Heald Square Monument
Location: Wacker Drive at Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Dedication: December 15, 1941
GPS Coordinates: N 41° 53.251 W 087° 37.615
Heald Square is located at the intersection of East Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue in Chicago. The square is named for Nathan Heald, an officer in the United States Army during the War of 1812. Heald was in charge of Fort Dearborn during the Battle of Fort Dearborn on August 15, 1812. Heald and his wife barely escaped with their lives as a band of Potawatomi attacked the fort and burned it to the ground. Heald Square became part of the Chicago Park District in 1934, but the ownership was transferred to the City of Chicago as part of the Second Functional Consolidation Act in 1959.
The Lorado Taft Heald Square Monument is an 11 foot high bronze image of three Revolutionary War heroes standing on a six foot high granite base. George Washington is the central figure. Washington is flanked by Haym Salomon on his left and Robert Morris on his right. Robert Morris was born in Liverpool, England, on January 20, 1734. He moved to Oxford, Maryland, at the age of 13 to live with his father who was a tobacco farmer. His father later sent him to Philadelphia where he apprenticed at the shipping and banking firm owned by Charles Willing. After becoming a partner in the reorganized shipping and banking firm of Willing & Morris at the age of 18, Morris became a very wealthy and prominent businessman in Philadelphia. He became politically active in 1765 when he served on a committee established to oppose the Stamp Act. From 1775 to 1778, Morris represented Pennsylvania in the Second Continental Congress. In 1776, he loaned $10,000 of his own money to the government when the Continental Army lacked the funds to continue fighting the war. He devised a plan for a National bank and submitted it to Congress in 1781. Morris was one of only two patriots to sign all three of the important founding documents of the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, and The United States Constitution.
Haym Salomon was born in Leszno, Poland, in 1740. His parents had been driven out of what is now Portugal by anti-Semitic laws decreed by the monarchy. When Salomon was a young man, he fled to Holland during a period of mob violence against Jews. He traveled throughout Europe in the 1760’s and became fluent in several languages. He returned to Poland in 1770, but had to flee again in 1772 because he was involved in Poland’s nationalism effort. Salomon immigrated to New York City in 1775 and became a financial broker. He sympathized with the anti-British forces and joined the Sons of Liberty. The British arrested him for spying in 1776 and again in 1778. He then moved to Philadelphia and resumed his brokerage business. Salomon opened an office as a dealer of bills of exchange, bonds sold to provide funds for the Revolutionary War effort, and arranged for a loan to help George Washington pay his soldiers. Salomon and Morris collaborated to become effective brokers of bills of exchange to meet federal government expenses. Unfortunately, Salomon died penniless shortly after the Revolutionary War, having donated everything he owned to the war effort. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in 1975 hailing Salomon as a “Financial Hero of the American Revolution.”
The scourge of anti-Semitism invaded the United States after the Civil War. During the first decades of the twentieth century, Jewish quotas were imposed at many colleges and universities. The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act, restricting the number of Jews entering the United States, was passed in 1924. Anti-Semitism reached its peak in the 1930’s when more than one hundred anti-Jewish groups were organized. Father Charles W. Coughlin of Royal Oak, Michigan, was one of the leading disseminators of Jewish hatred on nationwide radio, and the Ku Klux Klan was formed in the 1920s. Henry Ford believed that Jews were responsible for starting wars in order to profit from them. His rants against the “international Jewish community” were embraced by Adolph Hitler and reprinted in Nazi propaganda publications.
Barnet Hodes, a Chicago attorney and head of the Chicago Department of Law, led an attempt to curb the rise of Anti-Semitism in Chicago when he created the Patriotic Foundation of Chicago on July 4, 1936. Hodes defined the purpose of the foundation: “Leaders in every walk of life and representatives of every cultural group have confirmed the conviction that a major contribution to patriotism, historical knowledge, and understanding of the part played by peoples of various nationalities in the building of America will be made by the erection in Chicago of an appropriate memorial symbolizing the cooperation that George Washington received from Haym Salomon and Robert Morris.” Of Polish Jewish heritage, Hodes had read about the financial contributions that Jewish patriot Haym Salomon had made to the American Revolution and planned to honor him. However, Hodes felt that a commemorative statue of Salomon standing alone would not deliver the message of inter-cultural cooperation as effectively as a sculpture with non-Jewish patriots like George Washington and Robert Morris.
Barnet Hodes chose Lorado Taft to design the Heald Square Monument, and a campaign to raise $50,000 to complete the project was launched. Taft completed a small study model of the monument that depicted Robert Morris and Haym Salomon standing hand-in-hand with George Washington. Taft unfortunately died in 1936, but his work was completed by three of his students, Leonard Crunelle, Nellie Walker, and Mary Webster. The face of Washington was modeled after the 18th century bust of him by Jean Antoine Houdon. The inscription on the base of the sculpture is a quote from George Washington who based his comments on part of a letter written in 1790 by Moses Seixas, a member of a Newport, Rhode Island, Hebrew congregation. It reads: “The government of the United States which gives to bigotry no sanction to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it in all occasions their effectual support.” For the back of the base of the sculpture, Taft designed a bronze plaque with Liberty stretching out her arms to welcome all persons of whatever race and belief.
The Heald Square Monument was dedicated on December 15, 1941. The date was chosen to coincide with Bill of Rights Day, a nationwide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The fact that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, added additional significance to the dedication ceremonies. Barnet Hodes formally presented the Heald Square Monument to the City of Chicago and said: “Robert Morris and Haym Salomon tell us that civilian cooperation and civilian sacrifice with the military and naval forces was no less important in the first days of our Republic than it is today. Joined with the indomitable Washington, they will stand here to remind us that America became the America we love because there was that working together between civilians and soldiers without which no war can be won. It is the fervent hope of those who made this monument possible that all who see it, today and through the years to come, will catch from it and be constantly inspired by this crucial lesson from the past.”
Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly observed: “George Washington and his friend, Robert Morris were Christians. Haym Salomon was a Jew. These three, though of widely different walks of life, labored together in a common cause in order that the American way of life, as we know it today, might be guaranteed to future generations of other Americans, the right to live as free men knowing no master, alive to their own opportunities, yet tolerant and sympathetic toward others. To my mind, this typifies the very spirit of America.” Illinois Senator Scott Lucas referred to the three figures on the monument as representing “the ideals we reaffirm in a challenging world. Different as day and night, yet these three men held as one the torch of liberty, worshipping God, each in his own way, each daring the hangman tyrant’s halter in the cause of that new light of the world – democracy. From this monument we take courage and hope. We rise in the image of these three men to shield the light of liberty from extinction, to keep our country what they helped to make it – the permanent abode of sacred freedoms, the greatest of which is the freedom of man’s religious soul.” The Heald Square Monument became the first sculpture designated as a Chicago Landmark by the Chicago City Council on September 15, 1971.
For further reading:
Bach, Ira J. & Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide To Chicago’s Public Sculptures.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Barnard, Harry. “This Great Triumvirate Of Patriots:” The Inspiring Story Behind Lorado Taft’s Chicago Monument To George Washington, Robert Morris And Haym Salomon. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1971.
Fast, Howard. Haym Salomon: Son of Liberty. New York: Julian Messner, 1941.
“George Washington-Robert Morris-Haym Salomon Monument Was Dedicated In Wake Of Pearl Harbor Attack.” Chicago Jewish History. Vol. 25, No. 4, 2001.
Graf, John & Steve Skorpad. Chicago’s Monuments, Markers, and Memorials.
Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.
“Monument to Haym Salomon to be Dedicated in Chicago Today.” Jewish Telegraphic History. December 15, 1941.
Rappleye, Charles R. Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
Riedy, James L. Chicago Sculpture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981.
Schwartz, Laurens R. Jews and the American Revolution: Haym Salomon and Others. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Publishers, 1987.
Wenger, Beth S. “Sculpting an American Jewish Hero: The Monuments, Myths, and Legends of Haym Salomon” in Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America. Deborah Dash Moore and S. Ilan Troen, eds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
Young, Christopher J. “Barnet Hodes’s Quest to Remember Haym Salomon, the Almost-Forgotten Jewish Patriot of the American Revolution.” The American Jewish Archives Journal. December 2011.