Remarks by Colonel Albert D. Shaw, National Commander, Grand Army of the Republic, at the Dedication of the Lehigh County Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Allentown, 19 October 1899

Colonel Albert S. Shaw, G.A.R. National Commander (c. 1890s, public domain)

Colonel Albert S. Shaw, G.A.R. National Commander (c. 1890s, public domain)

Colonel Albert Duane Shaw, National Commander, Grand Army of the Republic, was one of the dignitaries chosen to celebrate the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Allentown on 19 October 1864. According to The Allentown Leader, Colonel Shaw said the following to the large crowd:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captain and the king depart;
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget.’

This holy hour and this historic occasion bear glorious witness that this section of the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania remembers the sacrifice made for the healing of the nation, when the spirit of secession,  with more than titanic power, struck at the heart of our imperiled Union. This beautiful monument is the outgrowth of patriotic inspirations having their seat and centre in the breasts of a great free people – equal to the present, and reaching forward to all the demands of the future.

The Revolutionary War, in the formative epoch of Washington, brought into view the American volunteer. For the first time the army of defence [sic] came from the free service of willing volunteers. It was the founding of a government ‘of all the people, by all the people and for all the people,’ as Theodore Parker declared in 1843.

The epoch of the great Lincoln astonished the world by the magnitude of its life or death struggle over the conflicting sentiments of sectional slavery or full national freedom. During the mighty conflict the American volunteer was the hero and martyr, as well as the maker of unchallenged liberty. He took his place on his battle line, ready for every duty, and equal to every sacrifice demanded of him in the settlement of a vital national issue, in which the pen had given place to the bloody arbitrament of the sword.

The spirit of liberty inspired the hearts of the loyal and patriotic defenders of our new nation, and led them to freely offer their lives and fortunes and sacred honor in behalf of independence and self-government. The American volunteer policy thus inaugurated in 1776 has been in full force to the present day. The war of 1812; our Indian wars; the great war of 1861-65, and the Spanish-American War have all been fought by volunteers. A free people’s government has thus, from the first been safeguarded by the willing and heroic service of soldiers who offered themselves in its defence [sic]. The portals of our matchless Temple of Freedom – now embracing a vast nationality – founded under Washington, preserved and glorified under Lincoln, and righteously expanded under McKinley, open to the world’s hope for a free and fair chance in which to win a man’s full statute, in the happy conduct of life.

This memorial of art – emblematic of American valor and American sacrifice – will for generations to come greet the eyes of the children, who, in the majesty and mystery of life – will follow those who fought for their country in its supreme travail of soul. Around it cluster the most sacred memories that can animate the souls of the true lovers of liberty.



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.