20. Fragment of King George III statue, (formerly of) Bowling Green

Image courtesy of Skinner, Inc. www.skinnerinc.com

On April 26, 1770, an equestrian statue of King George III was dedicated in Bowling Green. King George III was not the statue’s intended subject. After the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, a number of cities decided to erect a statue of William Pitt, the British Prime Minister, who instrumental in the repeal of the Stamp Act. However, the New York elders thought it unwise to have a statue of Pitt when there was no statue of King. As a result the City commissioned Joseph Wilton to design statue of both men.

The gilded lead statue, on a white marble base, was placed in Bowling Green surrounded by a ten foot high fence. The fence posts were topped with depictions of the royal crown. Six years later, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, the statue’s fate was sealed. On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read at the head of each brigade of the Continental Army posted at New York. In the furor created from the public reading, British symbols around New York City were destroyed culminating in the pillaging of the statue of King George III and the removal of the crowns atop the fence. The remnants of the statue were sent to Litchfield, Connecticut and made into bullets for the war effort. A few pieces from the statue, that were possibly hidden by loyalists in Connecticut, can be found at the New-York Historical Society, with additional pieces auctioned off over the years.

See more remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam and pre-Revolutionary relics like the fence at Bowling Green in our tour the Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam:

Tour of The Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam