaw and the Shaw Memorial in the poem "For the Union Dead" which Lowell published in his 1964 book of the same name. African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a poem entitled "Robert Gould Shaw", in which he states: "Since thou and those who with thee died for right/Have died, the Present teaches, but in vain!" African-American poet Benjamin Griffith Brawley wrote a memorial poem entitled "My Hero" in praise of Robert Gould Shaw. The neighborhood of Shaw, Washington, D.C., which grew out of freed slave encampments, bears his name.
1.^ Jump up to: a b Boston City Council (1897). Exercises at the dedication of the monument to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the Fifty-fourth regiment of the Massachusetts infantry (May 31, 1897). Boston: Municipal Printing Office. 2.Jump up ^ Shaw, Robert Gould. "Written in Glory:Letters from the Soldiers and Officers of the 54th Massachusetts". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 3.Jump up ^ Henry Cabot Lodge. Hero Tales from American History. p. 109. 4.Jump up ^ Foote 2003, p. 119 5.Jump up ^ Buescher, John. "Robert Gould Shaw." Teachinghistory.org. Accessed 12 July 2011. 6.Jump up ^ Foote 2003, p. 120 7.Jump up ^ A History of Ventfort Hall, Cornelia Brooke Gilder and Joan R. Olshansky. Ventfort Hall Association, Lenox, 2002. pp.6𠄷. 8.Jump up ^ Hawthorne's Lenox, Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, Hawthorne's Lenox. The History Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59629-406-6 pp.71 9.Jump up ^ National Gallery of Art (2011). "Augustus Saint-Gaudens". Artist. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art. 10.Jump up ^ Augustus Saint-Gaudens (artist). "Shaw Memorial, 1900". The Collection. National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 11.Jump up ^ Paul Laurence Dunbar. "Robert Gould Shaw". Poems. 12.Jump up ^ Benjamin Griffith Brawley (1922). "My Hero". In James Weldon Johnson. The Book of American Negro Poetry, With an Essay on the Negro’s Creative Genius. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
References Dhalle, Kathy, A Biography of Robert Gould Shaw Foote, Lorien (2003). Seeking the One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-century Reform. Ohio University Press. ISBN 0-8214-1499-2. Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry history Simpson, Brooks (2013), The Civil War: The Third Year. The Library of America (2013)
Further reading Benson, Richard, Lay This Laurel : An album on the Saint-Gaudens memorial on Boston Common, honoring black and white men together, who served the Union cause with Robert Gould Shaw and died with him July 18, 1863, Eakins Press, 1973. ISBN 0-87130-036-2 Cox, Clinton (1991), Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, New York: Scholastic. Duncan, Russell, ed., Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, University of Georgia Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8203-1459-5 Duncan, Russell, Where Death and Glory Meet : Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, University of Georgia Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8203-2135-4 Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead, Collected Poems, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2003, ISBN 0-374-12617-8 Burchard, Peter One Gallant Rush—Robert Gould Shaw & His Brave Black Regiment, St. Martin's Press, 1965. ISBN 0-312-03903-4 Emilio, Luis F., A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863, Da Capo Press, 1894. ISBN 0-306-80623-1 The Master by Colm Toibin relates Wilkie James's (younger brother of Henry and William James) participation as an officer in the regiment.
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Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James … More
Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Lenore Hecht Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.
Shaw, Robert (Lawson)
Shaw, Robert (Lawson), renowned American conductor b. Red Bluff, Calif., April 30, 1916 d. New Haven, Conn., Jan. 25, 1999. He came from a clerical family his father and his grandfather were clergymen his mother sang in church choirs. He studied at Pomona Coll. (1934–38), where he conducted its Glee Club. In 1938 Fred Waring asked him to help organize the Fred Waring Glee Club, and Shaw conducted it until 1945. In 1941 he founded his own Collegiate Chorale in N.Y., which he led in diversified programs of choral music, old and new, until 1954. In 1944 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. He taught choral conducting at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (summers, 1946–48), and concurrently at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. In 1946 he made his debut as a sym. conductor with the Naumburg Orch. in N.Y. In 1948 he founded the Robert Shaw Chorale, which he conducted with notable success for 20 seasons. Eager to acquire more experience as an orch. conductor, he studied conducting with Monteux in San Francisco and Rodzinski in N.Y. in 1950. From 1953 to 1958 he conducted summer concerts of the San Diego Sym. Orch. In 1956 he led the Robert Shaw Chorale through a tour of 15 countries of Europe, including Russia, and the Middle East, under the auspices of the State Dept. In 1964 the Robert Shaw Chorale gave concerts in South America. For his Chorale, Shaw commissioned several choral works from contemporary composers, including Bartók, Milhaud, Britten, Barber, and Copland. Beginning in 1956 he was co-director of the Alaska Festival of Music in Anchorage. From 1956 to 1967 he served as assoc. conductor with Szell and the Cleveland Orch. In 1967 he became music director of the Atlanta Sym. Orch., and by dint of talent and perseverance brought it to a high degree of excellence. In 1977 he conducted it at the gala concert for President Carter’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., and in 1988 he took it to Europe. After retiring from his post in 1988, he was accorded the titles of music director emeritus and conductor laureate. He then was active as director of the new inst. named in his honor at Emory Univ. In 1991 he received a Kennedy Center Honor. In 1992 President Bush awarded him the National Medal of Arts. He received the Theodore Thomas Award of the Conductors’ Guild in 1993. In 1995 he took part as both conductor and reciter in the 50 th anniversary concert of the Atlanta Sym. Orch. in a program later telecast to the nation by PBS. While Shaw eventually won respect as a sym. conductor, it was as a master of the choral repertoire that he attained international distinction. For more than half a century he was America’s preeminent choral conductor. His 13 Grammy Awards and numerous honorary doctorates attest to the unbounded esteem and admiration he was accorded during his remarkable career.
When Robert was 12 years old, he became interested in woodwork and his parents bought him a 12” jigsaw, wood lathe, and a subscription to Popular Mechanics magazine. As his interest and skill grew, his tool collection grew to include a 4” jointer, 10” table saw and a 16” band saw. His first projects included twin beds with turned posts, matching side tables, and a complete dining room set which is still in use by his daughter Julie.
He attended TCU, starting in 1941, and graduated with a degree in Chemistry. In 1943, Robert joined the Navy and was commissioned ensign and assigned as a gunnery officer in 1944. He also married his childhood sweetheart in July of 1944. Robert arrived home in 1946 and began building his shop shortly after returning.
In 1946, Robert bought a lot on Bryan Avenue and constructed his first building using a disassembled, corrugated roof building from his hometown in Thurber. He continued to build additions to the shop, expanding with new buildings in 1963, 1967, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1982, and 1984.
Robert Shaw was not only known for his work, but for his character. He is remembered for his rigorous standards, and attention to detail. He built the most beautiful woodwork, while understanding the needs of his employees to create a productive work environment.
Today, Robert Shaw Manufacturing operates in a total of 90,000 square feet and has full, up-to-date veneer, manufacturing, finishing, and installation capabilities. The company is known for its knowledgeable staff with high attention to detail.
Shaw, Robert (1908&ndash1985)
Robert Shaw, blues pianist, was born on August 9, 1908, in Stafford, Texas, the son of Jesse and Hettie Shaw. His parents owned a 200-acre farm. The Shaws had a Steinway grand piano and provided music lessons for his sisters, but Shaw was not permitted to take piano lessons because his father was opposed to the idea. Years later he told an interviewer that he would "crawl under the house" to catch the musical strains coming from one of his sisters' piano lessons.
Shaw obeyed his father and worked alongside him in the family's cattle and hog business. He played piano when the rest of the family was away from home and practiced the songs he heard on errands into town. Reportedly, the first song he learned was "Aggravatin' Papa Don't You Try to Two-Time Me." By the time he was a teenager, Shaw would slip away to hear jazz musicians in Houston and at the roadhouses in the nearby countryside. As soon as he was able, he sought out a piano teacher to take lessons and paid for them from his own earnings. In time, despite his father's opposition, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz musician.
In addition to ragtime elements such as syncopation, the "barrelhouse" piano style that Shaw played employs a heavy, hard-hitting touch with fast release. The style was named for the barrelhouses, where it was performed-sheds with walls lined with beer and whiskey, an open floor, and a piano on a raised platform in a corner of the room. The back of the barrelhouse was also used as a bawdy house.
Shaw learned his distinct brand of piano playing from other musicians in the Fourth Ward, Houston, the center of black entertainment in the city. Clubs there hosted such important blues stylists as Sam (Lightnin') Hopkins. Famous dance bands of the era also appeared at the El Dorado and the Emancipation Park Dance Pavilion, two of the best dance halls in the Fourth Ward.
In the 1920s Shaw became part of an itinerant band loosely referred to as the "Santa Fe Circuit" because the musicians hopped aboard Santa Fe freight trains to do their tours. Shaw played as far north as Chicago, but he mostly confined himself to Texas. He appeared as a soloist in the clubs and roadhouses of such Southeast Texas towns as Sugar Land and Richmond, the South Texas town of Kingsville during the cotton harvest, and the big cities of Houston and Dallas. When the Kilgore oil boom occurred in 1930, Shaw went there to play, and in 1932 he headed to Kansas City, Kansas, to perform at the Black Orange Cafe. In 1933 he had a radio show in Oklahoma City before returning to Texas, first to Fort Worth and then to Austin, where he took up permanent residence and opened a barbecue business. He later owned and operated a grocery store called the Stop and Swat in the predominantly black east side.
Shaw met Martha Landrum in Austin in 1936, and they married on December 22, 1939. They had no children. He had previously been married to a woman named Blanche, with whom he had a daughter, Verna Mae, and a son, William. For several decades after his marriage, Shaw ran his business in partnership with Martha. He was named the black businessman of the year in Austin in 1962.
He also continued to play his music privately and for people who dropped by the Stop and Swat. In 1967, seven years before his retirement from the grocery business, he returned to public musical performance, this time with a younger generation of followers and growing fame. With the revival of his career, as one of the few remaining "virtuoso" barrelhouse blues pianists of his period, Shaw played often in Austin and at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Over the following years he also performed in Amsterdam, in Frankfurt, and at the Berlin Jazz Festival. In addition he played at the Smithsonian Institute's American Folk Life Festival, the World's Fair Expo in Canada, the Border Folk Festival in El Paso, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Shaw also made at least one album, called Texas Barrelhouse Piano, recorded in Austin by Mack McCormick over a three-month period in 1963. It was originally released by McCormick's Almanac Book and Recording Company. Arhoolie Records, one of the country's best-known folk recording companies, later reissued the album. Shaw was also featured with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band during its appearance at the 1973 annual Austin Aqua Fest, and his fame spread widely enough in the next decade to earn him an invitation to participate in the Texas Commission on the Arts touring arts program between 1981 and 1983.
He was scheduled to take part in the Texas Music Tour in honor of the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986, but died of a heart attack in Austin on May 16, 1985. After a funeral service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, he was buried at the Capital Memorial Gardens.
Some jazz critics have noted that Shaw's repertoire remained fresh throughout his career because he continued to practice his unique barrelhouse style during his thirty-year hiatus, unaffected by newer or more popular blues styles. Moreover, his commitment to his technique ensured that a unique black musical tradition remained intact. On May 27, 1985, two weeks after his death, the state Senate adopted a resolution to honor Shaw's many contributions to the state's musical heritage. In 2009 Shaw was inducted into the Austin Music Memorial.
Robert Shaw - History
Governor, State of Massachusetts
Mayor, City of Boston
Former and first African American Director, National Park Service
Martin J. Walsh
Co-chair Emeritus, former Mayor of Boston
President, Massachusetts Historical Society
Civil War Historian Professor, Northeastern University
Professor of American History, Yale University, Director, Gilder Lehman Center
Boston City Council President, District 4
Colin “Topper” Carew
Director, Code Next Visiting Scholar, MIT
Historian Co-Founder of the Department of African Studies, Boston University
Civil War Historian and President Emerita, Harvard University
President, GoBiz Solutions, Inc.
Chief Executive Officer, Fulp Diversity LLC
Henry Louis Gates
Professor and Director, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University
U.S. Army (Ret.), Executive Officer, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
Professor of History and of African and African American Studies & Chair, Department of History, Harvard University
Karen Holmes Ward
Director of Public Affairs and Community Services, WCVB – TV
President, Wellesley College
Superintendant, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
Professor and Director of Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University
Department of American Studies, University of Maryland
President Emeritus, Friends of the Public Garden
Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, National Trust for Historic Places
Pulitzer Prize Recipient Historian, Author, Narrator
Shaw descendant who donated Shaw’s sword to the Massachusetts Historical Society
Representative and Chair, Massachusetts Black and Latino Political Caucus
Associate Director for External Affairs, National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian Institution
President, Emerson College
President & CEO, Colette Phillips Communications
Harold I. Pratt
Founder and Partner, Nichols and Pratt, LLP
Former Massachusetts State Representative
Retired WBZ-TV Reporter
Founding Director, African American Civil War Museum
Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Suffolk County Sheriff
Col. Dana Sanders-Udo
Commander, 54th Mass Volunteer Regiment and Chief of Diversity and Inclusion, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Pastor, Roxbury Presbyterian Church
Descendant of John J. Smith, famed abolitionist and Massachusetts State Representative
President, 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Company A
Founder and Principal, The Whitlock Group
Mary Minturn Wood
Shaw descendant who donated Shaw’s sword to the Massachusetts Historical Society
Partner, Holland and Knight
The iconic bronze bas-relief of the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial is back on the Boston Common and soon will open to the public. Read coverage in the Boston Globe, Associated Press, WCVB, and Boston Herald for an in-depth look at the Memorials return to the Common.
The press release has been posted to the State House News Service website and North End Waterfront News, as well as on the Boston and Beacon Hill Patch sites.
The bronze conservation was featured on the front page of the September 23, 2020 edition of the Boston Globe. Read the full article here.
Stories appeared in the Boston Globe Metro Section, the Boston Herald, MSN, and in the Boston Business Journal’s “5 Things to Know Today” Newsletter for Memorial Day.
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director, Liz Vizza was interviewed by three television news stations for weekend coverage on WCVB 5, Black News Channel, and WBZ-TV 4 for their online streaming service – which all ran on Memorial Day 2020. There was an article in the Beacon Hill Times.
Liz Vizza from the Friends, and the Director of Education and Interpretation at the Museum of African American History, L’Merchie Frazier were interviewed again by WBZ-TV 4 with on-the-ground footage of the Restoration.
A vacant plot of land in Hyde Park is the location where the 54th Regiment camped before going south to fight in 1861. Today, a development proposal is in place to build townhomes on the land, some are fighting to preserve it.
MARCH 30, 2021: Allyship and the Mass. 54th: Advancing Our Journey to an Antiracist America Stream on Facebook.
OCTOBER 23, 2020: A Community Conversation: Voting Rights and the Perilous March to Freedom. Stream on Facebook.
AUGUST 24, 2020: A Community Conversation: The Power of Public Monuments in a Time of Racial Reckoning. Stream on Facebook.
JUNE 19, 2020: Poetry as Protest: A Night of Poetry & Conversation with Dr. Malcolm Tariq. View information here.
OCTOBER 15, 2019: The Shaw 54th: Restoring the Memorial and the Dialogue on Race. View information here.
JANUARY 9, 2019: A Community Conversation: The Power of Public Monuments and Why They Matter. View information here. Stream below via />
JULY 17, 2018: Launch of the Shaw/MA 54th Regiment Memorial Restoration Project. View information here.
/>We’re excited to partner with Hoverlay to create an Augmented Reality experience, which brings the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, Boston’s most iconic work of public art, right into your living room.
This Augmented Reality experience is available to anyone at home, using your phone, on the Hoverlay app. Search for the Shaw54MemorialAtHome channel or this direct link from your mobile device.
We are excited to partner with EarthCam to provide a photo time-lapse of the restoration process. Please check back later for a video.
National Park Service
City of Boston
Friends of the Public Garden
Museum of African American History
MORE ABOUT THE SHAW 54th REGIMENT MEMORIAL AND BOSTON’S FREE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
HISTORY OF THE SHAW 54th REGIMENT MEMORIAL
The most acclaimed piece of sculpture on Boston Common is the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens a memorial to that group of men who were among the first African Americans to fight in the Civil War. The monument portrays Shaw and his men marching down Beacon Street past the State House on May 28, 1863 as they left Boston on their way to South Carolina, Shaw erect on his horse, the men marching alongside.
Shaw and his men were among the units chosen to lead the assault on the Confederate Fort Wagner, part of the Charleston defenses. In the face of fierce Confederate fire, Shaw led his men into battle by shouting, “Forward, Fifty-Fourth, forward!”. In brutal hand-to-hand combat, Shaw was shot through the chest and died almost instantly 281 members of his soldiers (almost half of the regiment) were killed, wounded or captured.
Soon after the tragic events at Fort Wagner, on July 18, 1863, the survivors of the first all volunteer black regiment in the Union Army raised funds for a memorial on Morris Island, South Carolina, but it was never built. In 1865 Joshua B. Smith, an African-American businessman and Massachusetts state senator, once an employee of the Shaw family, raisded funds with the black Beacon Hill community and led the first movement to erect a monument to Colonel Shaw in Boston. An executive committee was formed, intending “not only to mark the public gratitude to the fallen hero, who at a critical moment assumed a perilous responsibility, but also to commemorate the great event, wherein he was a leader, by which the title of colored men as citizen soldiers was fixed beyond recall.”
Boston African American National Historic Site: A Brave Black Regiment
With the deaths of Governor Andrew and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, the chief political supporters of the memorial effort, the project languished until the early 1880s. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose newly completed Farragut Monument in New York City had received great praise, was then introduced to the executive committee members by the well-established Boston architect H. H. Richardson. Saint-Gaudens was one of the premier artists of his day he grew up in New York and Boston, and trained in Paris. The sculptor began work immediately on a design. By the end of 1883 he had produced numerous drawings and several small models of the proposed relief. The committee approved and a contract was signed on February 23, 1884, specifying a modest bronze relief to be completed in two years. Richardson was the original choice as architect for the project, but he died and was succeeded by Charles McKim, of the noted New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, who designed the frame and the terrace. The committee originally had proposed a free-standing equestrian statue, but Shaw’s family believed that type of monument should be reserved for heroes of a higher military rank than their young son. Saint-Gaudens, accordingly, “fell upon the plan of associating him directly with his troops in a bas-relief, and thereby reducing his importance.”
The commissioners became increasingly restless as Saint-Gaudens completed numerous other projects while the Shaw remained unfinished. The committee became very impatient, and threatened to fire Saint-Gaudens and hire sculptor Daniel Chester French. Saint-Gaudens
continued work on the memorial. He had African American men pose in his studio, and moldeled 40 different heads to use as studies. His concern for accuracy also extended to the clothing and accoutrements. This is the first time African American people were depicted as individuals, not stereoptypes, and the first piece of sculpture to memorialize black men. It shows the young Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, known to Saint-Gaudens through photographs, astride his horse with an absolutely erect posture with the men of the 54th marching alongside. It took Saint-Gaudens fourteen years to complete the memorial, but its greatness was recognized immedicately. What started as a conventional relief eventually grew into an artistically challenging project of immense psychological and physical proportions. The sculptor later explained, “In justice to myself I must say here that from the low-relief I proposed making when I undertook the Shaw commission, a relief that reasonably could be finished for the limited sum at the command of the committee, I, through my extreme interest in it and its opportunity, increased the conception until the rider grew almost to a statue in the round and the negroes assumed far more importance than I had originally intended…thus, the memorial continued to evolve for another twelve years.”
In the memorial’s background, Shaw’s father suggested using the motto of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization formed after the Revolutionary War for officers and their descendants, and of which Robert Gould Shaw was a hereditary member. The motto, OMNIA
RELINQVIT SERVARE REMPVBLICAM (He forsook all to preserve the public weal), was used. Among other symbolic details are 34 stars along the top, representing the states of the Union in 1863. The 11 x 14 foot bronze bas-relief was cast by the Gorham Manufacturing Company, and placed in an architectural setting designed by Charles McKim.
The Shaw MA 54th Memorial remains one of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ most stirring and celebrated masterpieces and is considered by some to be America’s greatest public monument. Private funds built this monument, presented to the City of Boston on May 31, 1897 as a reminder to future generations of the “pride, courage and devotion” of the men it honors. The Friends of the Public Garden raised funds to restore and endow the monument in 1982 and memorialized the fallen soldiers by adding their names on the rear of the monument under Proverbs 10:7 “Memory of the Just is Blessed”, fulfilling an original request by the Shaw family.
54TH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REGIMENT
From the beginning of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln argued that Union forces were not fighting to end slavery but to prevent the disintegration of the United States. For abolitionists, however, ending slavery was the reason for the war, and they argued that African Americans should be able to join the fight for their freedom. On January 1, 1863, amidst the tumult of the war, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, providing freedom for persons enslaved in the states in rebellion and the impetus for black men to serve in the military.
The presidential order came at a time when state governors were responsible for raising regiments for federal service. Early in 1863, Abolitionist Governor John Albion Andrew of Massachusetts issued the Civil War’s first call for black soldiers and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was formed. While their formation was a matter of controversy, Andrew was committed and believed that black men were capable of leadership. Others felt that commissioning blacks as officers was simply too controversial. Robert Gould Shaw, a young white officer from a prominent Boston family, volunteered for the Regiment’s command.
By the time the 54th Infantry headed off to training camp two weeks later, more than 1,000 men had volunteered. Many came from other states, such as New York, Indiana, and Ohio some even came from Canada. One-quarter of the volunteers came from slave states and the Caribbean. Fathers and sons, some as young as 16, enlisted together. The most famous enlistees were Charles and Lewis Douglass, two sons of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Shaw and his commissioned officers were white and the enlisted men black black officers up to the rank of lieutenant were non-commissioned and reached their positions by moving up through the ranks. They trained in Readville, now the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston.
On May 28, 1863, upon the presentation of the 54th’s colors by the governor and a parade through the streets of Boston, thousands lined the streets to see this experimental unit off, including anti-slavery advocates William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Douglass. The regiment then departed Boston on the transport De Molay for the coast of South Carolina. Colonel Shaw and his troops landed at Hilton Head on June 3 and were soon forced to execute a destructive raid in Georgia. The colonel wrote General George Strong and argued that his troops had come South to fight for freedom and justice, not to destroy undefended towns with no military significance. He asked if the 54th might lead the next Union charge on the battlefield.
While they fought to end slavery in the Confederacy, the 54th also were fighting another injustice. The U.S. Army paid black soldiers $10 a week white soldiers got $3 more. In protest, the entire regiment — soldiers and officers alike — refused to accept their wages until black and white soldiers earned equal pay, which did not happen until the war was almost over.
On July 18, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts became famous for leading an assault on Fort Wagner, which guarded the Port of Charleston. Shaw led 600 of his men over Wagner’s fortified walls. Unfortunately, Union generals had miscalculated and 1,700 Confederate soldiers were ready for battle. Outgunned and outnumbered, nearly 300 of the charging soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. Shaw himself was shot on his way over the wall and died instantly. Sergeant William Carney of New Bedford was wounded three times in saving the American flag from Confederate capture. Carney’s bravery earned him the distinction of becoming the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The 54th lost the battle at Fort Wagner, but they did a great deal of damage there. Confederate troops abandoned the fort soon afterward. For the next two years, the regiment participated in a series of successful siege operations in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, before returning to Boston in September 1865.
On Memorial Day 1897, sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens unveiled a memorial to the 54th Massachusetts at the same spot on the Boston Common where the regiment had begun its march to war 34 years before. The high-relief bronze memorial to Colonel Shaw and the 54th Regiment was erected across from the Massachusetts State House through a fund established by Joshua B. Smith, a self-emancipated man from North Carolina. Smith was a caterer, former employee of the Shaw household, and a state representative from Cambridge. Among other tributes, a photographic reproduction of the 54th’s saved national flag is on display in the State House’s Hall of Flags and the 1989 film “Glory,” which won three Academy Awards, brought the story of the Assault on Fort Wagner to viewers worldwide.
BOSTON’S FREE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
“We can get at the throat of treason and slavery through the State of Massachusetts. She was first in the War of Independence first to break the chains of her slaves first to make the black man equal before the law first to admit colored children to her common schools… You know her patriotic governor, and you know Charles Sumner. I need not add more. Massachusetts now welcomes you as her soldiers.”
-Frederick Douglass. “Men of Color to Arms!” 1863.
It is not an accident that the 54th Massachusetts formed in Boston. In the decades prior to the American Civil War, Boston’s free African American community spearheaded a social revolution, leading the city and the nation in the struggle against slavery and injustice. Key leaders, such as Lewis Hayden, proved instrumental in the formation of the 54th and the African Meeting House, the center of Boston’s free African American community, served as a major recruitment post for the regiment. To learn more about this neighborhood, and the critical events in the decades prior to the Civil War, please explore the resources below.
Tucked away off today’s Joy Street in Beacon Hill, Smith Court served as a center for Boston’s African American community in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Explore how the Smith Court community contributed to both local and national history.
The powerful stories of freedom seekers escaping enslavement by stowing away on ships, and those that helped them in Boston.
This film explores the story of the rendition of Anthony Burns, a twenty-year-old freedom seeker arrested in 1854 under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law in Boston.
This 18-minute film, sponsored in part by the National Park Service Network to Freedom, details the life and accomplishments of Lewis Hayden. Lewis Hayden was born enslaved in Kentucky and escaped with his family on the Underground Railroad. He settled in Boston and became one of the most active fighters for freedom in the abolition movement.