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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Dept. of Amplification: 1924

Dept. of Amplification: 1924

October 15, 1924. "Dedication of Francis Asbury statue, Washington, D.C." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Asbury statue

Recent attention paid to this statue, with current photos here.

And now

To get the proper perspective I would have to climb a tree that is approximately where the photographer was.

Navy hats

The hat ("cover") mentioned was part of the dress uniform for Navy officers until the mid 1930s, and only then did the Navy standardize on the same style of headgear as the Army, albeit with different colors and symbols. That older style of headgear was called a "fore and aft" and many senior officers were dismayed when it went out of the regs. I think it's still very dashing.

Cold Cal

Coolidge was the Governor of Massachusetts who broke the Boston Police strike in 1919. That propelled him into the Republican VP nomination, he was elected as Warren Harding's Veep in 1920. Harding died and he became President in 1923. He was elected again in 1924 and set the stage for the disastrous Herbert Hoover. If anyone wants a good read about this era, I recommend Dennis Lehane's "Give Us This Day" a well written novel about Boston during that period. It's a real eye opener.

A hat out of Nelson's day

Note the navy captain sitting with back to the camera, right lower corner, wearing the old style fore and aft hat.

I wonder how long that stayed part of the dress uniform? I have a picture of my grandfather's wedding in (I think) 1933 - he and all the other officers are wearing dress whites with a regular visored cap.

Or maybe the officer in our photo is Royal Navy or some other service?


Amplification like we see here was a relatively recent invention and yet, orators have been talking to similar or larger crowds for thousands of years. I wonder how they managed.

Color Guard

That's not the Boy Scouts; it looks like some sort of a color guard. They probably were involved in raising the flag in front of the speaker and will lower it at the closing. The fellow leaning over is probably whispering something to the other one; it looks like he has Private rank insignia on his sleeve.

Eye in the sky

With President Coolidge in attendance, perhaps the gents on the rooftop were Secret Service agents.


"Mr. Coolidge declared that the legislatures and Congress were not the primary places for reform. Rather, reliance should be placed more upon religion, he said."

Now that's what I call the Good Old Days.

Capital Domes

The array of balding heads in the direct front of the picture reminds me of being in church as a child. it seems we always sat behind bald men, which then became my focus of visual attention rather than the priest speaking Latin.

Behold the Christian Warrior

Washington Post, Oct 16, 1924

President Praises Asbury as Bishop's Statue is Unveiled

Equestrian Work Held Among Best in World

President Coolidge yesterday joined with high apostles of Methodism in extolling Francis Asbury, the first American bishop of their church. And in doing so Mr. Coolidge declared that the legislatures and Congress were not the primary places for reform. Rather, reliance should be placed more upon religion, he said.

It was the occasion of the unveiling of an equestrian statue to the militant clergyman of the period of 1745-1816. Unveiled on the triangle at Sixteenth and Mount Pleasant streets, it was the consummation of a tribute that was first conceived before the war and to participate in which Methodists came from all parts of the country and Canada.

With approximately 5,000 persons seated in a roped enclosure and hundreds of others standing in both Sixteenth and Mount Pleasant streets, the President struck the high note of praise that was delivered by speakers who preceded and followed him. Declaring that the government "never gets ahead of religion of a country," the President said that certainly Francis Asbury is "entitled to rank as one of the builders of the nation."
Of bronze and marble, the work of Augustus Lukeman, of New York, the memorial was unveiled by Mrs. Arthur Gordon Van Ness of Baltimore, formerly Miss Kathryn Watson daughter of Rev. Edward L. Watson, past of the Roland Park Methodist Episcopal church, that city. Erected on a spot chosen by the Fine Arts commission, with the approval of Congress, the memorial at once assumed a place of majestic grace in a veritable religious atmosphere. Almost with a stone's throw of it are magnificent edifices of several denominations.

Two large American flags were unfurled from around the marker at the direction of Mrs. Van Ness, while the Third calvary band played the hymn, "Behold the Christian Warrior Stand in All the Armor of His God." A detachment of soldiers from Fort Myer stood at attention while the Paul Revere bell in All Souls' tower rang a welcome note. At the same time a flock of carrier pigeons were released and soon were lost in the air, symbolic of message carriers - messages of peace and Christianity.
His mount, as done in the statue, is work and weary, as Bishop J.j. Cannon pointed out. The horse's head is drooping, but that of the rider is lifted high. In his right hand he carries the Bible, "they sword of the spirit; of peace." This was Christ's weapon in his battle with the devil, Bishop Cannon declared, and so was it the weapon of Asbury. Hanging from the saddle of the horse are a pair of old-fashioned saddlebags containing books and articles of clothing that the bishop is said to have carried with him as he traveled from the coast to the western edge of the wilderness with his message. It was more than 6,000 miles a year he traveled, President Coolidge recounted, at a salary which never exceeded $85 a year.

Where's . . .

I can't find the Verizon guy.

In the back

Can you hear me now?

Body Language

The Boy Scouts (or whatever they are) just in front of the statue look a little antagonistic.

View Larger Map

Mount Pleasant

The location is the west side of 16th Street, where Mt Pleasant Street (the originally 16th Street) veers off to the left. The Kenesaw Apartments are visible in the rear.

What is Francis Asbury doing today?

Here's a photo of the statue today, with a close-up:

And here's the dedication speech:

Looks like "Silent Cal" wasn't so silent after all!

Riding Into The "New Jerusalem"

The statue looks a bit like Sancho Panza, or the Quaker Oats man riding a mule. Also, that array of speaker horns is right out of an early 1930's Popeye cartoon. I can't recall the title, but, announcing a fight between Popeye and Bluto, the speakers get into an argument with each other!

The Reverend Asbury also had a New Jersey resort town named after him, but it went into a steep economic decline in the 1970's. It was all downhill after The Boss left...

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