Ceremonies at the 1897 Unveiling of the Washington Monument








THE unveiling of the monument was attended by ceremonies of an impressive and patriotic character. The monument was unveiled by His Excellency William McKinley, the President of the United States, in the presence of Hon. Garret A. Hobart, the Vice-President of the United States, M. Jules Patenotre, the Ambassador of the French Republic, Hon. Lyman J. Gage, the Secretary of the Treasury, General Russell A. Alger, the Secretary of War, Hon. James Wilson, the Secretary of Agriculture, Hon. Cornelius N. Bliss, the Secretary of the Interior, Hon. James A. Gary, the Postmaster-General, and Hon. Joseph McKenna, the Attorney-General of the United States, John Addison Porter, Esq., the Secretary to the President, leading officers of the Army and Navy of the United States, Hon. Ebe W. Tunnell, Hon. Daniel H. Hastings, and Hon. John W. Griggs, the Governors of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey respectively, the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, Hon. William L. Strong, the Mayor of New York, Hon. Charles F. Warwick, the Mayor of Philadelphia, members of the Fairmount Park Commission and City Councils of Philadelphia, and other prominent State and City officials. Many thousands of citizens were interested spectators of the event.

The ceremonies began shortly after two o’clock in the afternoon, upon the arrival of the President, whose escort, the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, headed a grand military and naval procession, which passed the President in review after the unveiling of the monument.

Major William Wayne, President of the State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania and President-General of The Society of the Cincinnati, presided at the ceremonies at the stand of the Society directly opposite the monument.


Right Reverend O. W. Whitaker, the Bishop of Pennsylvania, invoked Divine blessings as follows :—

Almighty and Everlasting God, Who rulest over all things from the beginning, in Whom alone we live and move and have our being, and from Whom cometh every good and perfect gift, we thank Thee for this land in which we live, for the nation in which Thou hast granted us the privilege of citizenship, for all the favorable conditions of our lives, for the increase of knowledge, for the better understanding of Thy marvelous works, for the manifestations of Thy goodness and power, of which the world is full. We thank Thee for the government under which we live and for the civil and religious institutions in whose benefits we share.

Especially on this day do we thank Thee for the life and character and work of Thy servant, George Washington, in whose honor and for the perpetuation of whose memory we are here assembled. We thank Thee that Thou didst raise him up to be a leader and commander in the time when men’s hearts were failing them for fear, and didst qualify him by faith and integrity and wisdom and singleness of purpose to conduct this people out of dissension and strife and conflict into unity and peace and the consciousness of increasing strength.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may never forget the heroism and unselfish devotion which he continually illustrated in his public and private life. May the citizens of these United States learn to practice his virtues and to be animated by his spirit. May they learn from him never to sacrifice truth for gain, nor to value…


At the conclusion of the prayer Major Wayne made the following remarks:—

FELLOW-CITIZENS:—The death of Washington was not more keenly felt or more deeply mourned by any body of citizens than by his late compatriots in arms, the members of the Society of the Cincinnati, who had followed him on the field with varying fortunes, through the eight years’ struggle for American independence.

This Society, composed of officers of the Army of the Revolution, was organized in 1783, at their cantonment on the Hudson River, just prior to its dissolution. Its purpose was “to perpetuate as well the remembrance of this vast event (the separation of the colonies of North America from the domination of Great Britain) as the mutual friendships which have been formed under the pressure of common danger, and in many instances cemented by the blood of the parties.”

One of the principles of the Society was:—

“An incessant attention to preserve inviolate those exalted rights and liberties of human nature for which they have fought and bled, and without which the high rank of a rational being is a curse instead of a blessing.

“An unalterable determination to promote and cherish between the respective States that union and national honor so essentially necessary to their happiness and the future dignity of the American Empire.”

Washington was chosen its first President and continued to hold the office up to the time of his death in 1799. For convenience the general Society was divided into thirteen societies—one in each of the States.

At a meeting of the State Society of Pennsylvania, on July 4th, 1810, it was resolved that “a permanent memorial of their respect for the memory of the late Father of his Country, General George Washington, should be established by the creation of a monument in the city of Philadelphia.”

In furtherance of this design a committee of five members was appointed to invite subscriptions of money from the friends of the Society.

On July 4th, 1819, the committee reported the receipt of $3376.59-

By careful management of this fund, together with the addition to it of another fund collected for the same purpose, the Society felt warranted in the year 1877 in inviting designs for the monument. This invitation was widely published throughout this country and abroad.

A large number of models were submitted to the Society, each one of much merit, but in the opinion of those competent to judge the design of Professor Rudolph Siemering, of Berlin, was most deserving of recommendation, and it was adopted by the Society; and you have presented to you the fulfillment of the Society’s resolution of July 4th, 1810.


The President [of the United States], accompanied by Major William Wayne, Richard Dale, Francis M. Caldwell, Charles Peaslee Turner, M. D., and Harris E. Sproat, Trustees of the monument on behalf of the State Society of the Cincinnati, and Colonel John Biddle Porter, Chairman, and William Macpherson Hornor, Secretary of the Committee of the Society on the unveiling, crossed the driveway to the steps of the monument, where the President pulled a cord which released two large American flags with which the monument was draped. Amid cheers the monument was unveiled, national salutes were fired by Light Battery E, First Artillery, U. S. A., stationed nearby, and by the United States war vessels “Texas” and “Terror,” the French aviso “Fulton,” and the United States Revenue cutter “Hamilton,” anchored in the Delaware River.


Returning to the stand, after being introduced by Major Wayne, President McKinley spoke as follows:—

FELLOW-CITIZENS:—There is a peculiar and tender sentiment connected with this memorial. It expresses not only the gratitude and reverence of the living, but is a testimonial of affection and homage from the dead.

The comrades of Washington projected this monument. Their love inspired it. Their contributions helped to build it. Past and present share in its completion, and future generations will profit by its lessons.

To participate in the dedication of such a monument is a rare and precious privilege. Every monument to Washington is a tribute to patriotism. Every shaft and statue to his memory helps to inculcate love of country, encourage loyalty, and establish a better citizenship. God bless every undertaking which revives patriotism and rebukes the indifferent and lawless! A critical study of Washington’s career only enhances our estimation of his vast and varied abilities.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Colonial armies from the beginning of the war to the proclamation of peace, as President of the Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States and as the first President of the United States under that Constitution, Washington has a distinction differing from that of all other illustrious Americans. No other name bears or can bear such a relation to the Government. Not only by his military genius—his patience, his sagacity, his courage, and his skill—was our national independence won, but he helped in largest measure to draft the chart by which the Nation was guided; and he was the first chosen of the people to put in motion the new Government.

His was not the boldness of martial display or the charm of captivating oratory, but his calm and steady judgment won men’s support and commanded their confidence by appealing to their best and noblest aspirations. And withal Washington was ever so modest that at no time in his career did his personality seem in the least intrusive. He was above the temptation of power. He spurned the suggested crown. He would have no honor which the people did not bestow.

An interesting fact—and one which I love to recall—is that the only time Washington formally addressed the Constitutional Convention during all its sessions over which he presided in this city, he appealed for a larger representation of the people in the National House of Representatives, and his appeal was instantly heeded. Thus was he ever keenly watchful of the rights of the people in whose hands was the destiny of our Government then and now.

Masterful as were his military campaigns, his civil administration commands equal admiration. His foresight was marvelous; his conception of the philosophy of government, his insistence upon the necessity of education, morality, and enlightened citizenship to the progress and permanence of the Republic cannot be contemplated even at this period without filling us with astonishment at the breadth of his comprehension and the sweep of his vision.

His was no narrow view of government. The immediate present was not his sole concern, but our future good his constant theme of study. He blazed the path of liberty. He laid the foundation upon which we have grown from weak and scattered Colonial governments to a united Republic, whose domains and power as well as whose liberty and freedom have become the admiration of the world. Distance and time have not detracted from the fame and force of his achievements or diminished the grandeur of his life and work. Great deeds do not stop in their growth, and those of Washington will expand in influence in all the centuries to follow.

The bequest Washington has made to civilization is rich beyond computation. The obligations under which he has placed mankind are sacred and commanding. The responsibility he has left for the American people, to preserve and perfect what he accomplished, is exacting and solemn. Let us rejoice in every new evidence that the people realize what they enjoy, and cherish with affection the illustrious heroes of Revolutionary story whose valor and sacrifices made us a nation. They live in us, and their memory will help us keep the covenant entered into for the maintenance of the freest Government of earth.

The Nation and the name of Washington. are inseparable. One is linked indissolubly with the other. Both are glorious, both triumphant. Washington lives and will live, because what he did was for the exaltation of man, the enthronement of conscience, and the establishment of a Government which recognizes all the governed. And so, too, will the Nation live victorious over all obstacles, adhering to the immortal principles which Washington taught and Lincoln sustained.


Major Wayne then formally presented the monument to the City of Philadelphia, in the following words:—

YOUR HONOR, MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA:—I am instructed by the State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania to present through you to the City of Philadelphia this work, at last finished, after ninety years of preparation.

This monument certainly finds a fitting place in the city where Washington spent many years of his official life—the city where was convened the first Continental Congress in Carpenters’ Hall, and where met in Independence Hall the framers of the immortal Declaration, and where it was promulgated. Where also the Constitution of the United States was formulated in 1787 and adopted—an instrument which has been pronounced among the most perfect of human productions for the government of man.

You will accept this gift to preserve in the beautiful Park of your great city as an object lesson to succeeding generations of the reverence and devotion Posterity pays to unselfish Patriotism.


Charles F. Warwick, Esq., Mayor of Philadelphia, in accepting the monument on behalf of the munici¬pality, spoke as follows:—

MY FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN:—On behalf of the City of Philadelphia I accept this monument dedicated to the memory of Washington, and pledge the honor of our people to its preservation and patriotic care.

The Nation is under deep and lasting obligations to the Society of the Cincinnati, for by this generous gift another shrine, where we can all meet on common ground, has been erected within the borders of the Republic.

Philadelphia above all other places in the country is where this monument should stand. Historic in association, national in her patriotism, and American in all her purposes, she is the guardian by right of such a memorial.

Here met the first as well as the second Continental Congress, here was signed the immortal Declaration, here Washington was chosen to take command of the…

The ceremony was followed by a military parade.