Longfellow statue

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 1807 – 1882
Location: triangle park at Connecticut Avenue, 18th Street, and M Street, NW
Sculptor: William Couper, New York
Dedication: May 7, 1909, 2:30pm
Cost: $29,000. Congress contributed $4,000 for the pedestal. $25,000 was raised by the Longfellow National Memorial Association

It took twelve years for the Longfellow National Memorial Association to erect a monument to Longfellow who was considered one of America’s greatest poets, and the first in Washington, D.C. to honor an American literary figure. In 1897 the Longfellow National Memorial Association was organized with Chief Justice Fuller as president. Congress gave the site of Connecticut Avenue and M Street/Rhode Island Avenue, for the statue and contributed $4,000 for the pedestal. The remainder of the $25,000 was raised by subscription.

The dedication ceremony was held on May 7, 1909. Members of the diplomatic corps, descendants of Longfellow, and, standing in for President Taft, Attorney General Wickersham. Seats for 700 people were set-up on the Connecticut Avenue side of the park, and spectators filled the streets.

The presentation of the statue was made by Brainard H. Warner, treasurer of the Memorial Association, and the acceptance on behalf of the nation was by Attorney General Wickersham. During the ceremony there was a series of flags surrounding the statue with titles of Longfellow’s poems. The Marine Corps band played and there were addresses on Longfellow’s life, his poetry, and his contribution as a citizen.

The statue was the first full-sized statue of Longfellow. The statue represents Longfellow with a book in hand, and is placed on a block of Bonacord granite brought from Sweden and carved in Scotland.

Bishop Mackay-Smith, chairman of the executive committee of the memorial association, described the creation of the committee and discussed Longfellow’s influence, saying, that ‘his works are his lasting monument, and his memory is in the keeping of those whom his song has charmed and blessed.’

Chief Justice Fuller, of the United State Supreme Court, and then president of the Memorial Association, presided over the unveiling ceremony.

To capture some of the feelings expressed I have shared a quote from Bishop Mackay-Smith’s address:

“The gratitude of many of England’s best and noblest has placed his image among her own honored dead in the shadowed seclusion of Westminster’s poets’ corner. Now, and we trust forever, here in the Capital of the country which he loved, and of which he wrote so magnificently in that picture of ‘Ship and State,’ which shall never die, the beautiful face and the kindly eye shall live, let us hope forever; but his works are his lasting monument, and his memory is in the keeping of those whom his song has charmed and blessed.”

At the time, one of his most-beloved poems was Sail On, O Ship of State, which includes the lines:

Thou, too, sail on, oh, ship of state;
Sail on, oh, Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future eyars,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

Today, however, Longfellow is probably best be remembered for Paul Revere’s Ride, which begins:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

In 1940 the 133rd anniversary of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was observed with a ceremony at the statue’s triangle park. In 1967 the National Park Service redesigned the park to include sidewalks, a water foutain, and benches. In 1977 Metro initiated it’s Poetry and Art program – a display in Metro buses of 10,000 colored posters each showing illustrated verse – in front of the Longfellow statue.


Statue Unveiling May 7, The Washington Post, April 10, 1909

Speaks in Bronze, The Washington Post, May 8, 1909

New York City, The Washington Post, October 6, 1907

Art of Peace

There are four statues at the end of Rock Creek Park (where the Parkway ends at Lincoln Memorial Circle). This statue is called The Art of Peace. Given to the United States by Italy in 1950, the statue depicts a warrior guided home by the muses of Art and Music.

Count Rochambeau

Count Jean Baptiste Rochambeau (b. Vendome, France; 1725–1807)
Location: Southwest corner of President’s Park
Sculptor: M. Ferdinand Hamar, Vendome, France
Architect: L. Parent
Unveiling: May 24, 1902 at 11am
Cost: $42,500

The Rochambeau statue project began around 1901 after Congress passed a bill for $7,500 for the purpose of purchasing a statue, and in 1902 Congress appropriated another $15,000 for the foundation, pedestal, transportation and other expenses for the Rochambeau statue. In all Congress passed 4 appropriations for the statue. Two totaling $22,500 for the statue and pedestal and foundation, and two more appropriations for the reception of the guests, and the entertainment of the French mission totaling $20,000. France contributed $7,500.

In 1900 a statue of Rochambeau was unveiled in Vendome, France, and a statue of George Washington was unveiled in Paris. At that time is was suggested that a statue of Rochambeau should be placed in Washington, D.C., and M. Jules Boeufve, chancellor at the French Embassy, was the initiator of the idea of placing a statue of Rochambeau in the nation’s capital.

About the statue

It is a replica of the statue sculpted by Ferdinand Hamar which sits in Vendome, France. Rochambeau is depicted in his general’s uniform during the Battle of Yorktown. His right arm is raised and he is pointing, and in his left hand he holds a map and plan.

At the front of the statue is the figure of Liberty stepping out of a boat. She is holding the entwined flags of the United States and France. In her other hand she is holding a sword that is outstretched and protecting an eagle that represents a young and defiant America.

On the pedestal are thirteen stars representing the thirteen original colonies, under which is simply the name Rochambeau. On one side is the Rochambeau family coat-of-arms – three stars, on the other side is the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy. On the fourth side is a shield with stars of the American Union.

On the base appears the name of the sculptor, the architect, and a quote from George Washington from a February 1, 1784 letter —

We have been contemporaries and fellow-laborers in the cause of liberty, and we have lived together as brothers should do, in harmonious friendship.

The Dedication Ceremony

A huge contingent from France came over for the unveiling on May 24, supposedly the anniversary of Count de Rochambeau’s entrance into the French army.

The large delegation included the Count Rene de Rochambeau and Count Paul de Lafayette.  Also in the French delegation was Gen. Brugere, commander-in-chief of the French army, vice president of the superior council of war, and the inspector general — they sailed to America on the battleship Gaulois.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge dedicated the statue.  The dedication ceremony was attended by several thousand people who sat in stands on three sides of the statue (the south, east, and west).  President Theodore Roosevelt was at the ceremony as were members of Congress, the French mission, and members of the foreign legations.


District Bills Reported, The Washington Post, Jan 10, 1902, pg. 12

Mission of High Rank, The Washington Post, Apr 26, 1902, pg 1

Expenses of Rochambeau Dedication, The Washington Post, May 6, 1902, pg. 4

Beautiful work of art, The Washington Post, May 24, 1902, pg 5