A Symbol in Brownstone page 3



"On the right understanding and application of this science, based as it is on the golden rule of doing unto others as we would that others should do unto us, rests all our hope for the future progress and improvement of mankind. Believing thus, I am determined to secure to our country a perpetual course of free lectures and instruction in the science and philosophy of a Republican form of Government, believing it suited to the common wants of our nature, and necessary for the preservation and security of the rights, liberties and happiness of all.
"In obedience to a clear and settled conviction, I have determined to secure by every means in my power a practical application of a Republican form of Government to regulate the management of all the concerns of this institution, by which it will become the positive duty of all with whom power may at any time be lodged, to use that power and all the privileges of this institution in such a way as will secure the greatest good to the greatest number of youth of our City, our country, and the world.
"While I have declared in this communication that I have deposited, in all sincerity, the opinions that control my own mind, I have at the same time secured by my will that neither my own religious opinions, nor the religious opinions of any sect or party whatever, shall ever be made a test or requirement in any manner or form as a condition of or for admission or continuance to enjoy the benefits of this institution, as long as these walls shall be permitted to remain.
"If, Mr. Mayor, this institution shall be the means of enlisting the youth of our City in the pursuit of knowledge and in the application to a wise and benevolent use, I shall be amply compensated for the labor that has been required to gain the means necessary to accomplish this object, so much to be desired.
"Mr. Peterson, the architect, will give to each one of the men now employed on this building a small coin, which I desire you will present to your wives, with my request that they will keep it, not for the value of the coin, but as something to remember that you have performed useful labor on a building that has been designed and will be ever open to aid in giving such an education to your children as I have felt the need of, and greatly desired for myself."

Brief addresses were also made by Mayor Westervelt, Mr. Peterson, the architect, Mr. Amos Wood, "the master workman," and others, after which the participants proceeded to spread mortar over the stone.

      According to the New York Times, "the ceremony caused some little merriment, owing to the different methods of handling the masonic implements adopted by the various gentlemen."
"His Honor used the trowel as delicately as he would lift a pea on his silver fork," wrote the Times reporter in a burst of descriptive writing that would be frowned on by the Times copy desk today. "Mr. Cooper, on the other hand, handled the implement and laid on the mortar with as bold and workmanlike a hand as though he had been brought up to the business; indeed, as a bystander observed, he took to the mortar like a brick. Messrs. Peterson and Wood were, of course, quite at home in the business.
"In a metallic box beneath the stone were deposited a copy of the address which Mr. Cooper delivered, some Bibles and Testaments in different languages, a copy of the Constitution of the United States, of Washington's farewell address, some contemporary publications and a few American coins."

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  last updated January 20, 2011