O more beautiful day than Saturday, May the twelfth, 1894, could have been selected for the unveiling ceremonial of Jerónimo Suñol's bronze statue of Christopher Colombus, in the Central Park, New York. The site occupied by this latest addition to the art treasures of the American metropolis is perhaps the finest in the Park, standing, as it does, at the south end of the broad central avenue known as the Mall, an directly opposite the noble statue of Shakespeare by J.Q. A. Ward. These "two great heirs of fame" of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries confront each other, and are appropriate companions. The statues are of heroic size, standing on pedestals somewhat similar in design, but differing in the character of the granite used, the Columbus pedestal being designed by Napoleon Le Brun, of New York. A platform facing the statue had been erected for the use of the speakers and the Committee of Arrangements, and was tastefully draped with flags, while two thousand seats had been provided and reserved for the subscribers to the statue, members of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and other guests, all of whom were furnished with cards similar to the one that appears on another page of this volume.
Previous to the presentation of the statue, there was a formal breakfast given at their residence, No. 15 East Seventy-fourth street, which was elaborately decorated with American, Spanish and Italian flags, by General and Mrs. Wilson to their guests from Washington, D.C. consisting of Vice-President and Mrs. Stevenson, the Italian Ambassador and Baroness de Fava, and Señor Don Emilio de Muruaga, the Spanish Minister. Others invited to meet them were Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Bishop Potter, Admiral Gherardi, U.S.N., General Howard, U.S.A., Mr. Depew, A. Loudou Snowden of Pennsylvania, late Minister to Spain, who aided General Wilson when in that country in attending to details connected with the statue, Mr. John V. L. Pruyn, and the members of the Committee than in the city, viz.: Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt, Mr. and Mrs. Marquand, Mr. and Mrs. Grace, President and Mrs. James, and Mr. and Mrs. James J. Goodwin. At 2:45 the party entered carriages and were escorted to the Park by a detachment of twelve mounted Park police. The first carriage was occupied by Vice-President Stevenson, General Wilson, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, and the Hon. Chaucey M. Depew. In the second were the Italian Ambassador, Baron de Fava, the Bishop of New York, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. In the third were ex-Mayor and Mrs. Grace, and Mrs. Stevenson. In the fourth rode the Baroness de Fava, Mrs. Marquand, and General Howard. In the fifth, Mrs. Grant Wilson, Miss Wilson, and Admiral Gherardi. In the sixth were Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, and Hon. Thomas L. James. In the seventh, Consul-General Baldasano, Col. A. Loudon Snowden and Mr. Pruyn.
Five minutes before three o'clock, the assemblage of from eight to ten thousand, incluiding many of the most prominent ladies and gentlemen of New York, were surprised by the arrival of the cortège that was to conduct the ceremonial. Leaving their carriages on the side of the east drive, the party were escorted by Mr. Philip Rhinelander, Mr. William G. Verplanck, and several other ushers (1) to the grand stand, the Chairman and Vice-President Stevenson leading the way. Others who occupied seats on the platform were: Admiral Benham, U.S.N., Mayor Gilroy, the President of the Board of Park Commissioners, and the officers of the Spanish ship of war Nautilus, then in New York Harbor.
The following programme was distributed to the guests on the platform and to the audience generally.
Promptly at three o'clock, General Wilson called the meeting to order, and after briefly congratulating all present upon the auspicious afternoon, and upon the magnificent audience assembled in the American metropolis, to do honor to the memory of the illustrious Discoverer of the New World, he introduced Dr. Henry C. Potter, Bishop of New York, who delivered a lengthy invocation, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, which many present joined in repeating.
The Chairman then said:
"More than a decade has passed since an American, strolling through the Prado of Madrid, came unexpectedly upon a superb marble statue of the "world-seeking Genoese" and he then and there resolved to have a bronze statue of Columbus, from the same skilful and cunning hand, set up in the Central Park. A few days later, when the traveller was a guest in the magnificent Madrid Palace, so much admired by the great Napoleon, the American mentioned his purpose to the ruler of the country, who said: "Columbus should ever be an enduring bond between Spain and the United States" and promised to come to New York during the summer of 1892 with an imposing and powerful Spanish squadron and unveil the statue.
"Alas, the young King has for several years slept with many generations of his royal ancestors in the vast and gloomy burial-place known as the Monastery of the Escorial. During the past year, as many present will remember, the Duke of Veragua, with his family, visited the United States as the nation's guest. While in this country, the Duke accepted our committee's invitation to unveil the statue of his illustrious ancestor, but a mishap to the steamship delayed its arrival until too late a day for the Duke to perform the duty before returning to Spain, but not too late for him to see it and to express his unqualified admiration for the artistic merits of Suñol's statue, which is an original work cast from a new and improved model of the Madrid counterfeit presentment of the illustrious discoverer.
"The pleasant duty which neither the Spanish Monarch nor the Spanish Duke had the privilege of performing, now devolves upon our esteemed fellow-citizen, the Hon. Adlai E. Stevenson, of Illinois, Vice-President of the United States. I have the pleasure of presenting Mr. Stevenson, who will now unveil the statue and present it, on behalf of the subscribers, to the City of New York."
Vice-President Stevenson's remarks were as follows:
"No words of mine can add to the interest or the dignity of this great occasion. This hour will be live in history. From eloquent lips have fallen burning words, which will tell to coming ages, of the homage paid here, and now, to the memory of the discoverer of a continent. Central Park - beautiful and magnificent - is a fit place for the statue of Columbus. It is well that to the City of New York - the metropolis of this continent - should have fallen the grateful task of portraying to the millions of all the coming ages the features of the man who, despite obstacle and danger, marked out the path way to the New World. The name and fame of Columbus belong exclusively to no age or country. They are the enduring heritage of all people. Your President has truly said: "In all the transactions of history there is no act which for vastness and performance can be compared to the discovery of the continent of America" (2). In the modest words of the great navigator, he "only opened the gates", and lo! there came in the builders of a new and mighty nation.
"It is said that in Venice there is sacredly preserved a letter written by Columbus few hours before he sailed form Palos. With reverent expression of trust in God - humbly, but with unfaltering faith - he spoke of his "purposed voyage to that famous land". He builded wiser that he knew. His dream, while a suppliant on the antechamber of kings and while keeping lonely vigil upon the deep, was the discovery o a new pathway to the Indies. Yet who can doubt that to his prophetic soul was then foreshadowed something of that famous land with the warp and woof of whose history, tradition and song his name and fame are linked for all time. Was it Mr. Winthrop who said of Columbus and his compeers, "They were the pioneers in the march to independence, the precursors in the only progress of freedom which was to have no backward step".
"Is it too much to say of this man that among the world's benefactors a greater than he hath not appeared! What page in all history tells of deeds so fraught with blessings to the generations of men as the discovery of America! Columbus added a continent to the map of the world. I will not detain you longer. Your eyes will now behold this splendid work of art. It is well that its approaches are firm and broad, for along this pathway, with the rolling centuries, will come as pilgrims to a shrine the myriads of all lands to behold this bronze statue of Colombus - this enduring and beautiful monument to the gratitude of a great city of a great nation."
When the enthusiastic cheering which greeted the Vice-President's remarks and the first view of the magnificent statue, which had been shrouded in an immense American flag, had subsided, the Chairman presented the Mayor of the city, who said: "On behalf of the City of New York, I accept with pleasure and gratitude the trust just reposed in me. It is proper that the deeds of heroes should be remembered, and among heroes Christopher Colombus stands high. He opened a new continent, in which a sturdy race has grown up and is spreading the seeds of liberty and civilization over the face of the globe".
General Wilson then introduced Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, a member of the Committee of Arrangements, who read the following letters from the Duke of Veragua and the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, whose eighty-fifth birthday, the Chairman announced, occurs this very day. Mr. Vanderbilt also read a letter from the Governor of the State, expressing his regret that important engagements prevented his being present.
Madrid, 15 April, 1894.
My dear General: On the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of Colombus, I beg you to express my greetings to the City of New York and to all American citizens who are assembled to pay a new tribute of respect to the memory of my illustrious ancestor. I regret that I am unable to assist personally in the ceremonial, but I wish to state at this moment my gratefulness to America, which the great distance that separates me from your wonderful country cannot make me forget.
You have just erected a work of art of the sculptor Suñol, who has, better than any other of his profession, reproduced in marble and bronze the inspired features of the man whose genius discovered a continent greater than the rest of the then known world. Spain prides herself on artists like Suñol. Allow me to thank you, both as a Spaniard and as a descendant of Columbus. Also I beg, dear General, to congratulate you upon the interest that you have taken in the matter, which has so greatly contribute to its success.
The Duchess sends her kindest regards. Believe me, sincerely your friend,
GENERAL GRANT WILSON.
- 90 Malborough Street
- boston, Mass., 2 May, 1894
Gen. Jas. GRANT WILSON, Chairman
My dear Sir: Let me offer, without further delay, my best thanks to the Committee of Arrangements and to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for their obliging invitation to the interesting ceremonial of the 12th inst. It would afford me sincere pleasure to witness the unveiling of the statue of Columbus in your beautiful Central Park by the Vice-President of the United States. But age and infirmities constrain me to deny myself to such occasions, and I can only return my grateful acknowledgment of so kind an invitation. Believe me, my dear General,
Yours very truly, ROBERT C. WINTHROP
BARON DE FAVA, the Italian Ambassador, was then introduced and said:
"It has been my good fortune to follow the celebration of Columbus, from its beginning to this day. I have been present at Genoa, New York and Chicago. I have seen two beautiful corks of art rise in this city in honor of Columbus. One has been erected by the Italian residents of New York, and is the work of an eminent artist. This statue, shows plainly that the love of art stands as high in America as the love of Columbus. Now, as on former occasions, what impresses me deeply is the current of sympathy, the bond of friendship, the memory of this immortal man has created between the Old and the New World. They have said to each other on this solemn occasion: "We must be friends forever; our history, our glorious past, and our future prosperity command it".
"The Mariner's Dream", a poem written for the occasion by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, a native of New York, as General Wilson announced in introducing her, then followed:
WERE shall we find the golden key that opes to peace and liberty! The earth is full of grievous wars, The soldier's tread her beauty mars, The captive's chains are fast and locked, The poor man by the rich man mocked. The promise of the Christ we hear, But who shall bring fulfilment near!
A dream came to a sailor bold, A happy dream of good untold; And a little bird sang: "Follow me Westwar, over he unknown sea. A star shall lead thy chosen band, And bring thy slender craft to land. Beyond the waters thou shalt find Regions of splendor unconfined, Where giant rivers fruitful flow, Where birds of tropic plumage glow, Where the old treasures of thy race Shall grow and multiply apace. And ancient Rule renew its health In a new glorious commonwealth." * * * * *
The dreamer waking, bowed his head, And on the wondrous errand sped. With pleading rare he wrung the gold From hauds reluctant to unfold, And loosing from old Europe's shore Sailed westward, westward evermore.
"I hear a message in the breeze, Whispered from forests of strange trees, From depths of greenery unexplored, Where sounded ne'er the Christian word. I may not feed on light-earned bread, Nor on soft pillow rest my head, For still my wondering thoughts obey The mystic voice that calls away.
"Ev'n when I state the hearth beside With my child's mother, gentle-eyed, Listening the urchin's prattle sweet, Guiding with love his tiny feet, His steps uncertain seemed to show The distant way that mine should go, The pilgrimage appointed me, In some compelling prophecy.
"Oh! If, the weltering waters o'er, My bark might reach that unknown shore, From that deep forest pluck its fruit, Waken the echoes full und mute, And open to the tropic's breath The blazoned banner of our faith!
"What though the way be long to find Traced dimly in my laboring mind; Though wild impatience seize my crew, Distrustful of the venture new. Should all mankind against me turn, The haven grained, my wage should earn. The yet undowered Future claim Earth's noblest conquest in my name!
"Oh, man of vision, sorely vexed! Denied, deserted, and perplexed; Shamed by rebuke from royal lips, And Fame and Fortune's sad eclipse, Thy furrow traced across the sea The unseen path of destiny. In thy firm hand the steadfast helm Steered onward to the magic realm. And now from out the centuries' maze Millions of voices sing thy praise, And hail those conquering footsteps trod, Inspired of angels, led by God. * * * * *
Here gather we in Gotham town, Of all our western world the crown, While ladies fair and gallants gay Unite to celebrate the day. But while the Paean has its course, Let Faith re-consecrate this form, Adventured once 'gainst sea and storm.
For 't was this hand that held the key, Unlocking Peace and Liberty. When all we have and all we are Hung on the guidance of a star, And on the answer dimly guessed In one resolved, responsive breast.
At the conclusion of the reading of Mrs. Howe's poem, which was haighly applauded, the announcement was made by the Chairman, that Señor Don Muruaga, the Spanish Minister, who had come from Washington to attend the ceremonial, was by a sudden attack of illness confined to his rooms at the Plaza Hotel, and was therefore unfortunately prevented from being present. In his absence, he was represented by the Consul-General of Spain, Señor Arturo Baldasano, who read the brief address prepared by the Spanish Minister, which was as follows:
"It becomes the representative of Spain, the country which was the prime promoter of the discovery of America, to address on this occasion the people of this great metropolis and of the United States in a spirit of friendship and goodwill. It is moreover particularly gratifying to the Spanish Government to behold the Vice-President of the United States, General Grant Wilson, organizer of this successful enterprise, and Mr. Chauncey M. Depew, the genial and ppopular orator of New York, raising their eloquent voices to honor the memory of Columbus. The mind hesitates, and feels bewildered, considering the possibilities that might have arisen in the old European countries, struggling with the unknown and as yet uncontrollable problems of labor and capital, over-population and over-production, had this vast continent not been thrown wide open to the partizans of free thought and free government. Let this well-deserved statue of Columbus remind future generations that every man, however exalted his position may be, must contribute with his share of labor and worry to the public welfare."
Mr. DEPEW, the orator of the day, was then presented by General Wilson, and delivered the following admirable address, which was listened to with the greatest attention, and was very generally accepted as among the most successful of Mr. Depew's many oratorical efforts of the past twenty years.
MR. DEPEW'S SPEECH
NEW YORK can add nothing to the glory of Columbus, but she may enforce the lesson of this life and discovery. The fire kindled by him on a little island of Western Hemisphere, amid the darkness of the fifteenth century, has become the flame which illumines the nineteenth with light and liberty. Seed-time and harvest have their soil and seasons with humanity as with the earth. In all ages and among all races, the winds and the waves have borne the kernels of truth, and they have been lost on the rocks and in the waters. There were patriots before Runymede, but their blood fertilized that field for Magna Charta. Patriots had labored and died in vain before the Declaration of Independence in 1776. German Federation had been a Teutonic dream for two thousand years before Bismarck. Italian unity was the hope of Italy for centuries before Garibaldi, Mazzini, and Cavour. The French Republic was the effort and aspiration of the best thinkers and boldest actors of France for a hundred years before Thiers and Gambetta. The Viking sailed along the coast of North America, and planted colonies upon its shores five hundred years before Columbus. But the time was not ripe, and the people of Europe were not prepared for America and its opportunities.
The brilliant and liberal reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent at Florence, which closed as Columbus sailed from Palos, had stimulated commerce, art, and learning. It had both awakened and opened the mind in every country on the continent. The literary treasures of the great library of the Vatican were placed at the disposal of scholars, and the revival of learning was a marked feature of the period. The expulsion of the Moslems from Spain had relieved Europe of the strain of warring creeds. Intense intellectual activity was breaking the bonds of the Middle Ages and preparing the way for independent thought and discovery. The statesmanship and the guile of Louis XI in France, and the concentration of power in Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain, had broken down feudalism and centralized authority. The road from the dismantled castles of the Barons to the royal palace, and from the royal palace to the representative assembly of the people, became the highway of liberty. These wonderful and revolutionary events were, for a time, the blessings only of the favored few, the great and the learned.
[At this point in his oration, the speaker saw that something was amusing his audience. The sun had by this time gotten well down in the west, and shone full in Mr. Depew's face. General Howard stood by his side and tried to shield him with and umbrella, but could not do it without hiding Mr. Depew from the people. General Howard gave it up amid the laughter of the crowd, and General Wilson took the umbrella, but met with no better success. Señor Baldasano then tried his had, and managed to throw a little shadow on Mr. Depew's left ear and a corner of his forehead. The orator of the day laughed as heartily as any of his auditors during the performance of this little comedy, and when quiet was restored said:
"Ladies and Gentlemen: This is not the first time an attempt has been made to eclipse me. That famous soldier, General Howard, has tried it and was forced to give up; General Wilson, who brought this statue over under his arm, and who never failed in anything that he has undertaken heretofore, could n't do it, but now," turning and bowing to Señor Baldasano, "I stand under the shadow of Spain."]
It was reserved not for kings or nobles or the mighty of earth to utilize the past and present for the uplifting of the masses of mankind. We may say reverently, As Christianity came for us through the son of a carpenter, so the invention which opened the way for Christianizing the world was wrought out by a humble artisan of Mayence. The significance of types and the prophecy of their use were made clear in the selection of the Bible as their first work. The printing-press of Gutenberg and the invention of paper, which had preceded it only a few years, were the levers and the levelers of the future. By bringing education within the reach of all, they elevated the people to the understanding and practice of liberty; and equal opportunity and rights battered down privilege and caste.
Incidents, which to the pious are special providences, and to others trifling accidentes, have often altered the course of history. The marriage of Isabella with Ferdinand enabled a liberal and generous mind to influence a bigoted and miserly one for the venture, certainly rash, perhaps blasphemous, into the unknown West, and made possible the voyage of Columbus. A hungry boy stopped his proud and mendicant father at the door of the Convent of La Rábida, to meet there in the person of the Prior, the enlightened and learned Father Juan Pérez, the Confessor of the Queen, the only man living who had both the breadth and independence to understand and believe in the plans of the great navigator and also the confidence of her Majesty. It was a flight of birds which changed the course of the Santa María and her consorts,, and gave South America to Spain and Portugal, and the dominant power on the northern continent to the Saxon race. Thus, the United States, as distinguished from the Spanish Republics and the Portuguese Empire and subsequent Republic of Brazil, is apparently an accident of an accident. It is really the result of climate and conditions suited to the development of that resistless strain in the blood which circles the globe with its conquests, and, blended with Teuton and Celt, with Latin and Scandinavian, increases the power and the promise of our country.
Ferdinand was a typical representative of his times. We must judge the men of every period by their standards, not ours. Only fools are offended at criticisms of the State or Church of the dark ages, and only the ignorant claim that either was so abreast with the thought or education of to-day that their substitution for present conditions would receive now either welcome or hospitality. The King believed the torture chamber better than courts of justice. He knew of no law which was superior to his autocratic will. He was frugal to meanness and devoid of generosity or integrity. He laughed at Columbus when the great navigator was leading for the ships to find for him an empire, and he cheated the dying hero of the rewords he promised and the honors he had pledged when the empire was won. To Isabella had been wafted across space a breath of the purer air of the nineteenth century. When we consider what she was, in spite of the almost insufferable barriers of her environment, a sweet and mighty spirit seems to have escaped from the bondage of the age, and in the beautiful presence of the Queen inspired the soul of a saint and prophetess. She gave her jewels for the fleet, and with undimmed faith waited for the return, which ended in triumphal processions and royal greetings. She struck the shackles from the Indian slaves which were brought her as part of the booty of the New World, and issued stern decrees against cruelty and lust; but they were nullified by her untimely death, and myriads of innocent men, women, and children were consigned to nameless horrors and final extermination. This favored land recognizes its obligations to its benefactress in grating to woman privileges and opportunities unknown in other countries. It gives to her independence and control in her property. It opens for her the academy and the university, and it yields to her a precedence and power, at home and in society, which puts within her grasp the substance of rights which, in the boasted ages of chivalry, were only a flowery and pretentious sham.
Columbus was of that rare type of genius which belongs to no age, and rises aboe the errors, or superstitions, or ignorance of his period. While most of the learned, and all the unlearned, believed the earth to be flat, he boldly proclaimed its sphericity; while the same overwhelming majority feared the monsters of the deep, who were waiting beyond the western horizon to devour the daring and the sacrilegious mariners and destroy their ships, he saw on the other side of the unknown sea limitless empire for his sovereigns, and myriads of souls for the saving offices of his Church. He had sailed to the farthest limits of the discoveries of the times. He had investigated with unprejudiced and unclouded mind the evidences cast up from the ocean of other lands and strange peoples. As sailor, privateer, and pirate, he had experienced the dangers of hostile elements and armed enemies. As geographer and mapmaker, he had absorbed all the teachings of the past, and boldly placed upon his maps the new continent, with its untold wealth of gold and precious stones, and its unequaled opportunities for the power and greatness of the throne, which would grant him the facilities of his voyage. The conquest of Granada and the expulsion of the Moors from Spain seemed to the statesmen of Europe an event of transcendent importance, but to this superb enthusiast it was a local affair which delayed the plans for the capture of a continent.
The spiritual and temporal power, the pomp and pageantry of Castile and Aragon, formed an array unequaled in the brilliancy of its King and Queen, its prelates and statesmen, its philosophers and soldiers, and in the splendor of their equipment, to receive from Boabdil the keys of his capital, and the capitulation of his kingdom. The enthusiasm of the hour lifted the Spanish hosts to heavenly ecstasy, all save one. This proud pauper, the royal purple of his imagination giving dignity to his rags and majesty to his mien, looked coldly upon the splendid spectacle. To the man who had waited for years, because he would accept no other terms whit his fleet than the Admiralty of the Ocean, the Viceroyalty of the Indies, and one tenth the revenues of the Western Hemisphere, the marital field before him was only a skirmish on the battle-line of the universe.
The faults of Columbus were the results of the civilization and conditions of his times, from which no man es great enough to wholly escape; but his faith was his own. After the lapse of four hundred years it is as impressive to us as it was potent with his contemporaries. It gave immortality to the humble Convent of La Rábida and its noble prior. It clarified the atmosphere and dispelled the darkness about Isabella, so that she could grasp the great truth. It calmed the fears and quelled the mutiny of the crew, and found its reward in the glimmering light on San Salvador, which for the sailors meant land at last; and for the Admiral the New World of which he had dreamed, for which he had suffered, and now, after discouragements and perils innumerable, had discovered.
In 1492 was issued the cruel edict which confiscated the property of hundreds and thousands of Jews and then expelled them from Spain. In the same year, the same sovereigns equipped the fleet of Columbus for its immortal voyage. The unhappy and unfortunate Hebrews were landed upon the shores of Asia and Africa, but nowhere did they receive either welcome or hospitality. The little ships of Columbus as they sailed out of the harbor of Palos passed the great war-vessels which were carrying these captive Israelites from their homes. The royal frigates were bearing them to fresh horrors and persecutions, but the weak and deckless caravels of the discoverer were, unknown to sovereign or servant, guided by Divine Providence to the land where all creeds and all races should dwell in the harmony of equal rights, and unite in contributing to the power and glory of a government of organized liberty.
The inspiring dream of Columbus was to utilize the treasures of the New World for the redemption from the infidel of the holy sepulcher at Jerusalem. He believed that by virtue of his name, Christopher, he was carrying Christ across the sea to the heathen. The lust for gold made his followers profane the name of the Prince of Peace with such outrages and cruelties, such torturings and massacres of the confiding aborigines, as caused even the fifteenth century to shudder. He died, with his dream of the rescue of the tombs of the Saviour still a vision. He little knew, as he lay helpless amidst the ruin of this hopes, that though he had lost an empty grave, he had found a perpetual asylum for conscience. He could not foresee that, while in their savage greed those with him and those who came after gave to the Indians not the light of truth, but consigned them to the flames, and brought to them not the gospel of love, but fell upon them with sword and spear, yet the country he discovered would be the bulwark and hope of the Church.
The Pilgrim Fathers fled from persecution in England to religious liberty in Massachusetts. The Highlanders who fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart found refuge in North Carolina. The Quakers to be free from their tormentors sailed to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and they received there with open arms the Germans driven from the Palatinate by Louis the Fourteen. The Huguenots escaping from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes built happy homes on the Hudson and under the shelter of the groves of South Carolina. Ogelthorpe led the Teutons seeking an opportunity to worship God according to their lights form Salzburg to Georgia. Irishmen, saved from the merciless conquests of Cromwell, scattered all over the land to consecrate their altars and enjoy in safety their religion. Dutch Protestants came to New York, Swedish Protestants to Delaware, English Catholics to Maryland, and the English Church Cavaliers to Virginia. The best contribution of Columbus to future generations was a continent for the cultivation of civil and religious liberty. A State built upon the individual, and not upon classes or creeds, is the source and strength of American freedom.
It was the supreme good fortune of the United States that for its first settlers the conditions of existence were labor, temperance, and thrift. The hostile savages, the rigors of the climate, the virgin forests, and the resisting soil, demanded the indomitable energy and dauntless courage which fashion heroes and patriots. Had there been gold-mines in New England, New York, and Virginia, to excite the cupidity of kings and tempt the adventurers of Europe, and to demoralize the inhabitants of the colonies and take them from their homes and their churches to the feverish excitement of mining-camps, there would have been little permanent settlement or public sentiment. The farms on the bleak hillsides of Connecticut and Massachusetts, in the Mohawk Valley, along the Delaware and on the James, were fountains of national virtue and springs of free thought and free speech. It was the training and experience of necessity which opened the avenues of opportunity for the people of North America. It enabled the "embattled farmer" at Concord and Lexington to face the veterans of European battle-fields. It nerved the members of the Continental Congress to brave the terrors of treason, and confiscation, and death, by their bold and clear signatures to the Declaration of Independence. It reared and trained a race who could rescind slavery though it was interwoven with their political system from foundation to turret, and after bloody battles between those who upheld the one side and those who favored the other, could reunite to labor harmoniously for the welfare and strength of the purified republic.
The Columbian idea of discovery was to find a land where gold could be mined from exhaustless stores, a land flowing with rivers of diamonds and precious stones. Limitless wealth, easily acquired, was to enrich, beyond the dreams of avarice, the sovereigns and people of Spain. He had no conception of the adventurous pioneer and thrifty emigrant. The bell-crowned Pilgrims, landing on Plymouth Rock in midwinter with no other purpose than to found a State for the enjoyment by all of just and equal laws, would have aroused his wonder and contempt. The imagination cannot picture his amazement could he have foreseen the marvellous results of the Mayflower's voyage. The wealth poured in such abundant measure from the mines of the New World into the treasury of Spain was a potent factor in the fall of her power and prestige in Europe.
The founders of our republic welcomed with cordial hospitality all who came to escape from oppression or better their condition. The immigrants who accepted the invitation and landed by millions on our shores brought the qualities and purposes which have added incalculably to the wealth and glory of our country. While South America and Mexico were demoralizing Europe with gold and silver, Europe was contributing tho the United States her farmers and artisans to gather from the fruitful earth and produce in the busy factory an annual and ever-increasing volume of wealth; wealth which enriches, but does not enervate, which stimulates invention, promotes progress, founds institutions of learning, builds homes for the many, and increases the happiness of all. Four centuries separates us from Columbus. Within this period more has been accomplished for humanity than in the four thousand years which preceded him.
We are here to erect this statue to his memory, because of the unnumbered blessings to America and to the people of every race and clime which have followed his discovery. His genius and faith gave to succeeding generations the opportunity for life and liberty. We, the heirs of all the ages, in the plenitude of our enjoyments and the prodigality of the favours showered upon us, hail Columbus: Hero and benefactor!
At the close of Mr. Depew's address there was prolonged applause, when General Wilson advanced to the front of the platform and said that the ceremonies were at an end. Then the people gathered about the base of the statue and passed around it to view its beauty. The polished New England granite pedestal bears on its front in large gilt letters the name "COLUMBUS", and on the back "Presented by citizens of New York, In Commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Discovery of the New World, October, 1492". For a description of Suñol's statue, readers are referred to the concluding article from "The Art Interchange", which appears on another page.
The proceedings connected with the ceremonial of unveiling the Columbus statue were very appropriately concluded by a pleasant dinner-party in the evening, given by ex-Mayor and Mrs. William H. Grace at their residence, Nº 31 East Seventy-Ninth street, at which the principal guests were Vice-President and Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, General and Mrs. Grant Wilson, Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, Commodore Van Santyoord, Arturo Baldasano, Consul-General of Spain, and Hon. Thomas L. James. The Italian Ambassador and the Baroness de Fava were compelled by an important engagement to return Washington the same evening; and the Spanish Minister, Señor Muruaga, was prevented by illness from being present.
The gift to the people of New York City of a spirited bronze statue of Christopher Columbus for the adornment of Central Park is a patriotic and altogether praiseworthy deed. The one hundred and fifty gentlemen who contributed their efforts and their money for the accomplishment of this graceful purpose are indeed public-spirited. To them and to General James Grant Wilson, who conceived the idea of reproducing in Central Park for the enjoyment of the American public the beautiful statue which he admired in Madrid, and who pushed his purpose to success, are due the thanks of all. Suñol's Columbus is deserving of the important site it occupies at the entrance to the Mall as much on account of the healthful public spirit that prompted the gift as on account of its intrinsic beauty.- New York Herald
New York has reason for satisfaction that at last she has what, to her shame as the chief city of the American continent, she long lacked, a creditable statue of Columbus. The presentation to the city by the Italian residents of the monument at Eighth Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street was followed yesterday by the unveiling on the Mall in Central Park of the Suñol statue of the discoverer, which is similar to the famous work by the same sculptor in the Prado at Madrid. The site chosen is one of the finest in the park, and testifies to the high appreciation of the gift by our city. The statue itself does credit to the location, and with the Shakespeare and Indian Hunter near by will form an exceeding effective group. The ceremonies yesterday afternoon were of an unusually interesting character; for, in addition to the parts taken by the Vice-President, Bishop Potter, Mr. Depew, and others, there were addresses by the representatives of Italy and Spain, the two nations most closely associated in our minds with Columbus; and a poem by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, whose singing for freedom has been no less effective than other's fighting. - New York Tribune
General Grant William, the distinguished solider and author, strolling one day through the Prado, in Madrid, paused before a marble statue of Columbus, the beauty of which called forth his profound admiration. It was the work of Señor Jerónimo Suñol, a sculptor whose fame is by no means confined to the Spanish capital. In the few moments that followed, the General resolved that of so fine a representation of the great discoverer there ought to be a replica in America, owned by the Americans. That resolution has been carried out, and New York is soon to be the possessor of a statue of Columbus than which there is probably none finer in the world. Upon his return here, General Wilson laid his plans before a number of prominent New Yorkers, including Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Mr. August Belmont, and Mr. William Waldorf Astor, and enlisted their hearty interest as well as secured their moneyed subscriptions. The fifteen thousand dollars which was paid for the statue and pedestal was made up by on-hundred-dollar subscriptions, several ladies being among the subscribers.
Having raised the necessary funds, the General ordered the replica. The artist, Suñol, flattered by this very practical appreciation of his work, responded , not with a replica, but with an entirely new model, which in artistic finish was soon discovered to transcend even the original. This was two years ago. Since then the statue had been cast, and is now in this city. Though not yet on public exhibition, through the courtesy of General Wilson, "The Art Interchange" is permitted to reproduce it. The statue is of heroic size, and represents Columbus at "The Landing" in the act of returning thanks to God. He wears the famous coat of scarlet, deep-edged with ermine. Around his neck is a heavy chain with a pendant containing the head of Isabella. The right leg is in advance, the left leg drawn back and resting on the toe. The right arm is thrown forward, the hand firmly grasping the royal standard, while the other hand is outheld as if in blessing. The head of Columbus here presented is the type most familiar. Here is the smooth-shaven face, the high retreating brow, the long hair caressing broad shoulders. Expression - that impalpable something by means of which genius turns stone and metal into flesh and blood - is here made to given the true effect. Here is Columbus, the living man. This is a being, animated, whose attitude expresses only one thing - gratitude. In the face there is an intensity, an earnestness, which makes one forget that it is cold bronze; for those open lips are actually muttering, those ayes expressing, thankfulness.
In the figure, the artist with consummate skill shows the two sides of the hero's life - the two distinct men which his career compelled him to be. In the silvered locks flowing down from his uncovered head, in the deep-set, uplifted eyes shining with a holy light, in the sad and gentle lips, in the hand humbly outheld in blessing, is the aged student, the scholar, the man of peace; while in the undaunted determination that firm sets the features in the massive neck and sturdy shoulders, in the force and strength which the ponderous frame seems to be holding in reserve, is the rough adventurer, the hardy and brawny navigator, the iron-willed captain. The execution of the statue is indeed faithful. More than once it reveals the magic touch of genius, and the whole is a splendid specimen of what later-day Spaniards can do in plastic art. Among the living sculptors of his native land Suñol has no superior.
The statue was to have been unveiled last spring by the Duke of Veragua, but on account of the delay in shipment and of the breaking down of the vessel in transit, it did not arrive until just before the Duke sailed - too late for him to officiate, as proposed. However, the Duke saw the statue, and declared that it far excelled even the beautiful original in his own country. The late King of Spain, who entertained General Wilson in that magnificent palace at Madrid which the first Napoleon deemed the finest in Europe, remarked to his guest, "Columbus should form and enduring bond between Spain and the United States", and expressed very great interest in the General's scheme, saying "I should like to visit New York and unveil the statue when it is completed".
The statue is to stand in the Mall in Central Park, opposite the statue of Shakespeare, and, by having a pedestal designed by Napoleon Le Brun, somewhat similar in size and material, the two will harmonize. The ceremony of unveiling, which will be an important event fraught with great public interest, is now fixed for an early day in the coming spring, upon which occasion Mr. Chauncey M. Depew will be the orator and Mrs. Julia Ward Howe read a poem composed for the occasion. Mr. Stevenson, Vice-President of the United States, is to be invited to unveil the statue and deliver the address of presentation. As is usual in such a project, its practical fulfulment falls entirely upon one man. In this case, the man is General Wilson, with whom the idea originated, and to whom the credit is chiefly due for the undertaking's great success.- The Art Interchange, February, 1894.
Among those who subscribed 100 dollars each to pay for the statue and pedestal are the following ladies and gentlemen;
1. The other ushers, all memebers of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, were Messrs. Gilbert S. Coddington, Richard H. Greene, Alfred R. Conkling, Edmund Abdy Hurry, Henry T. Drowne, Theodore Sutro, Thomas G. Evans, Hohn V. L. Pruyn, Richard T. Greene and Clarence W. Bowen.
2. "Memorials and Footprints of Columbus". An address by Gen. Jas. Grant Wilson, President of the New York Geographical and Biographical Society. New York, 1888.