It may be hard to believe that, until Saturday, October 8, 2011, there was no monument in the United States that recognized the contributions of Scottish Immigrants. Of course, monuments abound to individual Scots like Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Andrew Carnegie. In fact, I believe there are more monuments to Robert Burns in the world than to any other person.
To rectify this situation, around 2003-4, a proposal was circulated by then President, John F. McDonald, Jr., among members of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia (www.StAndrewSociety.org), a philanthropic organization of men of Scottish descent founded in 1747 to aid Scottish immigrants in distress, that the Society should raise the funds for such a monument to be erected in Philadelphia, which was one of the major points of entry of Scots in the 17th and 18th century. The current philanthropic purpose of the Society is to raise funds to send 6 area juniors to Scottish universities for a year and bring one from St. Andrew’s University to the University of Pennsylvania on $18,000 scholarships. This program has been in existence since 1958.
The Society had some prior history with monuments as a former president, R. Tait McKenzie, was a world renowned sculptor who sculpted the Scottish American War Memorial, ‘The Call’, located in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, in 1927. McKenzie, a Scottish Canadian, was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and his most famous sculpture was ‘the Ideal Scout’ or ‘The Boy Scout’, copies of which sit outside many US Boy Scout headquarters.
Fortunately, we also had a well known sculptor in our Society, Terry Jones (www.terryjones sculpture.com), and he agreed to design and sculpt an appropriate monument to Scottish Immigrants, a body to which he, himself, belonged through his mother, Doris May MacDonald. Once Society approval was received, fundraising began under my tenure as Society President, 2005-7. The target was $750,000, which was to be raised mainly from our membership which stood at ~480- quite a challenge. Fortunately, two of our members , Robert Lincoln McNeil, Jr. and Esther Ann McFarland, wife of our deceased member, Cdr. George C. McFarland, USN, rose to the challenge and between them donated approximately half the funds needed. I believe it is safe to say that without their contributions there would be no monument.
Although we had not quite reached our goal, being about $30K short, we decided to dedicate the monument this year in the not unreasonable expectation that the remaining funds would be forthcoming. The actual amount required is larger than that mentioned due to cost overruns on installation and donations are still being gratefully received. In fact, the Society is selling named bricks on the walkway in front of the monument for donations of $500 and quartz pavers , 2’x2’ for $2,500. Anyone interested in participating should contact the Society’s Secretary for further information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first important decision that had to be made was to find a suitable location for the monument. After approaching the City about several possibilities, it was agreed to site it at Penn’s Landing, near Front and Sansom streets, where the majority of Scottish immigrants first set foot in America and very close to the site of the Tun Tavern where the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia was formed in 1747. Long and difficult discussions took place with the City administration before agreement was reached and it is possible that this would not have happened without the services of our Monument Chairman, Edward V. Cattell, Jr, a lawyer who was adept at handling the intricacies of these negotiations. Suffice it to say that the monument is now a reality and should stand for several hundred years to come.
Figure 2 The maquette
The first step in any large sculpture is to produce a maquette and this figure shows the original one produced by Terry Jones . Once the majority of the funds had been raised and completion of the project was confirmed, Terry began the design and casting process at LARAN Bronze, an arts casting foundry located in Chester, PA. The next stage was to enlarge the maquette to heroic figure size using a computerized milling machine, which produced the base figure in polystyrene from the maquette, Figure 3. On top of this is placed a layer of clay which is sculpted to give the final positive image desired., Figure 4.
Figure 3 Terry Jones , sculptor, with polystyrene ‘Chieftain’ prior to clay modeling at full scale in his studio.
The next stage was to produce a hollow ceramic shell into which liquid silicon bronze could be poured. This is a complicated process which takes weeks and involves making rubber mold negatives then wax positives around which 10-15 thin layers of ceramic shell powder are coated, dried, and fired to form the hollow shell once the wax melts and flows out. In addition, parts can only be cast in small sections up to 2-3’ on edge after which they have to be welded together with bronze to produce the final figure.
Figure 4 Clay ‘Chieftain’ in foundry prior to mold making
Figure 5 Final assembly in the foundry prior to patination
While this work was going on, the sculptor was working with a quarry, Rock of Ages, Vermont., to select a suitable base stone of rose granite for the monument itself and four standing gray granite stones onto which a variety of memorial plaques would be affixed. with bas relief tableaux of the Tun Tavern, the Society’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, brief Scottish histories, and benefactors. We are grateful to Prof. Tom Devine, Edinburgh University, one of Scotland’s premier historians, for checking and rewriting parts of the historical component on the standing stones.
All sorts of problems arose after the dedication date was set. The city would not allow crane work at the site during the working week and the quarrymen did not work on weekends. Fortunately, the problem was resolved, the base was laid on Saturday Oct 1st and landscaping was completed just before the dedication.
Figure 6 Installation of the base and standing stones.
Even more fortunately, the gods smiled on the Society as the dedication day arrived with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. The ceremony was led by the current President of the Society, the Reverend Dr. J. Barrie Shepherd. Our patron for the monument His Grace, Torquhil Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, was in attendance and gave a speech prior to the unveiling of the monument, which was well received by the hundreds of spectators who there to witness this significant event in Scottish-American history. The monument is composed of five bronze figures of ‘heroic‘ size and, with the base, stands over 12 feet tall, surrounded by four standing stones , all approximately five feet tall.
Figure 7 The address by His Grace, the Duke of Argyll
Following the dedication, a celebratory dinner was held at the Union League, Philadelphia, for 150 members and their guests, which was enhanced by donations of ‘usquabae’ from the Scottish whisky industry, who, in the form of Chivas Brothers, Diageo, and Glenfarclas, gave substantial financial support to the project. This project was also supported by other St. Andrew’s Societies and Clan Societies, including the Societies of New York, Baltimore, and Illinois, to whom we are most grateful. Laurie Olin, an internationally renowned Philadelphia landscape architect (of Scottish descent) donated his services to design the site but, unfortunately, since it is situated over I-95 in Philadelphia, it had limited depth of soil, which prevented implementation. The City of Philadelphia accepted the statue on installation and is now responsible for upkeep and landscaping is now the responsibility of the group ILMC, Interstate Land Management Corporation.
All in all it was a wonderful day for our Scottish-American community and this site should be a destination for all people of Scottish descent who visit Philadelphia.
Figure 8 Terry Jones and his monument.
Figure 9 The Chieftain and his deerhound.
The theme behind the family grouping on the monument is that the son, dressed in back woodsman’s garb, had gone ahead of the family to scout out the country and is now returning to the new land with his father and his deerhound, and his wife, child, and baby. The child is carrying a book to signify Scottish education which was the best in the world at the time.
In honor of the occasion, I composed the following poem:
On Scottish Immigrants
From Scotia’s bens and glens they’d come
From manor, croft, or humble home
They stayed and sweated blood and tears
They gave their all and had no fears
Their achievements were the best, bar none
And so we laud them, every one
They came in droves after Culloden
The not-so-rich and the downtrodden
But, with an adventurous spirit filled
A country they all helped to build
They carved their way and left their mark
On deciduous and coniferous bark
From north to south and east to west
The imprint left was of the best
To help them out in early days
Our St. Andrew’s Society banner was raised
By twenty-five men of Scottish descent
Filled to the brim with good intent
So, to any new immigrant in dire straits
Such helping hand would them await
And Christian charity was extended
Until the breach was truly mended
Five members signed the Declaration
Establishing our brand new nation
James Wilson and John Witherspoon
Tom McKean and Philip Livingston
Last but not least there was George Ross
Whose niece, Betsy, our flag maker she was
And our Constitution was signed by two
A position achieved by so very few
Of statesmen we have spawned a ton
Our military men many battles won
And as for preachers, just look around
And a reverend President can be found
But if, in fact, the truth were told
‘Twas the common man and woman bold
Who, by their hard work and dedication,
Made us the drivers of this nation
It’s they, foremost, deserve the praise
Our gratitude and accolades
As we unveil this monument
To every Scottish Immigrant
Andrew Roxburgh McGhie 10.08.2011