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MAGAZINE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

Vol. XII

AUGUST, 1884

No. 2

THE STORY OF A MONUMENT

A

STATELY monument of granite and limestone now marks the spot

where the Revolutionary battle of Oriskany was fought, August 6, 1777. A history of the series of efforts to secure the erection of this monument is worth chronicling, not only because it belongs with the record of the completed work, but because it is aptly illustrative of the indifference of Americans to memorials which commemorate their history. Perhaps the story of how it was done, of the zeal and well-directed effort of the few men who accomplished it, will help to inspire a like zeal and effort among dwellers in localities of historic interest yet unmarked.

The story of the battle of Oriskany has been fully related in the pages of the Magazine of American History [October, 1877, and January, 1878). There were aspects of that savage struggle in the woods which seemed to have impressed more deeply the men who directed the Revolutionary war than they have the subsequent historians of that war. The Continental Congress, as soon as it learned of the Oriskany fight and of the death of General Herkimer, from the effects of the wound received while directing the battle, unanimously passed this resolution, which appears in the proceedings for October 4, 1777:

Resolved, That the Governor and Council of New York be desired to erect a monument, at Continental expense, of the value of five hundred dollars, to the memory of the late Brigadier-General Herkimer, who commanded the militia of Tryon County, in the State of New York, and was killed fighting gallantly in defense of the liberties of these States."

The Continental Congress was addicted to resolutions of this character, ordering monuments and trusting to the future to pay for them; its purse could not keep pace with its patriotism. But the Congress cannot be blamed for the failure to carry out its injunctions, nor indeed can anybody else. There is in existence the letter of Governor George Clinton, in which, covering to the Committee of Safety of Tryon County a copy of the above resolution, he requested that immediate steps be taken for the erection of General Herkimer's monument. The request was neglected

VOL. XII.-No. 2.-7

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