McClellan Statue

General George Brinton McClellan (December 3, 1826 – October 29, 1885)
Location: Connecticut Avenue, NW, at California Street and Columbia Road
Sculptor: Frederick MacMonnies, New York
Unveiling: Thursday, May 2, 1907
Cost: $60,000

In 1893 the city of Philadelphia unveiled a statue of McClellan sculpted by H. J. Ellicott of Washington, D.C. A couple of years later, in 1901, a commission was formed and charged with erecting a statue for McClellan in the Nation’s Capital. General Lucius Henry Warren was the first to suggest a statue to Gen. McClellan and brought the idea to the Society of the Army of the Potomac. Warren, subsequently, was a member of the committee from inception to the unveiling.

The commission opened a competition for U.S. citizens for an equestrian statue of Gen. George Brinton McClellan. The cost of the statue and pedestal was not to exceed $60,000 including incidentals.

In 1902 the competition was narrowed to four people – three from New York City, and one sculptor from Rome Italy. These four competitors were asked to create larger models, and in 1903 those subsequent models were all rejected. The commission then unanimously chose Frederick MacMonnies, a sculptor from New York City who had not been part of the original competition, to design the statue.

The original suggestion for placement of the statue was the lawn south of the State Department, which, in 1903, was located at 17th and Pennsylvania in what is now called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (Old Executive Office Building). In 1906, when the commission first announced the projected unveiling date, the location was set for the triangle park at Connecticut, 18th Street and N Street, N.W. – the current location of the Dr. John Witherspoon statue.

Finally in 1906, Secretary Taft, then president of the McClellan statue committee, moved the location of the McClellan statue to the triangle intersection at Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue in front of the Highlands – now the Hilton – which he thought to be more “satisfactory and imposing” than the park at the corner of Connecticut and 18th.

In September there was  fire that destroyed the polishing works of the contractor who was manufacturing the pedestal for the statue, and therefore the unveiling date of October 18, 1906, had to be postponed. Finally in late December 1906 the commission announced that the unveiling would take place in 1907. 

The statue was unveiled on Thursday, May 2, 1907. President Theodore Roosevelt presided over the ceremony and gave a lengthy talk.

The dedication ceremonies were attended by the members of the Society of the Army of the Potomac who met in Washington to hold there 37th annual reunion and to attend the unveiling of the statue. Also in attendance were members of the societies of the Tennessee, Cumberland and Ohio.


Model for the McClellan Statue, The Washington Post, June 9, 1892
McClellan Statue Competition, The Washington Post, May 25, 1901
McClellan Statue Plans, The Washington Post, November 29, 1904

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.