« AnteriorContinuar »
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES,
FOURTH OF JUL Y, 1848,
OCCASION OF LAYING THE CORNER-STONE
NATIONAL MONUMENT TO THE MEMORY OF WASHINGTON.
Published by Order of the National Monument Society.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
JUL 8 1937
BY ORDER OF A COMMITTEE OF CITIZENS OF MASSACHUSETTS,
BY JOAN WILSON & Son, 22, SCHOOL-STREET, Boston.
We are assembled to take the first step towards the fulfilment of a long-deferred obligation. In this eight and fortieth year since his death, we have come together to lay the corner-stone of a National Monument to WashINGTON.
Other monuments to this illustrious person have long ago been erected. By not a few of the great States of our Union, by not a few of the great cities of our States, the chiselled statue or the lofty column has been set up in his honor. The highest art of the Old World — of France, of Italy, and of England, successively — has been put in requisition for the purpose. Houdon for Virginia, Canova for North Carolina, Sir Francis Chantrey for Massachusetts, have severally signalized their genius by portraying and perpetuating the form and features of the Father of his Country.
Nor has the Congress of the nation altogether failed of its duty in this respect. The massive and majestic figure which presides over the precincts of the Capitol, and which seems almost in the act of challenging a new vow of allegiance to the Constitution and the Union from every one who approaches it, is a visible testimony - and one not the less grateful to an American eye, as being the masterly production of a native artist * - that the government of the country has not been unmindful of what it owes to Washington.
One tribute to his memory is left to be rendered. One monument remains to be reared. A monument which shall bespeak the gratitude, not of states, or of cities, or of governments; not of separate communities, or of official bodies; but of the people, the whole people of the nation; a National Monument, erected by the citizens of the United States of America.
Of such a monument we have come to lay the cornerstone here and now. On this day, on this spot, in this presence, and at this precise epoch in the history of our country and of the world, we are about to commence this crowning work of commemoration.
The day, the place, the witnesses, the period in the world's history and in our own history, — all, all are most appropriate to the occasion.
The day is appropriate. On this 4th day of July,emphatically the People's day, — we come most fitly to acknowledge the People's debt to their first and greatest benefactor.
Washington, indeed, had no immediate connection with the immortal act of the 4th of July, 1776. His signature did not attest the Declaration of Independence. But the sword by which that Independence was to be achieved was already at his side, and already had he struck the blow which rendered that Declaration inevitable.
“ Hostibus primo fugatis, Bostonium recuperatum," is the inscription on the medal which commemorates Washington's earliest triumph. And, when the British forces were compelled to evacuate Boston on the 17th day of March, 1776, bloodless though the victory was, the question was irrevocably settled, that Independence, and not the mere redress of grievances, was to be the momentous stake of our colonial struggle.
* Horatio Greenough.
Without the event of the 4th of July, it is true, Washington would have found no adequate opening for that full career of military and civil glory which has rendered him illustrious for ever. But it is equally true, that, without Washington, this day could never have acquired that renown in the history of human liberty, which now, above all other days, it enjoys. We may not say, that the man made the day, or the day the man; but we may say, that, by the blessing of God, they were made for each other, and both for the highest and most enduring good of America and of the world.
The place is appropriate. We are on the banks of his own beloved and beautiful Potomac. On one side of us, within a few hours' sail, are the hallowed scenes amid which Washington spent all of his mature life which was not devoted to the public service of the country, and where still repose, in their original resting-place, all that remained of him when life was over. On the other side, and within our more immediate view, is the Capitol of the Republic, standing on the site selected by himself, and within whose walls the rights which he vindicated, the principles which he established, the institutions which he founded, have been, and are still to be, maintained, developed, and advanced.
The witnesses are appropriate, and such as eminently befit the occasion.
The President of the United States is here; and feels, I am persuaded, that the official distinction which he lends to the scene has no higher personal charm, if any higher public dignity, than that which it derives from its associations with his earliest and most illustrious predecessor. “I hold the place which Washington held,” must be a reflection capable of sustaining a Chief Magistrate under any and every weight of responsibility and care, and of elevating him to the pursuit of the purest and loftiest ends.
Representatives of foreign nations are here, ready to bear witness to the priceless example which America has given to the world, in the character of him whose fame has long