The Centennial Celebration of the united states



In the last year of President Grant's term was held the exhibition at Philadelphia, to celebrate the Centennial of American liberty. Philadelphia was selected because the Declaration of Independence was signed there. It was by far the greatest world's fair that had been held up to that time. The city set aside a large portion of Fairmount Park for the purpose, and here were erected six large buildings and hundreds of smaller ones. The expense was borne largely by local enterprise, but the Government loaned $1,500,000, which was repaid. The total expense was $8,500,000, part of which was defrayed by the city, and part by the State. The rest was raised by subscription to stock in the enterprise, a portion of which was repaid. The total number of visitors was just under 10,000,000, and the largest on any one day was 274,919. The exposition was open from May 10 to November 10, except Sundays, a total of 159 days. It was opened with appropriate ceremonies by President Grant and Emperor Dom Pedro, of Brazil.

The exhibits came from all parts of the world, and for the first time in our history our people had an opportunity to compare their own products with those of other nations. The visitors likewise came from all over the world, and the result was most gratifying. While it was discovered that in the useful arts, particularly in machinery, our own country was in the lead, it was found that in the decorative arts we were far in the rear. It is impossible to estimate the effect of this exhibition upon the refinement and culture of the great masses of the people. Heretofore most of our energies had been directed towards getting the necessaries and comforts of life and developing our great resources; there was a natural pride over our accomplishments in many walks of life that led us to underestimate the rest of the world; but when the people beheld what the older nations accomplished, their respect grew, and many valuable lessons were learned. The decoration of houses has proceeded rapidly since that time, and the uses of color have been extended. Our artists and artisans got new ideas, and originality was stimulated. It is in teaching such lessons as these, and in educating those who have few advantages of travel, that such exhibitions are of the highest value. Thirty-eight foreign governments took part in the exhibition.





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