Out of the Archives

historical drawing of Washington Circle statue with crowds of people surrounding
May 08, 2010

Feb. 22 marks the 150th anniversary of the George Washington statue in Washington Circle.

The equestrian statue of George Washington in Foggy Bottom’s Washington Circle was dedicated in 1860 by President James Buchanan before an audience that included the vice president, cabinet secretaries, senators and military leaders.

“Altogether it was the finest military and civic display in Washington for many years,” according to a Harper’s Weekly article from the time. “The [parade] column, extending over half a mile in length, proceeded up Pennsylvania Avenue under pleasing auspices, except the mud.”

In a short but impressively verbose speech, President Buchanan proclaimed, “The honorable and important duty has been assigned to me of dedicating this statue of Washington, which is a noble production of native American genius. This welcome and grateful task I now proceed to perform.”

President Buchanan then characterized the dedication as an “act of pious devotion … in the name of the whole American people of the United States, one and indivisible, now and forever.” Despite the rhetoric, a year later the nation was torn apart by the Civil War.

Sculptor Clark Mills also created the 1853 equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park just north of the White House.

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