Celebrate 125! Monday: Caroline Scott Harrison Portrait Unveiling

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
October 12, 2015

On February 22, 1894, a portrait of first NSDAR President General Caroline Scott Harrison, who was also the wife of President Benjamin Harrison, was unveiled. This portrait painted by Daniel Huntington was presented to the White House by the National Society. A copy hangs in the President General’s Reception room at National Headquarters.

The unveiling was the highlight of the Third Continental Congress. At the ceremony held in the Church of Our Father, First Universalist Church of Washington, D.C., the painting was placed on the left of the platform and covered with the American flag. Members of the public were admitted, mingling with Daughters to form a sizeable audience. A three-stanza poem by Belle Ward, titled “Caroline Scott Harrison,” was read. It began “We hail thee, leader of our band! First, sweetest lady of the land.”

The ceremony also marked the debut of the National Hymn for the Daughters of the American Revolution, which was performed for the first time by the Lenox Choral Society of New York, led by Director Miss Maud Morgan. The hymn, titled “Our Western Land,” was composed by Louise Choate Peet, a DAR member from New York, with lyrics by Caroline Hazard of Rhode Island.  It was originally published and copyrighted in 1894 by DAR Founder Ellen Hardin Walworth.

The song was introduced by Mrs. Walworth, who said, “The production of this hymn is an effort to carry out the suggestion so urgently made at the Chicago meeting of May 19, 1893, to create a truly American National Hymn.”  A copy of the music was sent to every chapter regent, and the lyrics were printed in an 1894 issue of American Monthly Magazine.

In 1993 a search began for a copy of the music. Two copies and the copyright record were found at the Library of Congress in March 1994 thanks to the efforts of Frances Shelton, a member of New York City Chapter. The song was originally published and copyrighted in 1894 by Mrs. Walworth. It was reprinted in the April 1994 Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine.

Caroline Hazard became the fifth president of Wellesley College, serving from 1899–1910.  She wrote poetry, biographies and works relating to her family history and became an authority on the history of Rhode Island. She was a philanthropist who conducted welfare programs, especially for children of the employees of her father’s company. Her papers are housed in the Manuscripts Divison of the Rhode Island Historical Society.

This is an A Look Back article that was featured in the March/April 2015 Daughters Newsletter. Subscribe to the magazine here: www.dar.org/subscribe.

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