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Centennial Exhibition,

The “World's fair,” held in Philadelphia in 1876, commemorating the centennial of the political existence of the North American Republic. On June 1, 1872, Congress passed an act providing for a Centennial Board of Finance. The members of this board were authorized to procure subscriptions to a capital stock not exceeding $10,000,000, in shares of $10 each. John Welsh, of

Centennial Exhibition buildings.

Philadelphia, was chosen president of this board. William Sellers and John S. Barbour were appointed vice-presidents, and Frederick Fraley treasurer. An official seal was adopted, simple in design. The words United States Centennial commission were placed in concentric circles around the edge of the seal. In the centre was a view of the old State-house in Philadelphia; and beneath the building were the words (cast on the State-house bell ten years before the Revolution), “proclaim liberty Throughiout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.” It was soon decided to make the affair international, instead of national—an exhibition of the products of all nations.

Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, an ideal site for the purpose, was chosen as the place to hold the great fair. Suitable buildings were erected, five in number —namely, Main Exhibition Building, Memorial Hall (or Art Gallery), Machinery Hall, Horticultural Hall, and Agricultural Hall. The aggregate cost of these buildings was about $4,444,000. The space occupied by them was about 49 acres of ground, and their annexes covered 26 acres more, making a total of 75 acres. The main building alone covered over 21 acres. The national government issued invitations to all foreign nations having diplomatic relations with the United States to participate in the exhibition by sending the products of their industries. There was a generous response, and thirty-three nations, besides the United States, were represented—namely, Argentine Republic, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chili, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland, India and British colonies, Hawaiian Islands, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Liberia. Luxemburg Grand Duchy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Orange Free State, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Santo Domingo, Spain and Spanish colonies, Siam, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunis, Turkey, and Venezuela. A “Woman's executive committee” was formed, composed of Philadelphians, who raised money sufficient among the women of the Union for the erection of a building for the exhibition exclusively of women's work—sculpture, painting, engraving, lithography, literature, telegraphy, needlework of all kinds, etc.— at a cost of $30,000. The building was called the “Women's pavilion.” In it were exhibited beautiful needlework from England and etchings from the hand of Queen Victoria.

The women of the republic also contributed to the general fund of the Centennial Commission more than $100,000. The great exhibition was opened May 10. The opening ceremonies were grand and imposing. Representatives of many nations were present. The late Dom Pedro II., then Emperor of Brazil (with his empress), was the only crowned head present. The American Congress and the foreign diplomats were largely [81] represented. The President of the United States (General Grant), in the presence of fully 100,000 people, appeared upon the great platform erected for the occasion, accompanied by his wife, when the “Grand Centennial March,” composed by Richard Wagner, the great German musical composer, was performed by the orchestra of Theodore Thomas. Then Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, uttered a prayer, and was followed by a thousand voices chanting an impressive “Centennial hymn,” composed by John Greenleaf Whittier, accompanied by a grand organ and the whole orchestra. When the chanting was ended the chairman of the Centennial Board of Finance formally presented the building to the United States Centennial Commission. After a cantata, composed by Sidney Lanier, of Georgia, was sung, General Hawley, president of the Commission, presented the exhibition to the President of the United States, after which the latter made a brief response. The American flag was then unfurled over the Main Building, which gave notice to the multitude that the Centennial Exhibition was opened. The government of the United

Sandstone Rock, Rio Abajo, Tegucigalpa, Central America.

States, separate States, foreign governments, different industries, corporations, and individuals erected buildings on the grounds, making the whole number of structures 190. The exhibition was open for pay admissions 159 days, the pay-gates being closed on Sundays. The total number of cash admissions at fifty cents each was 7,250,620; and at twenty-five cents, 753,654. The number of free admissions was 1,906,692, making the grand total of admissions 9,910,966. The largest number of admissions in a full month was in October, when it reached 2,663,911. The largest number admitted in a single day— “Pennsylvania day” —was 274,919. The total amount of cash receipts was $3,813,725.50. The exhibition closed, with imposing ceremonies, on Nov. 10. In all respects it was the grandest and most comprehensive international exposition that had then been held. See Columbian Exposition, world's.

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