Princeton in Mercer County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Princeton Battle Monument
Here memory lingers to recall the guiding mind whose daring plan outflanked the foe and turned dismay to hope when Washington, with swift resolve, marched through the night to fight at dawn and venture all in one victorious battle for our freedom.
By R. C.
1. Main Marker on Rear of Monument
SAECVLA PRAETEREVNT RAPIMVR NOS VLTRO MORANTES
ADSIS TV PATRIAE SAECVLA QVI DIRIGIS
(translation: The ages pass away. We too, yet lingering, are hurried on. Oh Thou who guidest the ages, guard our land!)
A nearby sign (see picture below) gives a brief history of the Princeton Monument and identifies recent efforts to permanently illuminate it. It reads:
The Princeton Battle Monument
This Monument, which commemorates the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton, depicts Liberty inspiring General Washington as he leads his troops into battle, and the death of General Hugh Mercer. The seals of the United States and the original thirteen states appear on the sides of the Monument, and the inscription on the back was composed by Andrew Fleming West. Commissioned in 1908, the Monument was designed by the Beaux Arts sculptor Frederick MacMonnies with the assistance of architect Thomas Hastings. President Warren G. Harding was present for the 1922 dedication.
In 2006 the Princeton Parks Alliance, in carrying out
the vision of Princeton Borough Major Joseph O’Neill, undertook a project to permanently illuminate the Monument. As with the original construction of the Monument, local citizens responded with generous donations. The Monument lighting was funded with gifts from Princeton University, Sara and Alexander Buck, Randy and Herb Hobler, Betty Johnson, Douglas F. Bushnell, Marie and Edward Matthews, Barbara and Art Morgan, The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation, Betsy and Tod Peyton, Joan and Bill Schreyer, Charles C. Townsend Jr., Andrew Kootz and Laurie Harmon, Wendy and Peter Benchley, Sherry MacLean, and many more. Additional funding from the State of New Jersey was made possible through the efforts of Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.
By R. C.
2. View of Monument from the Plaza
Location. 40° 20.867′ N, 74° 39.95′ W. Marker is in Princeton, New Jersey, in Mercer County. Marker is at the intersection of Stockton Street and Bayard Street on Stockton Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Princeton NJ 08540, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Colonel John Haslet (here, next to this marker); Campsite of The Army of Louis XVI, King of France (here, next to this marker); New Jersey Patriots
(here, next to this marker); Marines in the Revolution (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named The Princeton Battle Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); The House Front (within shouting distance of this marker); “The Washington-Rochambeau Historic Route” (within shouting distance of this marker); The Wash House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Princeton.
By R. C.
3. View from Left Side including the American Flag and Four Markers
Regarding Princeton Battle Monument. The monument was designed by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies and dedicated by President Harding.
This monument has been well maintained by the State of New Jersey. However, many of the delicate, intricate carvings on the monument are starting to wear down making them difficult to see without detailed examination.
The wide mural at the front base of the monument has been particularly hard hit. Grout from the stones that make up the monument have caused discoloration and, apparently, some damage to the main stones themselves.
Maintenance patches to other parts of the monument are easily seen by the
naked eye as well as widespread stains and chemical reaction to the elements all over the monument.
By R. C.
4. Gen. George Washington in His Victory
Also see . . .
1. For a Princeton Battle Monument. Originally published by The New York Times on May 11, 1892
"Trenton, N.J., May 10 (1892) – Information has been received here that United States Senator McPherson has induced the Senate Committee on Library to support the measure prepared by him which authorizes the appropriation of $30,000 for the erection of a monumental column to commemorate the Battle of Princeton.
The Princeton Battle Monument Association is expected to raise by popular subscription an amount to purchase the site and secure a suitable design, which must be approved by the Secretary of War.
The entire structure is to cost about $60,000." (Submitted on February 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
2. Announcement of Harding's visit to Princeton for the dedication of the Princeton Battle Monument. Harding will Visit Princeton tomorrow; Dedication of Revolutionary Battle Monument to Be Followed by Degree.
An article about the dedication of the monument originally published in The New York Times on June 8, 1922.
Of note, the final cost of the monument was $300,000, as opposed to the $60,000 estimated in 1892. (Submitted on February 14, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
1. Changes to Monument Over Time
By R. C.
5. Right Side and Front of Princeton Battle Monument
I found a picture of the monument from around the time of its construction. Originally, it was in a heavily wooded area and the road appears to run directly in front of it. There was also a flight of stairs up to the monument. The stairs appear to be mostly gone with the exception of one or two that are now used to step up from the plaza pavement.
— Submitted February 14, 2008, by R. C. of Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
Categories. • Military • Notable Places • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Revolutionary •
By R. C.
6. Left Side of Princeton Battle Monument
By R. C.
7. Mural at Base of Monument
Rain, sleet, snow and ice have ravished the delicate mural at the base of the monument. One can only wonder what will be left of it in another hundred years.
By R. C.
8. Rear of Monument and Monument Inscription
By R. C.
9. Crest Detail on Battle Monument Beneath the Eagle's Talons
By R. C.
10. Death or Liberty!
The detail on this piece of the monument depicts a human skull with the words "Or Liberty" beneath.
By R. C.
11. Artillery Piece on Monument
The "<Death> Or Liberty" element of the monument is incorporated into an artillery piece and saber beneath a war eagle on the side of the monument. Many other symbols of America and the Revolution are also present.
By R. C.
12. Door of Mystery!
This approximately five-foot tall door is on the rear of the Princeton Battle Monument and can be seen as a dark rectangle in the photo of the monument’s inscription at the top of this page is PERMANENTLY LOCKED! You won’t find mention of it on any of the brochures about the monument nor will any tour guide even acknowledge its presence.
What mysterious, magical, or wonderful object could reside behind the door? Perhaps a hidden chamber that contains the spare pair of Washington’s wooden teeth or a version of the Declaration of Independence full of spelling errors that is unknown to historians. It might be the entrance to a cavern beneath the monument that contains all of the Freemasons' gold! Maybe, it is a trans-dimensional gateway into another universe!
I have “sources” in New Jersey who I am contacting to find out its true purpose. In actuality, it is likely an entry into the monument for performing maintenance on the steel structure that supports it. A second possibility though unlikely given the monument’s height, is that visitors were once able to climb a ladder and stand on the small deck on top. Many more of the monuments of previous centuries than those built today were designed for visitors to stand on top of.
Underwood and Underwood (via the Internet Archive), June 9, 1922
13. Princeton Battle Monument
McMonnie's Monument, Commemorating the Battle of Princeton, dedicated by the President of the United States, Warren G. Harding, at Princeton. N. J., On June 9, 1922.
The central figure of the monument is General Washington: General Mercer, who was killed in the battle, lying at his feet. The Rev. Percy Stickney Grant posed for Mercer: Dr. Allen Marquard for the soldier who is rushing forward; and Charles Dana Gibson, the illustrator, for the figure of the soldier who is supporting the fallen general.
Copyright by Underwood &. Underwood
This photo of the monument appeared in The Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Vol. LVI, No. 8, August 1922.
By Gary Nigh, August 2008
14. Princeton Battle Monument Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on February 27, 2019. This page originally submitted on February 14, 2008, by R. C. of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 3,612 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on February 14, 2008, by R. C. of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. 13. submitted on February 23, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 14. submitted on August 17, 2008, by Gary Nigh of Trenton, New Jersey. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.