The New Liberty Pole
( Originally Published 1921 )
The suggestion made by the Manual last year, that the old Post Office should go, and that a new Liberty Pole should arise on the site of the old one, has met with much favor. The New York Historical Society and the Sons of the Revolution took the matter up, and plans for the new Liberty Pole are now quite well along. The removal of the Post Office must inevitably follow, but its removal is likely to be more of a problem than the erection of the Liberty Pole.
Meanwhile your moral support is helpful and each can do his share toward the realization of our plan. The action taken by the two societies mentioned above is related in the "New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin" as follows :
"In a communication addressed to the Executive Committee of the Society, Mr. Henry Collins Brown suggested that a Liberty Pole be erected in City Hall Park similar to the historic emblems of the Colonial and Revolutionary days, as a tribute to the Sons of Liberty and a lasting memorial to the patriotism of the New York troops who served in the World War. His suggestion was favorably acted upon at the October 21st meeting of the Executive Committee, when the following preambles and resolutions were adopted :
"WHEREAS, `The Fields' or `The Commons,' the present City Hall Park, a spot celebrated as the scene of many a public gathering during the Colonial days, and where was held the great popular meeting November 1st, 1765, which protested against the Stamp Act ;
"AND WHEREAS, on the western border of `The Fields' was erected the famous Liberty Pole (about which many struggles took place between the British soldiery and the people), which was the rallying point of the Sons of Liberty, an organization originated in the Stamp Act period, and revived in November, 1773;
"AND WHEREAS, when General Washington occupied the city, a part of the troops were quartered on `The Commons,' and where the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and read to the army on July 9th, 1776 ;
"AND WHEREAS, on the entry of the British in 1776 the Liberty Pole was cut down, and the Commons became a scene of imprisonment of American prisoners of war, confined in the jail, later known as The Hall of Records;
"AND WHEREAS, since the completion of the present City Hall in 1812 the site has been hallowed by civil and military affairs of the city, and has been the reception centre for distinguished visitors to our shores on whom the freedom of the city was be-stowed, Therefore be it
"RESOLVED, That the Corporation of the City of New York be requested to acquire the site now occupied by the Post Office building in order to restore the present City Hall Park to its original dimensions and beauty; and
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That it is the sense of The New York Historical Society and the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, that a liberty pole be erected on the site of the first Liberty Pole, as a memorial of the staunch and unflinching patriotism of the New York troops, their valor and unparalleled success on the battlefields of Europe.
"RESOLVED, That the following Committee of Five, Messrs. Reginald Pelham Bolton, Henry Collins Brown, Frederic Delano Weekes, Walter L. Suydam, and Robert H. Kelby, be appointed to consider and report upon the erection of a Liberty Pole on the site of the original Liberty Pole erected in City Hall Park. The Committee to have power to fill vacancies.
"RESOLVED, That the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York be requested to appoint a similar committee to meet in conjunction with the Committee of The New York Historical Society.
"The Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York heartily endorsed the movement, as noted in the following communication:
Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York,
Fraunces Tavern, Corner Broad and Pearl Streets, New York City.
October 9, 1919.
Robert H. Kelby, Esq., Librarian,
New York Historical Society,
170 Central Park West, N. Y.
Dear Sir :
Referring to the conversation you had with Mr. Montgomery, relative to replacing the Liberty Pole in City Hall Park, we beg to say that the Sons of the Revolution heartily favor it and will be very glad to act in connection with the Historical Society in the matter.
Yours very faithfully,
James Mortimer Montgomery, Henry Russell Drowne.
"At a meeting of the `Board of Managers' of the Sons of the Revolution held on October 27th, 1919, the following committee was appointed to meet with the Committee of The New York Historical Society with regard to erecting a Liberty Pole in City Hall Park:
J. M. Montgomery, Chairman,
William W. Ladd,
J. Wray Cleveland,
George A. Zabriskie.
"On November 5th, 1919, a meeting of both committees was held at Fraunces Tavern. Mr. Reginald Pelham Bolton was elected Chairman of the Joint Committees, Mr. Robert H. Kelby, Secretary and Col. J. Wray Cleveland, Treasurer.
"It was moved that the committee seek an appointment with Mayor Hylan to lay the plan before him and to secure the consent of the Park Commissioner for the erection of the pole in City Hall Park. It was further moved that plans and estimates for a pole and base be secured.
"On Saturday, November 21st, the Committee in a body waited upon the Mayor by appointment to ask his cooperation. The Mayor expressed himself as in favor of the proposed memorial and his services in its aid were assured. The proposed Liberty Pole is to be erected without cost to the City of New York. It was also urged upon the Mayor to effect the removal of the old Post Office building and restore the City Hall Park to its original dimensions, which included the land on which the post office building now stands. The land was conveyed to the Federal Government by the City of New York in December, 1866, and the deed recorded on April 16, 1867, for a consideration of $500,000. The Mayor, in reply, stated that he hoped the Federal Government would accept a site in the Civic Centre of the City in exchange for the present site of the old Post Office building.
"Under date of December 5th, 1919, the West Coast Lumbermen's Association kindly offered the Society a Douglas Fir flag pole to range from 150 to 340 feet, delivered free to this city, with the compliments of that association.