This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
In 1851, Mr. Wilder, with others, called a convention of delegates from local agricultural societies in the State, to meet them in the State House, in Boston, and of that body he was chosen President. This, with the preceding action, lead to the creation of a permanent Board of Agriculture by the Legislature, sustaining a similar relation to this industrial art as the Board of Education does to the system of common instruction - having its own laws and secretary, and constituting a coordinate branch of State government Of this Board he has been a member from the beginning, and has taken a prominent part in all its deliberations and actions. It has a department in the Capitol, with a secretary, who superintends the farm connected with the State Reform School in Westborough, exerts a salutary influence upon the agriculture of the Commonwealth, and promises to do still more for its advancement.
Next he sought to extend this reformation through the country. He united with others in a call for a National Convention, composed of delegates from State Agricultural Societies, to meet in the city of Washington, on, the 24th day of June, 1851, a call which was cheerfully responded to. The meeting was fully attended by persons from various parts of the country, and by members of Congress, the President of the United States and Heads of Departments, and resulted in the formation of the United States Agricultural Society.
Having finished the business for which they had assembled, the members of the association resolved upon a visit to the Executive, and invited their presiding officer to accompany and introduce them. They called upon President Fillmore and Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, to each of whom he tendered their congratulations and whose aid he invoked in appropriate speeches, to which they responded.
Of this Convention and also of the Society, Mr. Wilder was chosen President The latter office he has held for three years. At its first annual meeting, February 2,1852, he delivered an address, in which he specified the objects of the Association and the means of accomplishing them. He presided at the first exhibition of the Society, which was restricted to that noble animal, the horse, and was held in Springfield, Mass,, October, 1853. It was attended by twenty thousand people, and many thousand dollars were awarded in premiums. Never before were so many rare specimens of the different breeds of that noble animal brought together. The sight of them, mounted or driven in the vast amphitheatre, was truly a sublime spectacle, and the occasion was pronounced by the journals of the day one of the most imposing ever witnessed in America.
At the festive board there were seated nearly two thousand persons, among whom were Hon. Abbot Lawrence, late Minister to England, Governor Seymour of New York, ex-Governor Floyd, of Virginia, and other distinguished guests.
The next exhibition of this Society was held in Springfield, Ohio, October, 1854, and was confined to neat cattle. It was attended by thousands, from all sections of the Union, from the Canadas, and from England. Several thousand dollars were awarded in premiums, and the show of animals surpassed in quality any that had been prcviously witnessed. Mr. Wilder delivered an address, and presided at the agricultural banquet, announcing with aptness and dignity a number of appropriate sentiments. To these, responses were offered by Hon. Mr. Campbell of Ohio, Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky, Governor Wright of Indiana, the Presidents of State Agricultural Societies, and other gentlemen of distinction. Of his speech the papers remark: "He addressed the assembled host in dignified and eloquent style. He spoke, as may readily be imagined, cheered in heart, at the spirit manifested in the great cause of agriculture, by the hardy yeomanry who had come up hither, and joined in the pleasures as well as exercises of the occasion.
His remarks were received with interruptions of applause, and demonstrations of great approbation." This association is largely indebted to him for its progress and prosperity.
Though he is emphatically a citizen of the whole country, truly American in sentiment and feeling; yet he possesses strong local attachments, an ardent love to the State of his nativity and to that of his adoption. From the first he took an active part in the association called "The Sons of New Hampshire;" a society which consists of the male offspring of that State resident in Boston and vicinity, a society of which the Hon. Daniel Webster was the first President, and Mr. Wilder the second. One presided at its first festival, the other at the second. On the former occasion, Mr. Wilder, who answered for the Governor's Council, closes his speech with the following illusion to New Hampshire:
"She has raised men - great men - and had she performed no other service, this alone were sufficient to associate her name with Sparta and Athens, in the history of mankind. Her Stark, to whom you have so happily alluded, Mr. President, was a modern Leonidas ; and, among her orators (pointing to Mr. Webster), no one would hesitate to point out a Demosthenes".
He was a great admirer of Mr. Webster, and when the great expounder of the Constitution died, there was no more sincere mourner than Mr. Wilder. He noticed the melancholy event on four distinct public occassions. The first was on the 30th of November, 1852, the day of the celebration of the obsequies of Mr. Webster in Boston, when at the head of many hundreds of the sons of New Hampshire, residents in that city and its suburbs, he received the Executive and Legislature of his native State, escorted them to the Capitol, and introduced them to the Executive and Legislature of Massachusetts, where he said:
"A mighty one has fallen! Our elder brother, New Hampshire's favorite son, is no more. All that was mortal of Daniel Webster, the great expounder of constitutional authority, and national rights, has been consigned to the bosom of his mother earth. The loss to us, to the country, and to the world, is irreparable. The whole nation mourns. Our city is hung in the drapery of woe, and the mourners go about the streets.
The second was at the anniversary of the United States Agricultural Society in the city of Washington, February 2, 1853, when he thus introduced the subject:
" The Marshfield farmer is numbered with the mighty dead. He was a farmer - the son of a farmer - and the noblest product of American soil".
And concluded with this beautiful apostrophe:
"Yes sainted patriot! There, in those celestial fields, where the sickle of the Great Reaper shall no more cat down the wise and the good, we hope at last to meet thee - there, in those pure realms, where the rainbow never fades, where thy brilliant star shall shine with pure effulgence, and where the high and glorious aspirations of thy soul shall be forever realized".
The third was a meeting of the Sons of New Hampshire, October 1853, when he was elected to succeed Mr. Webster, as President of that body:
"My heart will never cease to raise in praise and thanksgiving to the Giver of all good for the immaculate mind of Webster - a mind towering like the heaven-piercing summits of his native hills - but unlike them, never clouded. His intellect shone clear as the blue ethereal of the upper sky".
The fourth was at the second festival of that body in Boston, when having rendered a just tribute to the memory of Judge Woodbury, and others, whom death had removed from that brotherhood; and referring to his illustrious and lamented predecessor as President of the Association, he said:
"Last, but not least, on the star-sprangled roll, is the name of Daniel Webster, whose official relation to this body demands a grateful tribute to his memory. Who of us can forget his majestic form and mountain brow, as he then stood before us, the very impersonation of greatness and power- 'Like some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm., And in view of the closing hour of his life, fringed with the rosy tints of a fairer to-morrow; in view of his serenity of mind, his Christian resignation, and his hope of a glorious immortality - may we not add, with little modification, the other lines of this beautiful stanza - 'Though round his breast the rolling clouds were spread, Eternal sunshine settled on his head".
Over the Norfolk County Agricultural Society, the United States Agricultural Society, and the American Pomological Society, Mr. Wilder still presides. He has also been honored with diplomas of membership in most of the American and European Horticultural Societies, and is the Commissioner of Pomology for the Belgian Government, in America.
He is yet in the vigor of manhood, and on the flood tide of success. He has, we are informed, works in the course of preparation on his favorite arts, which promise to be of great value to the world. His numerous speeches and addresses, if collected and published in a uniform edition, would make a large and valuable volume. None have contributed more to promote American horticulture and agriculture. His affable, yet dignified manners, his appropriateness on all occasions, and his long and valuable services, render him a favorite with the common people, and also with the elite of society. He is now on life's meridian, and the public have elevated expectations from his future labors. Long may it be before his sun shall decline; and when it sets, may it go down shining in its strength.