- Historic Sites
A Bicentennial Monument ToOur Fumbling Foes Of ’76
April 1975 | Volume 26, Issue 3
The second ministerial figure is John, Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, who selected the naval commanders. Quite unsurprisingly, he is today primarily remembered for his invention of bread slices enclosing a piece of meat, a thing that will forever bear his name.
The third minister is Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for War and for the Colonies, who wound up by losing both. It was he who organized both of the disastrous surrenders by sending to commanders three thousand miles distant detailed orders that under optimum conditions could not possibly have reached them in less than six weeks.
For the center of the memorial only King George in will do, because it was that monarch’s stubbornness that set the tone for all that happened. (The king was not, as was long believed, insane. Rather he was the victim of an organic ailment, porphyria, one of whose symptoms is delirium.)
There was, after all, nothing irrational about George m’s basic premises. His views on the wrongness of secession were precisely those that Abraham Lincoln espoused—and enforced—fourscore and seven years later. And George in had the same opinion of the taxing power of Parliament as we have concerning the competence of our Congress to levy taxes on people living in Guam or Samoa.
When the Stamp Act was repealed, New York erected an equestrian statue of King George, which was later pulled down and melted into bullets to be shot at his troops. Now, by way of partial restitution, George should be in the center of the proposed group, not indeed mounted, but seated comfortably amidst his ministers and minions.
Finally, like every other proper historical monument, the one here proposed must have a symbolic female figure somewhere in or at least hovering near the group—which would otherwise be painfully incomplete.
Every visitor to New York knows the Sherman statue at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street: Old Cump sits on his horse, preceded by the goddess of victory. With one hand she grasps the bridle, leading horse and rider both; in her other hand she holds aloft a laurel wreath, symbolizing the general’s many victories.
For the group memorial now suggested, however, we shall want a different wreath—and above all a different female. The wreath, considering that it is to be held aloft for an assemblage of defeated leaders, can hardly be of laurel; it must be, in equal parts, of sour grapes and rue.
And the female should not be a mythical goddess or, indeed, any ethereal being at all. She must be a flesh-andblood woman and if not British born and bred, at least British at heart and other ardent parts.
In short, the only lady appropriate to hover over this highly select group would be Mistress Elizabeth Lloyd Loring, American-born wife of General Howe’s complaisant commissary general of prisoners, Joshua Loring, Jr. Because, after all, it was the charisma of Ms. Loring’s unique personality and warm embraces that dissuaded Sir William Howe from two successive winter campaigns in each of which he could have utterly destroyed the Continental Army, thus bringing the American rebellion to an ignominious close.
That is why, when the presently proposed tribute is finally fashioned and unveiled, as a heartfelt if belated expression of gratitude by a great republic at long last mindful of its obligations, it should prominently display the figure not of the goddess of victory but of the nymph who surrendered.