Calvin Coolidge photo

Address at the Dedication of the Arizona State Stone in the Washington Monument

April 15, 1924

We have come here this afternoon to dedicate, as part of the noble shaft which has been reared in memory of the father of His Country, the stone which will stand for Arizona, the latest State to be admitted to the Union which Washington made possible. It is an occasion of peculiar historical significance, because it recalls to us some of the curious anomalies of our national history. Although Arizona was last of the 48 States to take its place in the Union it is able to make a very well founded claim that white men had settled on its soil a long time before they had established themselves in any of the original thirteen states. So ancient was the beginning of migration to the far southwest, that there seems little doubt that to this region is due the distinction of having the earliest settlements of white men. Yet despite that, we may very safely doubt whether George Washington ever heard of Arizona. Far less can we imagine his vision of the nation which he had founded including so soon these distant regions of the continent's Pacific side.

The teeming millions and restless energies of the 19th century expanded our country to its present magnificent proportions, and gave to us Arizona, now ranking as the latest addition to the family of States. So it comes to claim, as we are proud to accord, its representation in the national memorial to the Great Founder.

Most fittingly, this occasion has brought together representatives of nation-wide and historic patriotic organizations. The placing of a State stone involves a tribute to Washington the man, the leader, the founder. The symbolism is altogether different from that of adding a star to the Flag when a new State is admitted. Here today we are paying another tribute to the man whose vision and courage made possible our national existence. It was a fine conception, this, of placing a stone for every State in the Monument to Washington. Who among us will venture to guess how many more times this ceremony will be performed? On the day when Arizona, only a little over a decade ago, took its place in the Union, one might have been forgiven the venture that it would be many decades, perhaps for all time, the last of the States. Yet even now, turning our eyes around the circle of American possessions, we perceive the evidences, I think we may almost say the assurance, that before many more years our successors will gather here again and once more survey the wonder of American development, as they dedicate the stone of the 49th State. After that, the story of the States will be written by the finger of destiny on the scroll of the long future. It is not for us to know what that story may be. I hope it can be of duty done to the world, but without aggrandizement, without imperialism.

I have thought of today's ceremony as a sort of home gathering of the States, in honor of the coming of age of the youngest member of the family. It is Arizona's day, and to Arizona we bring our congratulations, our tributes, our affection and our good wishes for her future. With a landed estate so vast as to be comparable with the areas of some of the greatest nations of the World, Arizona is certain to be one of the imperial commonwealths of the future. Do we fully realize that the Valley of the Nile, producing sustenance for the mother civilizations, and long afterward serving as the granary of Imperial Rome, was not to be compared for area of productive possibilities to the great valleys of semi-tropic Arizona when they shall presently have been watered by the works of engineering, as the Nile was watered by the works of nature.

The Arizona of the future will be the world's marvel as an area of agricultural production. Beyond that, its riches in forests, in metals and minerals, in the inviting glories of the world's most wonderful scenery will make it one of the wealthiest states.

Here in this great Southwest we will see builded one day a social structure, based on such a variety of resources and interests, that it will command a place among the foremost communities of our America.

It is to this Arizona of tomorrow, to this greater Southwest which the not distant future will know, as we cannot yet fully conceive it, that we today extend the hand of welcome. We dedicated its stone in this national Monument, knowing that its destiny is to represent here a commonwealth the like of which we shall not find unless we go back to study the wonders of Egypt and of Babylon. And yet it is only one of the 48 imperial communities which make up our Nation, in which the people hold the proud distinction of being at once citizens and sovereigns.

This occasion has it important and impressive symbolism. Just as this stone and its associates when joined together make a new and altogether different structure than is represented by each standing alone, so the joining of the States makes a new and different political structure. Yet as in this Monument, each stone must remain intact, or the structure falls, so in our Nation each State must remain intact, or the political edifice falls.

If we are to maintain the Nation and its Government, institutions with a fair semblance of the principles on which they were founded, two policies must always be supported. First, the principle of local self-government in harmony with the needs of each State. This means that in general the States should not surrender, but retain their sovereignty, and keep control of their own government. Second, a policy of local reflection of nation-wide public opinion. Each State must shape its course to conform to the generally accepted sanctions of society and to the needs of the Nation. It must protect the health and provide for the education of its own citizens. The policy is already well recognized in the association of the States for the promotion and adoption of uniform laws. Unless this policy be adopted by the States, interference by the Nation cannot be resisted.

Throughout our whole Nation there is an irresistible urge for the maintenance of the highest possible standards of government and society. Unless this sentiment is heeded and observed by appropriate state action, there is always grave danger of encroachment upon the states by the National Government. But it must always be realized that such encroachment is a hazardous undertaking, and should be adopted only as a last resort. The true course to be followed is the maintenance of the integrity of each state by local laws and social customs, which will place it in comparative harmony with all the others. By such a method, which can only be the result of great effort, constantly exerted, it will be possible to maintain an "Indestructible Union of Indestructible States." The maintenance of this position rises in importance above the hope of any other benefits, which constant changes would be likely to secure. The Nation can be inviolate only as it insists that Arizona be inviolate.

Calvin Coolidge, Address at the Dedication of the Arizona State Stone in the Washington Monument Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives