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Source: The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia
Source type: book
Document type: essay
Document title: “The McKinley Monument”
Author(s): anonymous [essay]; anonymous [book]
Publisher: McKinley Memorial Association
Place of publication: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Year of publication: 1909
Pagination: 3-20 (excerpt below includes only pages 3-4, 4-5, 5-8, and 12)

“The McKinley Monument.” The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: McKinley Memorial Association, 1909: pp. 3-20.
excerpt of essay
McKinley memorialization (Philadelphia, PA); McKinley memorial (Philadelphia, PA).
Named persons
Samuel H. Ashbridge; Karl Bitter; Theophilus P. Chandler, Jr.; John A. Clark; John H. Converse; Charles E. Dana; Frank Miles Day; James Elverson; Isidore Konti; Charles Albert Lopez; William McKinley; Leslie W. Miller; Albert R. Ross [middle initial wrong below]; George C. Thomas; J. Q. A. Ward; E. Burgess Warren.
The following excerpt comprises four nonconsecutive portions of this essay (pp. 3-4, pp. 4-5, pp. 5-8, and p. 12). Omission of text within the excerpt is denoted with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).

From title page: The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia: History of the Movement, and Account of the Dedication Exercises; Including the Oration by the Hon. James M. Beck.


The McKinley Monument [excerpt]

     WILLIAM McKINLEY, JR., Twenty-fifth President of the United States, died from a pistol shot by an assassin, September 14, 1901. The news was received in Philadelphia with unusual sorrow, for Mr. McKinley had frequently visited the city where he had many warm freinds [sic], and had, as the champion of the political doctrine with which this city has always been identified, made many public addresses.
     Immediately a number of more or less tentative steps were taken to erect some memorial in the city commensurate with the worth and dignity of the man and the office which he held. The Philadelphia Inquirer started a subscription for the purpose on the seventeenth, and in a short time collected more than $12,000, which was turned over to a General Committee which included all efforts at a memorial.
     This Committee was formed at the City Hall in response to invitations, sent out by Mayor Samuel H. Ashbridge, to attend a meeting on October 17th, in the general reception room of his office. A large number of prominent citizens were present. Mr. John H. Converse was elected chairman and subsequently chairman of the McKinley [3][4] Memorial Association which was then and there formed, with the following vice-presidents:



     An Executive Committee consisting of the officers and the chairmen of the working committees was appointed and in addition to the secretaries to these various committees were empowered to meet with the Executive Committee.
     Mr. Leslie W. Miller was elected secretary of the General and Executive Committees and Mr. George C. Thomas, treasurer. The subscriptions were deposited with Drexel & Company, which allowed a liberal interest, sufficient in the end to pay the expenses of the Committee, [4][5] so that all of the actual money contributed was expended for the monument.


     These committees went to work at once and meetings of the Executive Committee were held weekly in the Mayor’s office. The total contributions were in excess of $32,000 and the contributors were numbered by thousands, with sums running all the way from a cent to a thousand dollars. The selection of a site was one of a good deal of complexity and it was finally determined to ask permission of Councils to place the Memorial in its present location on [5][6] the south front of the City Hall with the expectation of finally placing it along the Parkway when completed. Councils passed an ordinance to this effect.
     The selection of a design proved the most tedious and complicated matter that came before the Committee. Several plans of procedure which were under contemplation were blocked by various considerations of professional etiquette and regulations.
     Eventually a public competition was held, and thirty-eight models were forwarded and placed on exhibition in the Export Exposition Building in West Philadelphia.
     A jury of award selected from without the membership of the Committee was chosen, with power to make five selections of the best models, which were to be awarded $500 each. This jury was composed of J. Q. A. Ward, the dean of American sculptors, chairman; Charles E. Dana, Theophilus P. Chandler, Karl Bitter and Frank Miles Day, all architects, artists or sculptors of the highest reputation.
     They reported to the General Committee, which accepted their verdict, and the first award was made to Charles Albert Lopez, sculptor, and Albert H. Ross, architect, who bid together. The design was altered subsequently under the direction of the Committee on Design, acting under instructions of the General Committee. Mr. Lopez died before completing his work of modeling the sculpture and the work was admirably carried out by a successor, Mr. Isidore Konti, named by his executors and approved by the Committee on Design. [6][7]
     Although about five years elapsed between the awarding of the contract and the completion of the statue, and its dedication June 6, 1908, this is considered rapid work under the circumstances. Similar work has elsewhere taken ten or fifteen years.
     The sculptor was obliged to proceed carefully with his work, and he succeeded, in the opinion of the Committee, in creating a monument which is one of the most artistic structures of the kind in the country. It is always more or less difficult to make of a portrait statue a satisfactory public monument. The frock coat of the American statesman seldom lends itself to picturesque treatment, but it is felt that in this instance the subject has been handled with rare discrimination. The statue of the dead President has been approved by many of his warmest friends. It shows him in characteristic attitude when making a public address, and literally millions have heard him speak. The pose is dignified and the expression on the face portrays that singular combination of dignity, serenity and forcefulness which characterized McKinley the statesman.
     Below the statue sits a symbolic figure of Wisdom instructing Youth, a group which is most effective in and of itself and which has been happily combined with the statue above to make an effective and dignified monument. It takes away the stiffness of the single figure, adds womanly beauty and childish innocence and results in a composition which is singularly pleasing to the untutored as well as to the learned student of art.
     The statue will doubtless remain in its present position [7][8] for some years. Eventually it is hoped to place it along the line of the Parkway when possibly the present monument will be erected on a higher base, for which purpose there is a small sum remaining in the treasury of the Committee.
     The dedication of the monument took place Saturday afternoon, June 6, 1908. A portion of the exercises were held in front of the monument and the remainder in the Academy of Music.
     Before the formal exercises a luncheon was tendered the General Committee and distinguished guests in the banquet hall of the Union League at noon. President John H. Converse and Secretary Leslie W. Miller acted as hosts. The hall was beautifully decorated for the occasion and each guest wore a pink carnation, President McKinley’s favorite flower.


     Immediately after luncheon, the Committee and guests marched to the temporary platform erected east of the monument where the opening exercises were held.
     In the plaza on the south front of the City Hall were stationed the military organizations and many thousands of spectators, the latter extending south on Broad Street to the Academy of Music.



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