On Oct. 24, 1781, after the Congress
had voted the thanks of the nation to Washington
and his associate officers who had brought about the surrender of Cornwallis, that body resolved:
That the United States, in Congress assembled, will cause to be erected at York, in Virginia, a marble column, adorned with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his Christian Majesty, and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of Earl Cornwallis to his excellency General Washington, commander-in-chief of the combined forces of America and France; to his excellency the Count de Rochambeau, commanding the auxiliary troops of his most Christian Majesty in America; and to his excellency the Count de Grasse, commanding the naval forces of France in Chesapeake Bay.
On the centennial anniversary of the surrender the corner-stone of a commemorative monument was laid, with impressive services, including the following address by President Arthur
Upon this soil, one hundred years ago, our forefathers brought to a successful issue their heroic struggle for independence.
Here and then was established, and is, we trust, made secure upon this continent for ages yet to come, that principle of government which is the very fibre of our political system —the sovereignty of the people.
The resentments which attended and for a time sur-
vived the clash of arms have long since ceased to animate our hearts.
It is with no feeling of exultation over a defeated foe that to-day we summon up a remembrance of those events which have made this ground holy whereon we tread.
Surely no such unworthy sentiment could find harbor in our hearts, so profoundly thrilled with the expression of sorrow and sympathy which our national bereavement has evolved from the people of England and their august sovereign.
But it is altogether fitting that we should gather here to refresh our souls with the contemplation of unfaltering patriotism, the sturdy zeal of sublime faith which achieved the results we now commemorate.
For so, if we learn aright the lesson of the hour, shall we be incited to transmit to the generations which shall follow, the precious legacy which our forefathers left to us—the love of liberty, protected by law. Of that historic scene which we here celebrate, no feature is more prominent and none more touching than the participation of our gallant allies from across the seas.
It was their presence which gave fresh and vigorous impulse to the hopes of our countrymen when wellnigh disheartened by a long series of disasters.
It was their noble and generous aid extended in the darkest period of the struggle which sped the coming of our triumph and made the capitulation at Yorktown possible a century ago. To their descendants and representatives, who are here present as honored guests of the nation, it is my glad duty to offer a cordial welcome.
You have a right to share with us the associations which cluster about the day, when your fathers fought side by side with our fathers in the cause which was here crowned with success, and none of the memories awakened by this anniversary are more grateful to us all than the reflection that the national friendships here so closely cemented have outlasted the mutations of a changeful century.
God grant, my countrymen, that they may ever remain unshaken, and that ever henceforth with ourselves and with all nations of the earth we may be at peace!
A touching feature of the official exercises was the execution of the following Presidential order:
“In recognition of the friendly relations so long and so happily subsisting between Great Britain
and the United States
, in the trust and confidence of peace and good — will between the two countries for all centuries to come, and especially as a mark of the profound respect entertained by the American
people for the illustrious sovereign and gracious lady who sits upon the British
throne, it is hereby ordered that, at the close of these ceremonies in commemoration of the valor and success of our forefathers in their patriotic struggle for independence, the British
flag shall be saluted by the forces of the army and navy of the United States
now at Yorktown
The Secretary of War
and the Secretary of the Navy
will give orders accordingly.”
The monument, which was the joint work of J. Q. A. Ward
, sculptor, and of Richard M. Hunt
and Henry Van Brunt
, architects, was unveiled on Oct. 19, 1885.