Grover Cleveland

Remarks at the Dedication of the James A. Garfield Memorial Statue

May 12, 1887

Fellow-Citizens: In performance of the duty assigned to me on this occasion I hereby accept, on behalf of the people of the United States this complete and beautiful statue. Amid the interchange of fraternal greetings between the survivors of the Army of the Cumberland and their former foes upon the battlefield, and while the Union General and the people's President awaited burial, the common grief of these magnanimous survivors and mourning citizens found expression in the determination to erect this tribute to American greatness, and thus to-day, in its symmetry and beauty, it presents a sign of animosities forgotten, an emblem of brotherhood redeemed, and a token of a nation restored. Monuments and statues multiply throughout the land, fittingly illustrative of the love and affection of our grateful people and commemorating brave and patriotic sacrifices in war, fame in peaceful pursuits, or honor in public station. But from this day forth there shall stand at our seat of Government this statue of a distinguished citizen, who in his life and services combined all these things and more, which challenge admiration in American character, loving tenderness in every domestic relation, bravery on the field of battle, fame and distinction in our halls of legislation, and the highest honor and dignity in the Chief Magistracy of the Nation. This stately effigy shall not fail to teach every beholder that the source of American greatness is confined to no condition nor dependent alone for its growth and development upon favorable surroundings. The genius of our national life beckons to usefulness and honor those in every sphere and offers the highest preferment to manly ambition and sturdy, honest effort, chastened and consecrated by, patriotic hopes and aspirations. As long as this statue stands let it be proudly remembered that to every American citizen the way is open to fame and station, until he

          Moving up from high to higher,
          Becomes on fortune's crowning slope
          The pillar of a people's hope.
          The centre of a world's desire.

Nor can we forget that it teaches our people a sad and distressing lesson, and the thoughtful citizen who views its fair proportions cannot fall to recall the tragedy of a death which brought grief and mourning to every household in the land. But while American citizenship stands aghast and affrighted that murder and assassination should lurk in the midst of a free people and strike down the head of their Government, a fearless search and the discovery of the origin and hiding place of those hateful and unnatural things should be followed by a solemn resolve to purge forever from our political methods and from the operation of our Government the perversions and misconceptions which gave birth to passionate and bloody thoughts. If from this hour our admiration for the bravery and nobility of American manhood and our faith in the possibilities and opportunities of American citizenship be renewed, if our appreciation of the blessing of a restored union and love for our Government be strengthened, and if our watchfulness against the dangers of a mad chase after partisan spoils be quickened, the dedication of the statue to the people of the United States will not be in vain.

APP NOTE: The Ceremony took place at the location of the Garfield Memorial Statue in Washington DC at the South-West base of Capitol Hill near Maryland Avenue. In his remarks, the President quoted from the poem "In Memoriam A. H. H, Canto 64." by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Grover Cleveland, Remarks at the Dedication of the James A. Garfield Memorial Statue Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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