Today, the Grant Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the corner-stone event in New York on April 27, 1892.
From the Sacramento Daily Union:
The Corner-Stone Laid With Impressive Ceremonies.
Forty Thousand People Gather At The Tomb.
Eloquent Tributes Paid to the Memory of the Dead Soldier by President Harrison and Chauncey M. Depew —Fifteen Hundred School Children Scatter Flowers Around the Grave —Mrs. Grant Present at the Ceremonies.
Special to the Record-Union. New York, April 27.
Today being the seventieth anniversary of the birth of General Ulysses S. Grant, the occasion was selected for laying the cornerstone of an imposing monument which is to guard the last resting-place of the soldier and patriot on the banks of the Hudson, in Riverside Park.
The Federal and municipal buildings were decorated, and private houses decked with bunting. The day was observed as a half-holiday.
Early in the day crowds set out for Riverside Park. A grand-stand, seating 12,000 people, was built around the foundations of the mausoleum, on which there was a dais for the speakers and distinguished guests.
Below were benches for Grand Army veterans to the number of 2,000.
The monitor Miantonomah dropped anchor in the Hudson opposite the tomb, and a body of sailors was sent ashore and finished the decorations around the mausoleum.
The President left the Fifth-avenue Hotel at 12:45, and was accompanied by Troop A of cavalry, Captain C. A. Roe commanding.
With the President were General Horace Porter and Lieutenant Parker. In other carriages were Vice President Morton and F. D. Tappin, Secretary Elkins and General Butterfield, Postmaster-General Wanamaker and John H. Starin, Secretary Noble and H. W. Connor, Secretary Rusk, Cornelius Bliss, Chauncey M. Depew and others.
The cavalry wheeled into column, and with platoons preceding and following the Chief Executive party took up the march.
The ceremonies in the park were announced to commence at 2 o’clock.
Long before that hour the big grand stand and other seats were filled and the sward swarming with a crowd of spectators.
The Loyal Legion and members of the Grand Army of the Republic were the first to arrive.
By 2 o’clock fully 40,000 people were on the ground. The arrival of the veteran, General Franz Sigel, was the signal for an outburst of cheering by the G. A. R. comrades.
Among the distinguished guests on the platform were Generals Schofield, Howard, Dodge and Slocum.
President Harrison and party arrived at 2:15.
After “Hail to the Chief” by the band and an invocation by Rev. Dr. John Hall, General Horace Porter, of the President Grant Monument Association, spoke, saying;
“We gather here to lay the corner-stone of a temple of the dead and to celebrate an event which will be forever memorable in history. We meet to perform a ceremony in the presence of people who honored him, and brave men who followed him to victory.
“Although the fund required for the completion of this monumental tomb is large, it was decided to lay the corner-stone today, in the confident belief that the patriotic work once begun will never be allowed to stop till completed.
“I have great satisfaction in announcing that the total subscriptions up to last night amount to $202,800. When the structure shall have reached completion the dome will point out the path of loyalty to unborn children. Hallowed memories which cluster around it will remind us of his heroic aid to the republic.
“The blending of chaste lines and massive proportions will be typical of the hero who sleeps beneath the granite, and will recall the child-like simplicity which mingled with the majestic grandeur of his nature.”
As General Porter closed the workmen manned the windlass on either side of the immense corner-stone, and with heads uncovered the crowd waited for President Harrison to perform the ceremony.
He stepped from the platform to the southeast corner of the foundations. He spread cement with a gold trowel, and the stone was dropped in place. He then ascended the base and spoke as follows:
“My assignment connected with these services has to do with mechanics rather than oratory. The pleasing duty of bringing to your memory those brilliant public services, of the personal and manly virtues which place the name of Ulysses S. Grant so high upon the scroll of fame, and settled the love of the man so deeply in all patriotic hearts, developed upon another, who never fails to do credit to himself or give pleasure to his favorite heroes.
“No orator, however gifted, can overpraise General Grant. [Cheers.] The most impressive and costly memorial architect can plan or wealth can execute, is justified when the name of Grant is inscribed upon it. [Cheers.]
“lam glad to see here what seems to me to be double assurance that the work ho nobly planned will be speedily consummated. Your distinguished citizen who assumed the burden of conducting the great enterprise learned from the beloved chief to exclude the word failure from his vocabulary.” [Loud cheers, during which the President took his seat.]
Music followed, and then the orator of the day, Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, delivered an eloquent oration, dwelling upon the sterling qualities of the deceased General and President.
In the address was the following striking passage:
“The phenomenon of our times and one of the chief dangers to law and order is the growth of the school of despair. The concentrated contemplation of accumulated wealth and the hopelessness of acquiring it, paralyses industrial energies and true ambitions, and plants the seeds of socialism and anarchy.
“But Lincoln, from the poverty of a Kentucky cabin, and Grant, from the narrow gifts of a log house in the Ohio wilderness, became central figures and representative heroes of our age. They are types of the glory of American citizenship.”
Depew declared the predominant sentiments of Grant was his family and home.
“He would have preferred being buried by the side of his father and mother, but appreciating the data of his countrymen, he chose New York as the final resting-place. New York, in accepting the bequest, assumed a sacred trust.
“Let the monument which will rise upon the corner-stone be worthy the magnitude of the metropolis and the grandeur of its subject. General Grant needs no stately shaft nor massive pile to perpetuate his memory.
“The republic is his monument, and its history, during what must always be its most critical period, will be the story of his deeds.”
Depew then sketched Grant’s career, and declared him a most self-sacrificing friend and most generous foe.
Rev. Dr. Hall pronounced the benediction, and the guns of the Miantonomah fired a national salute.
School boys to the number of 1500 marched by the tomb, and scattered flowers around it.
Mrs. Grant, with one grandchild and a party of friends, occupied the position of honor on the grand stand.
As soon as the ceremonies at the tomb were over the President and party took carriages to Jersey City, and left for Washington at 6:20.
The Grant Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of the Grant Monument, circa 1897.