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    Angel of Peace

    East Rock Monument A Brief History of the Angel of Peace and the
    New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

    The story of the Angel of Peace is just one strand of the larger story of the New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, on top of which the Angel once sat and will soon sit again.

    Following the Civil War, towns and cities across America, still aching from the conflict that had just ravaged the nation, were adamant in paying tribute to the countrymen who had sacrificed their lives for the preservation of the Union.  Monuments to the Civil War rose up everywhere the effects of the fighting had been felt.  In New Haven, the sentiment was little different.  The war had exacted a dreadful toll, and citizens hoped to ensure peace for the generations to come.

    The initiative to erect a war memorial in New Haven began in 1878, when the Admiral Foote Post of the Grand Army of the Republic started persuading citizens that a monument was needed.  The G.A.R. was a Civil War veterans’ organization, and the local Admiral Foote Post was named after Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, a New Haven native who had served with distinction as a commander for the Union navy.  It was not until 1882—four years later—that the City approved a special committee and a budget of $50,000 for the construction of a Civil War monument in New Haven.  Later, in February of 1884, the committee would decide that the monument was to be built in East Rock Park. Andrew Hull Foote

    Almost immediately, the committee received proposals from a variety of sculptors and architects from far and wide.  Planners from New Haven, Hartford, Boston, and even Italy expressed an interest in designing the Elm City’s war memorial.  The winning design was submitted by architects John M. Moffitt and Alexander Doyle of New York City in the fall of 1883—after the deadline had expired.  Officials on the committee, however, campaigned to have the Moffitt & Doyle design considered.  In 1885, after two years of intense debate and deliberation, the $50,000 contract was finally awarded to Moffitt & Doyle.  The New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument could now be built.

    Construction began on June 17, 1886.  Because the monument was located on top of East Rock, Moffitt & Doyle insisted that the final product should be a large, imposing structure visible from miles away.  Their design was an exemplar of the neoclassical school of architecture so prevalent in the 19th century, rich with allegorical and historical allusions.  The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument consists of a square pedestal and a vertical granite shaft, culminating with the 11-foot, 5,000-pound bronze Angel of Peace at the top.  The faces of the pedestal feature bronze bas-relief sculptures depicting scenes from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, respectively.  On the four corners of the pedestal sit four different bronze ladies: Patriotism, Victory, Prosperity, and History. 

    The monument was built by the New Haven firm of Smith & Sperry.  The granite came down from Maine, and the bronze was brought in from Massachusetts and New York City.  Construction proceeded without major incident, and exactly one year to the day after the cornerstone was laid, the New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument was ready for dedication.

    Dedication Invitation The dedication ceremony of June 17, 1887 was one of the livelier events in the Elm City’s history.  As many as 175,000 spectators lined the streets to watch as a parade of 20,000 people marched by, among them men, women, children, and several military divisions.  General William Tecumseh Sherman and General Philip Henry Sheridan, both men heroes of the Civil War, were guests of honor.  Music, fireworks, and general revelry made the day a memorable celebration.  Visitors from out of town were brought in on a train that stretched 85 cars long.

    The Angel of Peace, the crowning majesty of the New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, is an enduring symbol of the hope for peace and harmony in the world, and she is also true icon of New Haven.  With the passage of time, she has come to memorialize not only the Civil War, but every conflict in which Americans have given their lives for their country.  We are proud to celebrate her restoration by broadcasting your wishes for the world.

    We hope you will join us in welcoming the fully-restored Angel of Peace back to her perch in the near future!

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