The Illinois State Democrat, 15 August 1860
Story of a Shoe-Buckle.
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   A recent notice of James T. Woodbury's name, in connection with a temperance anecdote, brought to our mind, among other things, a certain pair of those old-fashioned shoe-buckles, of which we are tempted to speak.
    Mr. Woodbury, in connection with Daniel Webster, had procured from Congress a pension for the Widow Leighton, the aged relict of Captain Issac Davis, who fell at the head of the Action “Minute-men” at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, in the first armed resistance made to British oppression in America. Mrs. Leighton would insist that Mr. Woodbury should receive some sort of pay for his efforts on her account. Resisting, however, any such idea, but disposed to humor her wish, he finally said to her, that “if she had anything of Davis's which he could put among his collection of mementos of the Revolution, he would be most happy to receive it.” She arose, tottered to an old chest, and took from the bottom of it a pair of shoe-buckles. “These,” said she, “I have sacredly kept from the day they were taken from my husband's feet, the 19th day of April, 1776. They are the only article of his which I have retained. Though I meant never to part with them, I am glad to give them now to you. That appearance of rust on them is Mr. Davis's blood. They were bespattered with it as it spouted from his heart, through which, you know, he was shot, at the Old North Bridge. They have never been wiped since.¹
    She could say no more. That they both wiped their tears for the unwiped buckles we need not add, possibly you may be doing the same thing. How often, in the connections of history, are accidents apparently the most trivial!
    When, some seven years ago, Mr. Woodbury was pleading in the Legislature of Massachusetts for aid to build the “Acton Monument”—and many of the members were so imbued with “peace principles” as to think it wrong even to commemorate the battles of the Revolution—and he was likely to fail in his object through the general opposition, he sent to the speaker's desk these shoe-buckles, stating their history at the same time, and requesting the speaker to take them in his hands. “The touch of them, sir, will do you good. They have an eloquence that can be felt. Circulate them now, if you please, sir, through the house. It will do the 'peace men' good, also, to touch them. There is patriotic blood on them, sir, and a virtue in them to stir the patriotic blood, if there be any, in every gentleman's heart. I wish them to circulate, sir, and I will say no more. Like the 'poor, dumb mouths' of Csar's wounds I bid them speak for me.”
    If the spirit of '76 had been discharged on the house, like galvanism from a battery, the effect could not have been more thrilling. The “peace-men” said, “You are wrong, Mr. Woodbury, but we shall vote the appropriation, notwithstanding.” They did so, and the monument in question towers on the Acton Common, not less to show the issue often of an unintended trifle than the noblest results of the most determined virtues.—College Echo.

Footnotes:
1 — The buckles on display in the first case of the “Not Afraid To Go” exhibit appear to have been cleaned at some point.