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of a proportional height." In 1816, the subject was again discussed without effect. Congress again made an application, in 1832, to the proprietors of Mount Vernon, for the removal and deposit of the remains of Washington in the Capitol, in conformity with the resolution of 1799. The legislature of Virginia protested against the movement, and Mr. John A. Washington declined the proposal.
On the 26th of September, 1833, several citizens of Washington assembled together, and in the course of a series of meeting, digested a plan for erecting a national monument. An organization was formed, styled the Washington National Monument Society, and Chief Justice John Marshall was chosen president. Since the death of Judge Marshall, the successive Presidents of the United States have held that position, by the constitution of the society.
Subscriptions, limited to one dollar, were immediately commenced, for raising the requisite funds; and this system being found inadequate, in 1846 the donations were made unlimited, but the collection still increased very slowly. It became necessary to decide upon a plan for the edifice, and from a large number of designs, mostly fantastic and ill conceived, that of Robert Mills was finally selected, consisting of an Egyptian obelisk, six hundred feet in height, surrounded by a Doric colonnade called a pantheon, to contain statues and revolutionary relics. The site of the monument was set apart by the President of the United States, under an act of Congress of January 21, 1848, and covers thirty acres of ground, near the Potomac, directly west of the Capitol and south of the President's mansion, commanding a full view of the river. It is at the intersection of Louisiana and
Virginia avenues, upon the Mall, and is called Monument Square.
The corner-stone was laid July 4, 1848. At ten o'clock that morning, a grand military, civic, and Masonic procession was formed at the City Hall, under the direction of Mr. Joseph H. Bradley, Marshal of the day; the military being under the command of Major-General Quitman. Included in the procession were delegations from several tribes of Indians. The line formed eight abreast, numbering about four thousand, and marched to the Monument Square, with banners flying, martial music, and the solemn tolling of the bells of the city. Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, the orator of the day, delivered an eloquent oration upon the life and character of Washington. His peroration contained the following beautiful language:
Let the column which we are about to construct, be at once a pledge and an emblem of perpetual union! Let the foundations be laid, let the superstructure be built up and cemented, let each stone be raised and riveted, in a spirit of national brotherhood! And may the earliest ray of the rising sun-till that sun shall set to rise no more— draw forth from it daily, as from the fabled statue of antiquity, a strain of national harmony, which shall strike a responsive cord in every heart throughout the Republic! Proceed, then, fellow-citizens, with the work for which you have assembled! Lay the corner-stone of a monument which shall adequately bespeak the gratitude of the whole American People to the illustrious Father of his Country! Build it to the skies: you cannot outreach the loftiness of his principles! Found it upon the massive and eternal rock: you cannot make it more enduring than his fame! Construct it of the peerless Parian marble: you cannot make it purer than his life! Exhaust upon it the rules and principles of ancient and modern art: you cannot make it more proportionate than his character!
The Republic may perish; the wide arch of our ranged Union may fall; star by star its glories may expire; stone after stone its columns and its capital may moulder and crumble; all other names which adorn its annals may be forgotten; but as long as human hearts shall anywhere pant, or human tongues shall anywhere plead, for a true, rational, constitutional liberty, those hearts shall enshrine the memory, and those tongues shall prolong the fame, of George Washington.
The Grand Master then delivered an appropriate Masonic address, after which the Fraternity entered, beneath a beautifully decorated arch, to the excavation, where the Grand Master of Masons laid the corner-stone, with the usual ceremonies. The stone, weighing twelve tons, had been prepared with a cavity lined with zinc, into which the inscription plate was placed, together with about one hundred other articles, consisting of books, portraits, maps, newspapers, coins and medals, Masonic records, and the design of the monument. The Grand Master wore the apron and used the gavel with which Washington laid the corner-stone of the Capitol. The inscription upon the plate was as follows:
4TH JULY, 1776, DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
4TH JULY, 1848,
THIS CORNER-STONE LAID, OF A MONUMENT, BY THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.
The names of the officers of the society were also inscribed on the plate. The ceremony of the day was closed by a brilliant display of fire-works in the evening.
The foundation of the monument is solid rock. The base of the shaft is 81 feet square, and the shaft is to rise
to the height of 600 feet, and to be encircled by a grand colonnade or pantheon, 250 feet in diameter and 100 feet high; over the portico of which is a colossal statue of Washington, 30 feet high, in a chariot drawn by six horses, driven by Victory, all of colossal proportions. The colonnade is to consist of 30 columns, 12 feet in diameter and 45 feet high, surrounded by an entablature of 20 feet, and a balustrade 15 feet in height. The entablature will be decorated with the arms of the States, inclosed in wreaths of bronze. The portico consists of a projection supported by four columns, and is reached by a grand flight of marble steps. Over the centre of the portico will be emblazoned the arms of the United States. The interior, or rotunda, will be ornamented with statues of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, set in niches in the surrounding wall; and upon the wall, above the niches, will be represented, in basso-relievo, the principal battles of the Revolution. Conspicuous in front of the entrance of the rotunda, will stand a statue of Washington. Within the stylobate or base of the monument, will be a labyrinth of apartments arranged in a most intricate man
The material of which the facing of the monument is constructed, is what is known as Symington's large crystal marble, procured from the vicinity of Baltimore. The body of the wall is of blue gneiss. The interior lining is to be decorated with blocks presented by the different States and foreign nations, societies and city corporations, ornamented with coats of arms and appropriate inscriptions, and so disposed in the wall as to be visible in ascending the shaft of the monument. The ascent will be by a spiral iron staircase, lighted with gas,—the only open
ings, except the doors below, being star-shaped windows near. the top. It is proposed to close the apex with a cone of glass. Besides the staircase, the ascent will be made by means of machinery up the centre of the shaft. The present height of the structure is 184 feet. It is to be hoped that more active measures will be taken, and that the plan will be carried out by the government; as that is the only proper and effective method of securing the necessary means for its completion.
The United States has not yet reached the age of monument-building. This nation has not even emerged from the youth of action into the prime of its history, and has yet to run a long and brilliant career before it shall pass into a dotage of inactivity, when it can afford to rest upon the laurels of the past. It can then spend its second childhood in recording the annals of gathered glories, and in erecting splendid monuments over the ashes of departed merit. When our wealth and population shall have increased, and the federal and democratic spirit of the present shall have yielded to the sway of interest, and an inevitable aristocracy; then an austere administration will possess the power and means of dedicating magnificent memorials to the merit of which the age will find itself most in need.
The great monuments of other nations have all been erected at government expense, and at the will of despotic rulers. The pyramids of Egypt would never have been built by voluntary subscription. The Dacian victories of Trajan would have remained uncommemorated, if his pictured column had awaited the denarii of the Roman people. The column of Antonine, the triumphal arches of the Roman emperors, the Hotel des Invalides,