A monument is defined as a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event.
On January 25, 1776, Congress approved creation of a memorial for Montgomery, the first monument ever commissioned by the United States. The Smithsonian defines the Montgomery Monument as the nation's first monument. Trinity Church Wall Street describes the Montgomery Monument as the first monument ever commissioned by the United States.
The Montgomery Monument is currently located in the east window of St. Paul's Chapel (the Parish of Trinity Church Wall Street) in lower Manhattan, NYC. Benjamin Franklin, who would oversee the monument’s construction in France, was advanced 300 pounds sterling to cover the costs (about $45,000 today).
Upon its completion in 1778, the Montgomery Monument was shipped to America and arrived at Edenton, North Carolina, where it remained for several years. Although originally intended for Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Congress eventually decided to place the memorial in New York City.
In 1788, it was installed under the direction of Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant beneath the portico of St. Paul’s Chapel, which served as George Washington’s church during his time in New York as the United States’ first president in 1789, and where it remains to this day. Montgomery’s body, which was originally interred on the site of his death in Quebec, was moved to St. Paul’s in 1818.
General Richard Montgomery (1738-1775), who the monument is commemorated after, was an American soldier who served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is best known for leading the American forces in the invasion of Canada in an attempt to capture the British stronghold of Quebec. General Richard Montgomery is buried beneath the cast porch of the Chapel. The memorial monument is made of marble and was carved by the Italian sculptor, Jaques Caffieri.
Montgomery was born in Swords, County Dublin, Ireland, on December 2, 1738, and later immigrated to the British American colonies. He settled in New York and became a merchant, but eventually became involved in politics and joined the American Revolutionary cause.
During the Revolutionary War, Montgomery quickly rose through the ranks of the Continental Army and was appointed a major general in 1775. He played a key role in the American capture of Fort Ticonderoga in New York and was then tasked with leading an expedition to invade Canada.
In December 1775, Montgomery led an ill-fated assault on Quebec, hoping to capture the city and persuade the French-speaking population to join the American cause. However, the attack failed, and Montgomery was killed in the battle on December 31, 1775. His death was a significant loss for the American cause, as he was considered one of the best American generals of his time.
Montgomery's legacy as a Revolutionary War hero has been remembered through various memorials, including statues and monuments, as well as through his name being used for towns, counties, and military installations across the United States. His leadership, bravery, and sacrifice in the early years of the American Revolution have been widely recognized and honored in American history.
*Note: Some sources claim Bear Lodge Butte (also known as the Devils Tower National Monument) to be the first monument in America. But that is not quite accurate. Devils Tower National Monument is actually the first National Monument in the U.S. which was proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt on September 24, 1906. However Montgomery Monument, established in 1776, is the first monument of any kind in the United States.