Today, the New Jersey State Quarter Coin remembers battle’s success on December 26, 1776 and the laying of the monument’s cornerstone in 1891.
From the New Amsterdam Gazette of 1891:
Patriots in Trenton.
They hold the town as did their forefathers in ’76, commemorating Washington’s victory.
Trenton was in the hands of patriots on December 26, 1891, as she was 115 years ago when she welcomed Washington’s army after its successful encounter with Col. Rahl’s Hessians. The descendants of the men who fought for liberty on that day were there doing honor to those who fought then, and commemorating one of the bright spots in the history of the Revolution.
At noon that day Gov. Leon Abbett, of New Jersey, laid the corner-stone of the Trenton battle monument. The monument is erected to commemorate the famous battle, and is located upon the exact spot where the battle took place.
In itself the victory was not of great importance, but, coming when the patriots were discouraged, it cheered the little army and showed the British the metal of the men with whom they had to deal. No business was done in Trenton that day; stores, offices and factories closing to do honor to the great event.
The State and municipal buildings were gay with bunting and decorations, and private citizens had trimmed their houses lavishly. Trenton has never held a larger crowd than gathered to see the exercises that day.
As early as 10 o’clock people began to gather about the site of the monument, which is at what is known as the Five Points, where Washington and Greene Sts., and Brunswick, Princeton and Pennington Aves. come together.
A large platform, capable of seating three hundred persons, had been erected over the preliminary work on the foundation. A preliminary meeting of the Monument Association was held at the residence of Gen. William S. Stryker, the president, to arrange the details of the ceremonies.
The Sons of the Revolution and the Society of Cincinnati, both of which took part in the ceremonies, also held preliminary meetings at 11 o’clock.
At 11.30 all the members of these Societies, the members of the Trenton Battle Monument Association and the invited guests having assembled at the Masonic Temple, at Warren and State streets, the procession of sixty carriages started for the monument.
Among those on the platform, besides the participants in the program, were: Gen. William C. Heppenheimer, Comptroller of the State of New Jersey; Hon. George R. Gray, State Treasurer; Col. Benjamin F. Lee, Clerk of the Supreme Court; Hon. Allen L. McDermott, Clerk of the Court of Chancery; J. S. Rosengarten, Bishop Scarborough, Rev. James A. McFaul, Hon. James Buchanan, Major Charles W. Raymond, United States Army Engineer in charge; Col. Washington A. Roebling, Hon. Charles E. Green, Judge E. W. Scudder, Gen. R. A. Donnelly, Hon. A. S. Richie, Gen. James A. Russell, Gen. S. D. Oliphant, Capt. James L. Wilson, of Philadelphia, and members of the City Council and the Board of Freeholders.
Mayor Daniel T. Bechtel presided, and the following program was carried out:
Music — “Star-spangled Banner,” by Winkler’s Seventh Regiment Band.
Prayer — Rev. John Dixon, D. D., Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Trenton, organized in 1712.
Contents of box read by his Honor Daniel T. Bechtel, Mayor of Trenton.
Laying of the corner stone by His Excellency Gov. Leon Abbett.
National salute (forty-four guns).
Address — Gov. Leon Abbett, “New Jersey, the Battle ground of the Revolution.”
Benediction — Right Rev. Michael J. O’Farrell, Bishop of Trenton.
Music — Medley of national airs by Winkler’s Seventh Regiment Band.
Gov. Abbett delivered a stirring address on “New Jersey, the Battleground of the Revolution.”
He spoke of the marching and counter-marching of both the American and British troops across her soil, and the way in which the State suffered from the depredations of the one and the necessities of the other.
Not only can New Jersey boast of marches, encampments and forage on her soil (said the Governor), but history will assign her the glory of being the great battle-ground of the war of the Revolution.
On the soil where this monument will stand, the first real victory of the war was gained. Here Washington risked all, and today we are commemorating the victory gained by the Continental Army on the streets of this historic town.
December 26, 1776, Greene and Sullivan led the irresistible forces of the American Army, and in a brief hour success came to what was then almost a hopeless cause. This was really the most important victory of the American Army, for it is almost certain that, if Washington had been defeated at this time, utter hopelessness and despair would have followed.
It was the dawn of a brighter day; it gave new hope to the struggling patriots, and was the first of a series of victories which ended in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.
At the conclusion of the exercises the carriages were re-entered, and the Societies, with their invited guests, proceeded to the places where preparations had been made for luncheon and commemorative exercises.
The New Jersey State Society of the Cincinnati had a banquet in the Masonic Temple at 1 o’clock.
At 2.30 they held a special meeting and listened to the following gentlemen:
Hon. Leon Abbett, Governor of New Jersey, “Our Country’s Flag, the Symbol of Patriotism.”
Hon. Joseph Dorsett Beddle, LL.D., ex-Governor of New Jersey, “The Revolutionary Independence of New Jersey.”
Hon. Asa Bird Gardiner, LL.D., Secretary General of the Order of the Cincinnati, “Our French Allies in the War of the Revolution.”
President Austin Scott, LL.D., of Rutgers College, “Trenton and the wide-extended Continent.”
Samuel H. Grey, Esq., of the New Jersey Bar, “The Continental Soldier in the early Days of the War.”
The Right Rev. Michael J. O’Farrell, Roman Catholic Bishop of Trenton, though not down on the program for an address was called upon, and won great applause for a patriotic speech delivered by him.
Gov. Abbett said in part: “It is interesting and a matter of congratulation to know that our flag is older than the present union-jack of England, older than the tricolored flag of France, older than the flag of Italy, older than the standard of the empire of Germany; but, above and beyond all things, it is the flag that represents an independent people, growing with wonderful progress, governing their land by the will of the people alone, and floating over a country that, with all its faults, is steadily advancing with its mighty strides as an empire of freemen. Our flag has never, never been unfurled except to battle in the cause of liberty and right.”
The Sons of the Revolution hold also a special meeting which was addressed by several of their invited guests.
A grand public meeting for commemorative exercises was held by the Trenton Battle Monument Association in Taylor’s Opera House, at 1 o’clock, Major-Gen. William J. Sewell presiding. The following was the program for the occasion:
Address by Hon. John R. McPherson, U. S. Senator from New Jersey, “Monuments Commemorative of Revolutionary Battles Educate the People in Love of Country.”
Gen. William S. Stryker, President of the Trenton Battle Monument Association, read a historical paper on the battle of Trenton.
Gen. Horace Porter, of New York, delivered an address on “American Patriotism.”
Gen. Wager Swayne, of New York. Hon. George M. Robeson, ex-Secretary United States Navy, spoke on “Patriotism should Be In stilled in Every American.”
Arrangements were made for a very fine public display of fireworks that evening.
The monument will be, when completed, one of the most beautiful of the many battle monuments in this country. It was designed by Architect John H. Duncan, of New York.
In general design it will be a huge column in the Roman Doric style, 130 feet 6 inches high. The monument will be of white granite, and will be surmounted by a heroic statue of Washington.
At the top of the shaft there will be a corona of thirteen electric lights. The approach is through an exedra seat 50 feet in diameter.
The neck of the cap will be ornamented with the stars of the thirteen original States of the Union. The base will be of unhewn granite, and 34 feet square.
At the four angles of the base will be four eagles as figures of victory. On the cut-granite pedestal above the rock-face work there will be four panels for bronze relief tablets.
The panel in front, facing the city, will illustrate the artillery opening the engagement, and the figures will face in the direction of the spot where the artillery stood at the battle.
On the side toward the river will be the scene of “Washington directing the Crossing of the Delaware,” and on the side opposite this, facing the scene of the Surrender, will be placed the scene of the Crossing.
The remaining tablet will contain inscriptions of historic interest.
Life-like bronze statues of soldiers of the Revolutionary period will guard the doors of the entrance — one in the dress of a dragoon, the other in that of an infantry man.
The chamber in the pedestal will have three niches, with metal grills built in each; which will form reliquaries for articles of the battle.
From the center of this chamber an elevator run by electricity will carry the visitor to the top of the shaft, where visitors may have a panoramic view of many miles of the surrounding country.
The New Jersey State Quarter Coin shows with an image of the completed monument.