Revolutionary War Monument Dedication Speeches
The process for bringing conceived Revolutionary War battlefield monuments to fruition often took many long years. A victory monument at Yorktown, commemorating the success of the American patriots over the British in the last major land battle of the Revolutionary War, was approved by the Continental Congress in October 1781 but not begun for a century. Speaking at the 1881 cornerstone laying ceremony was Robert C. Winthrop, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and descendent of Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop. In his riveting and lengthy oration recounting events leading up to the Patriot victory at Yorktown, Winthrop even drew direct quotes from Revolutionary figures involved. For his 1881 audience, to whom the wounds of Civil War were still fresh, Winthrop endeavored to repaint this Revolutionary scene, with an emphasis on Union and country. We must look at these monuments through dual lenses — the era they remember and the era in which they were dedicated.