Calvin Coolidge photo

Address at the Dedication of the New Mexico Stone in the Washington Monument

December 02, 1927

Fellow Citizens:

The service we have gathered to perform this afternoon is of deep significance. We are to dedicate the stone which New Mexico has embodied in this noble monument. It represents not only the tribute of the "Sunshine State" to Washington but is a token of the part she has in the unity binding together our 48 Commonwealths.

Reared by worshipful and grateful People, his rugged shaft stands a visible and concrete expression of our reverence. Washington has his most impressive memorial in the Nation he brought into being. This massive pile will sooner crumble and pass away than the fame of him whose name it bears. But its symbolism is very real. Both its beauty and its strength lie in the simplicity characterizing its massive but symmetrical form. Modeled after the obelisks of ancient Egypt, it differs from them in an essential particular. They are monoliths, hewn out of the solid rock. This is built, stone upon stone, forming a solid and harmonious structure, just as America is composed of 48 States joined by the cohesive power of our Constitution.

It was a happy thought that each State should give a stone to form a part of this National Monument - a stone typical of her mineral deposits. Only one is now unrepresented; and steps have been taken to add that forty-eighth stone. This is the forty-seventh State stone, but in all 186 have been placed here in tribute to Washington. There are 10 from foreign countries; and others are gifts of various cities and civic, benevolent, fraternal, religious, and patriotic organizations - all spontaneous expressions of homage to a great and universal character.

New Mexico attained statehood less than 16 years ago. But, she has claim to the earliest civilization on the North American Continent. None of our States is richer in historic lore, in legend, and in romance; none more interesting on the archaeologist and the ethnologist. In 1539, 68 years before the founding of Jamestown in Virginia, and 81 years before the Mayflowerreached Plymouth Rock, Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan friar, pushed toward the north from Mexico City to explore in unknown regions. The Spaniards called the territory he discovered New Mexico. There he found the Pueblo Indians, clad in cotton and woolen clothing woven by themselves, living in well-built adobe villages, with houses of several stories. They were apparently well versed in the agricultural arts.

An expedition under Juan de Oñate formed a colony in 1598, and in 1605 Santa Fe was bounded and designated as the seat of government. It is second oldest city in the United States, being outranked only by St. Augustine, in Florida. In 1821 New Mexico, which originally vaquely included all of what are now the State of Arizona and Utah, nearly all of Colorado and parts of Texas and Kansas, became a province of Mexico, which had declared its independence of Spain. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny in 1848 took possession of this rich country in the name of the United States. Two years later it became a Territory. The sections now parts of other States were gradually given up. In 1863 western New Mexico became the Territory and in February, 1912, the State of Arizona. A month earlier New Mexico had arrived at full statehood.

Too little is known of the beauties, advantages, and possibilities of this Commonwealth. It is an empire in itself, ranking in size fourth of all the States, having 123,000 square miles, or 78,000,000 acres. Her area equals New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina combined. The estimated population - about 400,000 - is less than four persons to each square mile.

The Federal Government has done much, and will do more, to aid in the development of this extensive domain. She has given 12,000,000 acres of land for schools and other public purposes, and established seven national forests, totaling more than 8,000,000 acres, valued at $42,600,000. Agriculturists are almost wholly dependent on irrigation, and the Government works of that character, including the big dam at Elephant Butte, are said to be worth more than $12,000,000 a year to these people. It is estimated that the waters of the Rio Grande and Rio Pecos, when properly controlled, will be sufficient to irrigate 3,000,000 acres. New Mexico is interested primarily in raising livestock, the condition of which has improved greatly in the last few years. In 1921 she had 2,200,000 head of sheep, valued at $13,000,000. Today the number is greater by 300,000, while the value has risen to $22,000,000. In 1922 there were 1,200,000 head of cattle valued at $31,000,000. There has been no increase in the number, but the value has gone up to $37,000,000, a gain of some 20 per cent. In addition to the immensely valuable timber above ground there are rich mineral resources beneath the soil - gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, and an abundance of coal. Manufacturing has not been developed to any great extent, but the possibilities along this line, when cheap waterpower is secured, are very great.

The scenic wonders and the unusual healthfulness of the climate are not as widely appreciated as they deserve. Most of the State is a softy plateau with an elevation of 3,000 feet and over, and there are seven peaks ranging from 12,000 to 14,000 feet. Some one has called it a "Land of High Colors and High Places," and it has every right to be known as the "Land of Sunshine." Records show a yearly average of about 200 totally clear days; and seldom are there more than 50 days when the sun does not shine at all. One of the larger hospitals of the Federal Veterans’ Bureau has been established at Fort Bayard. The United States Public Health Service operates a sanitarium at Fort Stanton. More and more this attractive region is being visited by those in search of health and recreation. Inevitably, these sojourners will broadcast word of the commercial and agricultural opportunities to be found there. The State will expand in population, industries, and wealth, illustrating her motto chiseled into her stone: "Crescit Eundo," which, being translated, means "It grows as it goes."

We have the anomaly of State, with a background of civilization older than that of any other State, having spread before her the bright prospect of a vast development under modern, scientific, industrial, agricultural, educational, architectural, and sanitary standards.

Our Union of States is like a family. Each member has its own distinctive characteristics and individuality, but each is bound to the others, not alone by the provisions of the Constitution, but by sentiments of mutual respect and regard. While each must maintain its own peculiar functions and sovereignty, each must observe the rights of the others to the extent that each has consented to abide by that General Charter under which we exist. We must guard zealously against sectional antagonisms. The integrity of every State must be preserved and her prosperity considered, but each community and section must not fail to remember that the welfare of the Nation as a whole depends upon cooperation and mutual helpfulness.

This is New Mexico's Day, and her sister states extend hearty congratulations and fervent good wishes for her future prosperity, in which the Nation most heartily joins.

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

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