The McKinley Monument [excerpt]
McK , J .,
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  Memorial Association
which was then and there formed, with the following vice-presidents:
A. C ,
M . L
W. M ,
M . E. B
M . J
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,  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 
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
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.
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
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
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  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
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.