Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Dewey's arch as it looked in 1900
The location of Dewey's arch as it looks today
The Dewey Arch
George Dewey 1837-1917
The arch was used in many advertisements
It was massive, monstrous and just too big for it's own good. That was Dewey's arch. Constructed for the hero of Manila Bay. There are not words to convey to the reader of today what Dewey meant to everyone. He returned to the United States in 1899....A STAR!!!!! Maybe that is even too small a word to use...He was a galaxy!!
Sheet music was made with his likeness on it....When in stores there were no shortage of George Dewey things...Such as soap, coats, hats, canes, teething rings, and just about everything else you can mention. Framed pictures could be had for 50 cents and they sold by the tens of thousands! He received a solid gold sword from President McKinley. Awards, degrees, plaques, honorariums, a house from the citizen's of the country, and the absolute respect of the American people who were in LOVE with Admiral George Dewey.
The greatest showing of adoration for the Admiral was the great Dewey Arch in New York City. It was just a showing of all the love and admiration the people had for their Admiral. He was a widower and the country liked it that way. In a sense America and its people became his girlfriend or wife.
As it often happens to people who are not well equipped to deal with such a situation....The Admiral got the Presidential political bug! He was not equipped to handle the office. But he scared the daylights out of all the other candidates for 1900. McKinley and Bryan.....But the the house of Dewey started to sink like the Spanish navy he and his crew had destroyed.....He got married!!!!!!!
The entire country had a fit...They were George Dewey's bride...His new wife was Roman Catholic to boot! So the entire country felt jilted! It was an age when Roman Catholics were looked on with dislike. It was a bigoted age.
Then it was found that the house he was given, was to be given by him to his wife. This drove everyone crazy. I think the idea of his glory had gone to his head.He started to get pompous.
Then he finished the job by speaking so stupidly about the office of the President and he addressed the world and gave his understandings of the Presidency............
In which he said....
"If the American people want me for this high office, I shall be
only too willing to serve them. It is the highest honor in the
gift of this nation; what citizen would refuse it? Since studying
this subject, I am convinced that the office of the President is
not such a very difficult one to fill, his duties being mainly to
execute the laws of the Congress. Should I be chosen for this
exalted position I would execute the laws of Congress as
faithfully as I have always executed the orders of my superiors."
What the heck was he thinking??????? Not a difficult office to fill? No matter who you are you never say I looked at the job and see it is an easy one to fill! Everyone laughed at him. All the political power brokers quickly moved away from him. The man who one year before was like a Galaxy to everyone, was now a black hole.
No one gave Dewey another thought.....
The coats, hats, canes, stopped selling. Even the teething rings stopped selling. Lastly the Dewey Arch which was just a temporary structure was torn down in 1901. It was never replicated in stone. By 1900 he was just another historical has been. In fact he had been eclipsed by another figure who would come to represent the 20th century. None other than Theodore Roosevelt.
Dewey vanished pretty much from the public scene and finally died in January of 1917. Just as the United States was ready to enter a new war. But the age of great hero's that were almost gods seemed to vanish as did the old soldiers of the 19th century. But he became the last figure that anyone made a massive arch for.
So as I walk around 5th Ave and 24th Street I walked and looked. Nothing remains of the Dewey Arch..Just the few monuments and statues that were there when the Dewey Arch was new. Those are the Worth Memorial and the Lincoln Statue on 5th Ave. It was on this street I took the picture of the area now.