Chester A. Arthur

Address at the Dedication of the Washington Monument

February 21, 1885


Before the dawn of the century whose eventful years will soon have faded into the past—when death had but lately robbed this Republic of its most beloved and illustrious citizen—the Congress of the United States pledged the faith of the nation that in this city bearing his honored name, and then, as now, the seat of the General Government, a monument should be erected "to commemorate the great events of his military and political life."

The stately column that stretches heavenward from the plain whereon we stand bears witness to all who behold it that the covenant which our fathers made their children have fulfilled.

In the completion of this great work of patriotic endeavor there is abundant cause for national rejoicing; for while this structure shall endure it shall be to all mankind a steadfast token of the affectionate and reverent regard in which this people continue to hold the memory of Washington. Well may he ever keep the foremost place in the hearts of his countrymen.

The faith that never faltered; the wisdom that was broader and deeper than any learning taught in schools; the courage that shrank from no peril and was dismayed by no defeat; the loyalty that kept all selfish purpose subordinate to the demands of patriotism and honor; the sagacity that displayed itself in camp and cabinet alike; and, above all, that harmonious union of moral and intellectual qualities which has never found its parallel among men—these are the attributes of character which the intelligent thought of this century ascribes to the grandest figure of the last.

But other and more eloquent lips than mine will to-day rehearse to you the story of his noble life and its glorious achievements. To myself has been assigned a simpler and more formal duty, in fulfillment of which I do now, as President of the United States and in behalf of the people, receive this monument from the hands of its builder and declare it dedicate from this time forth to the immortal name and memory of George Washington.

Source: State Papers, Etc., Etc., [sic] of Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States. Washington, 1885.

Chester A. Arthur, Address at the Dedication of the Washington Monument Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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