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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
Vol. 51 No. 2 (Summer 1958), pp127‑148

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a tall stone column, well over 30 meters high, on a flaring stone masonry base with a door in it, set in a small park. It is a view of the Stephen A. Douglas Monument in Chicago, Illinois.]

Herbert Georg Photo

The Stephen A. Douglas Monument
— by Leonard W. Volk.

p127 Illinois' Oldest Memorial:
The Stephen A. Douglas Monument

Joseph L. Eisendrath, Jr.

Perhaps Leonard Volk never dreamed that his beloved monument to Stephen A. Douglas would some day be visible to Chicagoans hurrying through the dark hours of the night. When the final bronze bas-relief was set into place in 1881, the electric light was merely a curiosity — only a few years had passed since it had been revealed to the public at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Each night in this atomic era the monument is sharply outlined in the dark by a battery of spotlights.

Douglas' beloved "Oakenwald" of fifty-three acres has become a pleasant little park of two and one-fifth acres today. Douglas himself sleeps within the beautiful structure, and yet few of the people who pass by know what the monument is or how it came to be. Even the Illinois State Division of Parks and Memorials which is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance does not have available all of its past history, and the information presented here will be new to many public servants.

p128 On the other hand, however, a visitor to the park can have a pleasant custodian answer most of the superficial questions concerning the monument. This man lives with his family in a small cottage within the park. A register is maintained for visitors, who may receive a little leaflet outlining the story of the tomb in four short pages.

The information contained in this article comes from three scrapbooks put together by Leonard Wells Volk, distinguished artist, sculptor and a relative by marriage to the Douglas family (his wife was a cousin to Douglas). In 1880, just before the project was finally completed, he published a 124‑page, paper-bound history of the monument with a sketch of the life of Douglas. The writer owns these scrapbooks (which, incidentally, are jammed full of art news of Chicago, from 1859 to 1887 — and include much news of the Chicago Academy of Design, forerunner of today's Art Institute of Chicago; Volk was its first president). It appears that all the material used in Volk's book came from his clippings and letters in these scrapbooks. Much of his book is not of interest in this article, but quite a bit of the Douglas Monument material in the scrapbooks was not used by him, and will serve as the source of what follows here. This statement about sources is made to explain the lack of footnotes, for those who wish to pursue this study further.

Douglas, long a public servant, and at the time of his death Senator from Illinois, passed away at Chicago's Tremont House at 9:10 P.M. on Monday, June 3, 1861, after having been ill for about four weeks. The cause of death was indicated to be some form of typhoid fever. As was befitting a man of his renown, a huge public funeral followed. The body was embalmed so well that when it p129was removed to the present tomb several years later, it was found to be in a remarkable state of preservation. The funeral was conducted by the Roman Catholic bishop, and Masonic ceremonies were held at the grave. The funeral procession was about two miles long. The burial was at a spot known as Cottage Grove, owned by Douglas, just at the southern outskirts of Chicago at Lake Michigan, about four and one-half miles from the City Hall. The location today is west of the Illinois Central Railway right-of‑way, just south of Third-Second Street. After burial, the grave site, a sandy area, was surrounded by a rude board fence which remained but a short time. Mrs. Adele Cutts Douglas, the widow, had wanted her husband buried in Washington, D. C., but Governor Richard Yates of Illinois prevailed on her to change her mind.

In 1849, Douglas had purchased a tract of fifty-three acres which he named Oakenwald. This area included wooded potential farmland facing the lake in what is today the p130northern end to Oakwood-Kenwood district of Chicago. When the old Chicago University was organized shortly thereafter, he became its first president. In 1856 he deeded ten of these acres as a site for its campus. The remaining part Douglas called "Cottage Grove." At a cost of about $1,200, he had built a one-story, light brown frame cottage, and had lived there several years with his first wife. The cottage was built in a grove of trees in the south half of the tract. Its style of architecture was mixed. A contemporary writer called it a "Swiss Country Cottage house." Some time around 1885, after the monument grounds were established, Volk moved the cottage to what is now known as Woodland Park, next to the present memorial site. The grove itself was a square of twenty-five acres, surrounded by board fences, with stiles in the north and southeast corners, and with a gateway in front of the cottage on the west. The entire grove was filled with black and white oaks, except for three barren acres at the southeast corner, and its surface showed swells and ridges, with small mudless valleys. A garden, about an acre in size, was near the cottage. Later, when Volk moved his family into the cottage, a small wooden studio was built adjacent to it on the south.

To move ahead of the story a bit, a mortgage of $50,000 was placed on part of the property in July, 1859. On April 12, 1860, the mortgage was renewed and increased by $10,000 with additional security given, and the whole property covered. The mortgage was foreclosed on November 21, 1863. At the time of the foreclosure $83,963.33 was owing. The property was sold in single lots for $83,160 with James R. Smith, the mortgage holder, being the main buyer. The sale was subject to redemption within fifteen p131months, but I do not believe this property ever came back to the control of the Douglas family.

The prison camp named after Douglas was built during the war years.a Part of the ground it occupied had been used as a fairgrounds before the Civil War. The Cottage Grove property as described above was adjacent to the prison grounds, but was not disturbed by the growing land needs of the camp.

The grave of Douglas was placed near the southeast corner of the grove, on a swell six to eight feet high, and one hundred twenty feet from the lake. It was surrounded by a maroon paling twenty-five feet long on each of four sides, light boards supported by four posts. Shortly after the burial, landscaping was added. A two-foot walk in a perfect circle enclosed a star, all in pebbles. The grave was in the center. A few small evergreen shrubs were planted along the paling. All work was done by the neighbors. The grave was in the track of a primitive highway, a stage road leading to the east along the lake shore.

[image ALT: A drawing of a square fenced garden about 8 meters on a side, with a fir tree at each corner, and within, inside a circular path, the design of a star marked on the ground, each point marked by a fir sapling no more than 75 cm high. It is a contemporary view of the original burial site of Stephen A. Douglas in Chicago, Illinois.]

A contemporary drawing of the original burial site of Stephen A. Douglas.

In September, 1861, Volk was authorized by Mrs. Douglas to be custodian of the grave. Apparently some better form of memorial had been discussed — she noted in a letter, dated July 25, that Volk apparently was quite active in organizing a committee to do this, for a public letter appeared in the papers on October 19, calling a "meeting of gentlemen interested in providing an efficient organization for the erection of a suitable monument." Besides Volk, J. W. Sheahan, S. W. Fuller, S. H. Kerfoot, W. C. Goudy, Thomas Drummond, David A. Gage and J. P. Clarkson signed the call.

The meeting, held at the Tremont House on October 22, favored popular participation with subscriptions limited p132to one dollar a person. One hundred to one hundred fifty thousand dollars was to be the approximate cost. A committee was set up to carry on, and besides Volk, Goudy, Fuller and Sheahan it included John M. Wilson, H. G. Miller, and J. M. Rountree.

Organization progressed rapidly. On November 1, the committee favored incorporating "The Douglas Monument Association," under an act of the state legislature. Volk's plan for a board of eighteen trustees and dollar contributors was adopted. This was quickly effected (although the legislature delayed the incorporating until February 11, 1863) and on December 5, Walter B. Scates was named president, Thomas B. Bryan and Goudy vice-presidents, Gage the treasurer and Volk secretary. An executive committee and the eighteen trustees were also chosen.

The Association went right to work. An office was rented, furniture and stationery purchased. A special engraving for diplomas to dollar donors was ordered. Pamphlets and circulars were printed. A sales organization of agents and agencies was set up. But then the program ran into a snag. Too many people declined to contribute, claiming the money should go to relief for soldiers and not for monuments. Most agents gave up because they could not meet their expenses. To make matters worse a parallel campaign by the Chicago University for a "Douglas Monument" hampered fund raising. This letter project was a tower for the school, and the confusion of identity stopped many a contribution. In the meantime it became increasingly difficult to maintain the grave. Public appeals were made in the papers for trespassers not to desecrate the spot. People visiting the prison camp, veteran reserve soldiers, and people from all over the North came and p133left their scratchings on the fence. Editorials on the subject appeared frequently. The Association therefore had its hands full and was just about able to maintain its status quo. Collection activity barely moved along.

Matters continued in this fashion until May 22, 1863, when it was decided to seek state assistance. A letter was addressed to members of the legislature asking them to appropriate $25,000 to buy the land, and $50,000 to build a monument. The officers were joined in this appeal by the bishop and the mayor of Chicago.

The trustees must have been confident the measure would pass, since they met on January 23, 1864 and authorized a competition for designs for a monument not to cost more than $50,000. A sum of $75 was to be awarded for the winning design which was to be chosen on March 25.

It seems that some activity of this sort was necessary because of public displeasure at no apparent action by the Association. A letter in the Tribune of July 17, 1863 indicates that "subscribers . . . who have long since paid their money to the officers of the association, would be glad to see a statement . . . showing the amount of receipts and expenditures." The writer could see no improvement at the grave and thought that idle money, if any, should be put to work. Volk, in his scrapbook, says the letter's author was T. J. S. Flint.

The Board of Trustees met next on April 23, 1864. Volk had submitted the only design, and it was not accepted. The next meeting in July found two designs at hand — a revamped model (which was later destroyed in the great Chicago Fire) being presented by Volk and a new design represented by a model from Schureman & Melick. Volk's was accepted by a seven-to‑one vote. Mrs. Douglas had p134also written of her approval of the Volk design. The Tribune of the next morning describes it as follows:

[The Monument] is to be one hundred feet high, made of marble, limestone and bronze. The base is to be circular and 52 feet in diameter. The sepulchre, in which the remains of Douglas will be placed, and over which the monument is to be erected, will be 20 feet square; rising above the sepulchre will be a pedestal and composite column, the height of both of which will be 65 feet. Placed upon the top of the column, standing upon the globe, will be a bronze statue of Douglas 12 feet high. Surrounding the sepulchre will be four seated symbolical figures, representing Illinois holding a medallion of Douglas, America, History and Fame — the four figures being the size of life. Just above these figures there will be four bas reliefs on the base of the pedestal, one on each side, illustrating the progress of civilization in the West. The pedestal and the column will be appropriately ornamented with various devices.


[image ALT: A pen and ink drawing of a statue of a middle-aged man in a 19c frock coat with his right hand tucked into it. It is the statue of Stephen A. Douglas on the Douglas Monument in Chicago, Illinois.]
	(p135)

Douglas Volk's drawing of the statue his father made for the Douglas Monument.

Nationwide publicity followed this meeting. Harper's Weekly of October 1, 1864 ran an article about the monument and published a larger engraving of Volk's design. This sort of public notice and some judicious prodding started the enabling bill through the legislature. By February 3, 1865, the finance committee of the House made two reports: The majority report suggested no action until the Civil War had ended; the minority said that $25,000 should be appropriated to buy the ground from Mrs. Douglas. (Apparently this particular land was not covered by the mortgage mentioned above.)

[image ALT: A lithogravure of a tall stone column, well over 30 meters high, on a flaring stone masonry base with a door in it, in turn set on a stepped circular platform. It is an architect's conceptual design of the Stephen A. Douglas Monument in Chicago, Illinois.]

Drawing of Volk's original model of the Douglas Monument, which was published in Harpers Weekly, October 1, 1864.

However, the bill came up and, in spite of the adverse majority report, passed on February 13. The bill quickly became a law. On March 6, Mrs. Douglas transmitted a deed to Lot One to Richard J. Oglesby, Governor of Illinois, who sent her a draft on New York for $25,000 on p136April 5. The two and one-fifth acre lot was never to be used for any purpose other than as a burial ground.

This action served as a prod to the public to resume its support. Newspapers reported additional contributions, such as $25 from Excelsior Lodge No. 97, A. F. & A. M., Freeport, Illinois. (Tribune, May 10.) The Association issued a public report of finances, indicating that up to February 13, 1865 it had received $7,510.94 (including $210 interest). It had spent $3,895.29, leaving a balance of cash of $3,615.65, a gain of fifty per cent since the previous report — all of the gain had come from the sale of pictures at the grave. The report showed that, besides cash, the Association had been deeded two lots near the grave worth about $3,000. These lots were donated by Douglas' mother and sister. The report indicated agents in different parts of the country probably also had funds yet to be accounted for. The 3,062 members of the Association were divided into 2,805 "dollar" members, seven honorary members of the executive board and 250 honorary members, 232 of the latter being editors who had been given memberships in exchange for publicity.

Pressure to start construction continued. It became necessary to explain, through the newspapers, that the committee did not have enough funds to proceed but that a foundation would be started with the funds on hand. The Association earlier in 1866 had authorized Volk to locate the monument site. In 1855 Douglas had pointed out to Volk the place where he had hoped to build a permanent residence and this was the spot Volk selected for the memorial. On May 31, 1866 the Association met at the Tremont House. Two members announced they had collected $600 and would make it $1,000. Isaac R. Diller pledged to raise $1,000. p137The committee assessed itself $25 for each member. By July they were able to announce that $10,000 was on hand.

The building committee (Mayor F. C. Sherman, John B. Turner and D. A. Gage) then swung into action and invitations to submit bids were sent out. Six sealed bids were received. The lowest was for $10,700 for the construction of the foundations and a tomb of Indiana limestone, and work was to begin immediately.

A special committee for the cornerstone-laying ceremonies had met on May 9, 1866 at the Garrett Block, new home of the Association. Many ideas were proposed. The Masons were to be invited to provide refreshments. Medallions were to be created for the ceremony. An amateur musical concert at Crosby's Opera House would raise money. The date of dedication was to be set. A banquet committee for that evening was to be created. Railroads were to be asked to set up excursion round trips at one and one-fifth fares. Private carriages were to be loaned. Public offices would be closed for the day. It might be noted that on March 22, Secretary of State Seward had been invited to speak, but because of the attempt on his life the year before, his health would not permit a definite promise to appear as early as May or June. Then Governor Richard J. Oglesby was invited to deliver the oration, and the date was set for June 13. Caustic comments appeared in the Chicago Times on the impropriety of his accepting the invitation, Oglesby being a Republican and Douglas having been a Democrat. On May 28, in a letter to the committee, Oglesby discreetly declined the offer, pleading a previous engagement at Salem on the designated day. Then a committee of Thomas Hoyne and James H. Bowen was sent to Washington to invite President Andrew Johnson and his Cabinet to appear at p138ceremonies on July 4, with General John A. Dix to be the orator. On June 3, a telegram announced that these people had accepted, but that they could not come on July 4. On August 9, it was announced that the date was definitely set for September 6.

Next, a special committee began to function. Reports were made. All but two railroads had been seen. The one and one-fifth fare for a round trip was satisfactory. White metal badges at ten to fifteen cents each could be bought. The banquet idea was abandoned, with a presidential reception at the Rink as a substitute. It was reported that more than 800 invitations had been sent out. Various other badges were to be sold at $1 and $2. A committee headed by Volk was appointed to gather articles for the cornerstone.

The invitation of Johnson evoked much comment and criticism. The political implications were cussed and discussed. In May, 1860 Johnson had tried in the Senate to rule Douglas out as a presidential candidate before the Charleston convention. How could he be expected now to eulogize him? On the other hand, political differences were to be buried while honoring a great patriot who had worked with political opponents after the outbreak of war. So the editorial comment went.

The Chicago Post, on August 18, indicated that the first section of the monument was practically completed. The structure was seventeen feet high. The base, with its steps and platform, was done, and the sepulchre was ready for the sarcophagus, or receptacle for the coffin. A speaker's stand was about to be erected with a press box for sixty reporters.

On August 20, the Chicago Times reported that Major p139General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Meade would be there, and that all the city's Masonic lodges would be represented. On the 28th several papers listed the proposed contents of the cornerstone: There would be copies of the Association charter and records, all sorts of information about Douglas, including his photograph, coins of the period and paper currency, newspapers and magazines, directories of Chicago, charter of the Chicago Historical Society and an autographed letter of Douglas'. The copper box to hold all this would be fourteen inches long by ten inches wide and eight inches high and would be publicly displayed in a store window.

One curious result of the preparations was the wide guesses as to the cost of holding the dedication. The arrangements committee heard estimates ranging from $3,000 to $50,000. Finally, David A. Gage, who was to be chief marshal at the event, assumed responsibility for payment of anything over $5,000. He never had to make good.

All this time the committee felt that the Association should capitalize financially on the occasion. Fifteen hundred seats were to be set up in front of the speakers' stand at $3.00 each. John C. Corbett and George W. Watson, local photographers, were licensed to take pictures and sell them, with a portion of their receipts to go to the monument fund. Tin boxes for contributions were to be placed in all the hotels and public places. Five thousand medals, discussed above, were to be sold. The same number of counterfeit medals, sent from New York, were to add to the confusion and were to fool many who thought the fund would benefit from their purchases.

President Johnson and his entourage, "swingin' round the circle," arrived as scheduled on the day before the event. Johnson responded briefly to a welcoming speech by Mayor p140John B. Rice from a balcony of the Sherman House.

The great day arrived. Early in the morning, Chicago's streets were filled with thousands of people. The various societies with their marching bands fell into place for the long parade from the courthouse to the monument. It was estimated that almost 100,000 people came to Chicago that day. The weather was overcast and threatening, which kept down the procession. Shortly after 10 A.M. President Johnson got into his carriage and the parade began.

It seems that practically every organized group in Chicago marched in that parade. There were the police, the marshals, the distinguished guests (besides the mayor, Seward and Welles, were Generals Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant, Rawlins, Dix, Meade, Custer, Steelman and Rousseau, with Admiral Farragut, Admiral Radford and Lieutenant McKinley from the Navy), the workers of the Monument Association, all the Masonic organizations, aldermen and mayors from nearby cities, soldiers from various Illinois units, the Irish societies, the French society, temperance groups, trade unions, various religious groups, singing societies, butchers, Turnverein and just plain citizens.

By noon the end of the parade arrived at the monument. Flowers, urns, bunting and flags covered the grave and the monument. A new marble bust by Volk was exhibited in front of the grave. Mayor Rice opened the ceremonies, followed by the Masonic Grand Master, and the Masonic Grand Chaplain performed the cornerstone-laying ceremony. A revenue cutter offshore fired a minute gun, the bands played dirges, and it started to rain. As the cornerstone was lowered, the sun came out. Then a prayer was given by the Rev. William H. Milburn, and Dix began his oration, which was long, and which in the main was a p141biography of Douglas. Next came the President, who gave a simple little speech of about 350 words, which received great applause. Secretary Seward followed and, too, was quite brief. Then all the other great men were introduced and applauded, and the affair broke up.

In the evening there followed the concert at the opera house, but people were disappointed at the nonappearance of Johnson.

Volk soon afterward reported gross receipts of $11,673.41 for the day, but this included the $6,500 raised previously by the finance committee. Seat sales had brought in $3,581, the concert about $1,000. Medal sales were brisk, realizing $454.20. The photographers, apparently, didn't do too well — they contributed only $20.35. Later, after final returns came in, it was found necessary to draw on the Association to make up a deficit of $1,304.69.

Again matters quieted down and eighteen months passed with the Association's showing little public activity. The monument foundation was completed as far as had been contracted for, and was now ready to receive the remains of Douglas. On May 14, 1868 the Association sent invitations to attend this ceremony scheduled for June 3, the anniversary of the death of Douglas. Tickets for the ceremony were sold at twenty-five cents each: Buyers of four tickets would receive a diploma of life membership in the Association. Purchasers of two tickets could buy the medal previously issued for the cornerstone. Apparently many had remained unsold.

The metallic casket was conveyed by the trustees to the tomb, as the Germania Maennerchor sang a hymn. A prayer by Dr. Joseph Haven followed. For the next two days the public was permitted to view the well-preserved features of p142Douglas through the glass cover of the casket.

The sarcophagus in the monument is seven feet long, of white Vermont marble, set four feet high.b Douglas' name and the dates of his birth and death are on the front in raised letters. On the base appear the Senator's last words, "Tell my children to obey the laws and uphold the Constitution."

That day, June 5, it was announced intention papers that the Association would seek a $50,000 appropriation from the state legislature to finish the work. The report said $14,000 had been spent thus far, and that $66,000 more would be needed. That left $16,000 to be raised publicly, if the legislature approved the $50,000

In January, 1869 a memorial was forwarded to the legislature asking for the $50,000. This amount was reduced to $25,000. The bill passed the House of Representatives but was defaultedº since the Senate adjourned before action was taken.

More time passed. The newspapers waxed sarcastic that nothing more had been done. An article in the Post on May 9, 1870 indicated that the masonry on the unfinished monument had cracked because of freezing water: "The fence is not fit for a cowyard; the grounds are shabby and uncared-for; and generally the aspect of the enterprise is altogether unlovely — a visible and instructive lesson to all politicians, which they would do well to heed." The Times the next day commented in a similar vein, and the Republican also said something should be done. Probably the officers of the Association were responsible for this "spontaneous needling."

When the Association met on December 7, it was suggested that the monument be removed to the grounds of p143Chicago University. The trustees decided to try the legislature once again before doing that. A letter from Mrs. Douglas was read. It urged them to do something or remove the monument.

But matters again dragged. On April 11, 1873 another attempt was made to get the legislature to pass the bill. It passed the House again, but was defeated by the Senate in the winter of 1874. At the time the bill was submitted a financial statement accompanied it, and said that up to January, 1871, a total of $21,580.80 had been raised — $2,586.40 by subscription, $8.137.32 by sales of photos and diplomas, $3,581 from seat sales, $1,006.08 from the concert and $6,000 from the sale of two lots, each 120 by 50 feet. All had been spent but $29.10, most of it having gone to the building contractors.

A sidelight at this time is an advertisement appearing in the Tribune (December 27, 1874) offering the Douglas cottage for rent, with possession May 1, 1875 — for a long term. Volk, apparently, was no longer to be the custodian. On May 20, 1877 it was still for rent!

On December 31, 1874, Judge Scates drafted a new bill for the House of Representatives to remove and complete the monument. About the same time, a bill for $50,000 to complete the monument was introduced in the Senate. This latter bill failed quickly, lacking five votes of a majority. The removal bill failed as well.

Since the Illinois legislature meets biennially the sponsors had to wait two years to reintroduce the bill, which again asked for $50,000. This was done in February, 1877. This time the same bill was introduced simultaneously in both houses. On March 23, it passed the House 81 to 40, which was four votes over the required number, and on May 16 p144passed the Senate. The Times, in a headline of May 9, indicated, "Members of the House discover that passing a bill is the only way to get rid of it." Governor Cullom signed it into law on May 22 to become effective July 1. Robert T. Lincoln, Potter Palmer and Melville W. Fuller were appointed as a commission to complete the monument and in July, 1877 advertised for bids on the additional work.

The commissioners met at the Palmer House on July 2. Volk had been requested to submit his designs for the monument. The original model having been lost in the 1871 fire, he resubmitted his ideas with some modifications. On July 7 they met again, and a considerable discussion Volk was asked to submit a proposal on the statuary needed. Shortly thereafter a contract was made with Volk to superintend the work on the monument. Although this contract allowed him $500, he subsequently rebated $200.

Separate bids were asked for work on the walls, sidewalks, and limestone or sandstone coping. The limestone work, consisting of the copings, sidewalk and terrace wall (along the Illinois Central Railroad right-of‑way) was let shortly afterward to Crilly & Robinson whose price was $4,984. This work was minor and was finished in sixty days. On July 28, 1877 bids from nine firms and individuals were opened at a meeting of the commission in the United States Courthouse. Curiously enough, Leonard Volk was a bidder for the coping work. The wall granite work contract was awarded to the Hindsdale-Doyle Granite Company for $15,800. The other awards were not made at the meeting, which, incidentally, marked the withdrawal of Robert T. Lincoln, who was succeeded by Senator Lyman Trumbull. This change was satisfactory to the Tribune as evidenced in a "letter" on August 4.

p145 In October, Volk was awarded $8,000 for a nine-foot, nine-inch bronze statue of Douglas to be set on top of the shaft. The commission found it necessary to remove the limestone tomb built twelve years before, and to make minor changes. This meant another bidding. Six contractors sought the work and, on the last day of 1877, J. H. Anderson of the American Granite Works won the award for $7,893. May 1, 1878 was the target date for completion. A new item of the Times on April 15, 1878 reviewed the history of the project, and indicated that $3,000 to $5,000 was to be expended in improving the grounds. All these contracts, therefore, would total about $43,000, leaving $7,000 as a reserve.

On July 14, the capstone of the column was complete and Volk's newly finished statue was hoisted into position. At an informal ceremony on July 17 about one thousand people (700 to 800 according to one paper) braved a scorching July morning to hear Judge John D. Caton talk about Douglas and his place in American history. Among the dignitaries at the ceremony was Mrs. Julius N. Granger of Clifton Springs, New York, Douglas' eldest sister.

On August 7, Volk was given a contract to execute the four heroic bronze statues at each corner of the tomb. These were to represent "Justice," "History," "Illinois," and "Eloquence" were to be at least seven feet high. May 1, 1879 was set for delivery and Volk was to be paid $6,500.

The commissioners, in their annual report to the governor, telling of the progress of the work, indicated that the cost of the Volk contract and extra expense for rebuilding the tomb (substituting granite for limestone) would result in deficit financing, that they would therefore need $9,000 p146beyond the $50,000 appropriated. Early in the winter of 1879, after the Governor had agreed to recommend it, a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by Moses Wentworth. After a short time it was passed. A similar bill in the Senate was defeated on April 8, 1879 by 22 to 21, after several desperate attempts by Senator Daniel N. Bash of Chicago to push it through. However, the House bill that had passed still had to be voted on by the Senate. It was brought up on May 27 and passed.

Therefore, on July 24, the Commission advertised for bids to finish the granite work, listing minor changes in the steps. A bid of $3,925 won the award. This particular work was completed by March, 1880.

Three of Volk's four statues were completed and put in place as fast as he finished them. "Illinois" was there on July 22, 1879, and "History" followed on September 28. "Justice" was set up on December 30. However, Volk still had a bit of work to do. Earlier in the year, on March 1, he had contracted to supply four bas-reliefs for panels on the main base of the monument for $1,200 each, or $4,800. By April 25, 1880 he had finished the last of the clay models for these. Within a week the first, an Indian scene, was cast into bronze and installed. Two of the other three (Pioneer Settlers, Commerce and Enterprise, and Education) followed within a few days. On May 13, the last of the statues, "Eloquence," was set into place. Only one bas-relief was left to place. Volk and the last contractor apparently had difficulty in receiving final payment. The two years allowed for the spending of the $9,000 appropriation had run out, and it became necessary to introduce a new bill to reappropriate the balance of $4,798 needed to pay them off. It passed the Senate April 8, 1881, after it p147had been approved by the House, and was signed into law by the Governor on April 12.

Agitation to move the monument to a south side park was mentioned in an article in the Inter-Ocean on August 9, 1881. Volk was interviewed and suggested it be left where it was. He announced that the last bas-relief, "Education," was about ready to be installed, which prompted all the newspapers to feature stories about the history of the monument.

Finally, on August 18, 1881, "Education" took her placec and the project was finished — just exactly twenty years after it had been conceived. No public ceremony took place — no more money remained to be spent. The commissioners made their final accounting, were discharged from their trust, and the state took over maintenance of the tomb. A total of $96,350 had been spent for the memorial itself, besides the costs of the Association. The state had paid $84,000 by appropriations, $6,000 came from proceeds of the donation of two lots, and the rest was paid for by the public.

In the years since 1881, several major repair jobs have been made when needed. As an example, in 1901, $3,500 was appropriated. Major repairs occurred in the period between July 1, 1955 and June 30, 1957 when the state spent $34,621. In comparison, the previous two years, July 1, 1953 to June 30, 1955, showed only $6,828 spent.

Major repairs were made in 1954. Vandals had broken the head off the Douglas bust within the tomb. The grounds received a major going-over, with much refuse such as liquor bottles being cleaned out. New steel gates were placed at the entrance to the tomb, and the monument received a thorough cleaning and tuck pointing.

p148 The present caretaker receives $242 per month (less $20 for utilities). The Division of Parks and Memorials, which cares for the monument, says ten to fifteen years often go by without any major maintenance. The Division also claims that the Douglas Monument is Illinois' oldest state memorial. This is probably right — the Illinois State Historical Library can't find an older one.

Shortly, gigantic apartment buildings and recreational facilities will be erected in the general neighborhood of the monument, where a large area of old dwellings and commercial buildings has been razed. As they go up, someone may again suggest that the monument be moved. But, in the meantime, the Little Giant sleeps peacefully.


Thayer's Notes:

a The prison camp became the subject of its own 27‑page illustrated article by this same author two years later; it too is onsite.

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b For photographs of the sarcophagus, as well as of the monument, its statues and bas-reliefs, see my three gazetteer pages ("Douglas Monument" in the footer bar below).

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c The fourth panel, as I saw it in 2009, does not represent "Education" at all, however. It very clearly shows Douglas himself chairing some kind of political meeting, most likely in the U. S. Senate; the two small children with their mother, seated off to one side of the otherwise all-adult, all-male proceedings, may conceivably be a nod to education, but even that seems stretching it.


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