The Honorable Constantine Jacob Erdman, former member of the U.S. Congress, was one of the major dignitaries chosen to celebrate the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Allentown on 19 October 1864. According to The Allentown Leader, he said the following to the large crowd:
While it was not intended that the unveiling of this column should be an apotheosis of valor and patriotism, yet it was not deemed wise to let the occasion pass without inculcating the proper moral.
It was a principle very similar to that upon which the public school system is founded, that induced the Legislature in 1895 to enact that upon the petition of at least 50 citizens to the Court of Quarter Sessions of any county for the erection of a monument in memory of the soldiers and sailors of the war of 1861-1865 it should be the duty of the Court to lay the matter before the Grand Jury, and if approved by two successive Grand Juries and the Court, the commissioners were authorized to erect a suitable monument at the county seat.
In pursuance of this act, 384 citizens of the county of Lehigh petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions in appropriate terms and the matter was duly referred to the Grand Jury at September sessions, 1897. On September 10, 1897, the Grand Jury took action and approved of the project. The matter was again referred to the Grand Jury at November sessions and on November 12, 1897, was again approved. On October 10, 1898, the Honorable Edwin Albright, president judge of the Court of Quarter Sessions, upon motion of the petitioners, approved of the action of the two Grand Juries and the erection of the monument. On October 17, 1898, Richard Klotz, Stephen B. Neumoyer and Edward B. Neff, commissioners of the county of Lehigh, approved the monument.
After careful examination of 10 designs submitted by various parties, the contract was awarded to the Pennsylvania Monument Association for the monument now before us at a cost of $39,000, which was augmented by difficulties in securing the foundation and the additional bronze to $43,000. The contract was duly entered into on November 26, 1898, and approved for a monument of medium shade, Barre Vermont granite, and copper, and standard cast bronze ornamentation.
The corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies by the Grand Army of the Republic on June 26, 1899.
The Legislature fixed the purpose for which the monument was to be erected, but in carrying out this purpose the commissioners determined to make the inspiration of patriotism the controlling feature. The central group in bronze representing the unification of the country and universal endeavor in her defense, properly represents the dominant sentiment of this shaft. The ancients commemorated their victories in Civil War by wooden monuments that the recollection thereof might soon pass away. But far better this enduring tribute to the valor and patriotism of our soldiers, so that the memory of great and mighty deeds may never fade, yet with no tinge of bitterness against the one time foe, and an indissoluble union, in one flag, one country.
This beautiful column, this imposing and inspiring monument, Mr. Mayor, the county of Lehigh now places under the care and protection of the City of Allentown, cherishing the hope that it may long endure to embellish her streets and teach the future generations.
A Glorious Day: Yesterday’s Monument Unveiling a Great Success: Gov. Stone’s Taking Little Speech: Praise for Dr. Baer’s Oration. Colonel Shaw Grows Eloquent and General Stewart’s Windup Pleases Everybody. Monument Now in Allentown’s Care, in The Allentown Leader. Allentown: 20 October 1889.
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