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Prince Henry of Prussia Medal

Sample News Articles - Prince Henry of Prussia

The city was waiting, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Henry, crown prince of Prussia, and his wife Princess Alice, who were touring the USA in 1902. The royal couple would arrive in Syracuse on Wednesday evening, March 5th. Andrew D. White, of Syracuse, the US ambassador to Germany, approved arrangements for the prince and princess to spend about 10 minutes in Syracuse that night. Mayor Jay B. Kline named 125 notable Syracusans to a committee to plan and re ceive Henry and Alice. Local businessmen, several with German surnames, comprised the committee to greet the royalty. Their duty was to develop and implement a festive and successful welcome.

The Committee of Arrangements met at 4 o'clock PM at the mayor's office on Monday, March 3rd to discuss the details of the program. They only had 7-10 minutes to impress this royal couple. Subcommittees submitted their reports showing that all the details of the occasion had been anticipated. The Committee on Souvenir reported that the die for the handsome gold medallion to be presented to Prince Henry had been obtained from New York City. Not wanting to delay the medallion's arrival, the committee dispatched a courier from Syracuse to retrieve the valuable and aristocratic-looking medallion, which was enclosed in a silver case bearing the coats of arms of the United States and Germany. The Committee of Souvenir also struck facsimiles of the gold medallion in bronze and aluminum. The aluminum facsimiles would be sold to the public to help defray the cost of the gold medallion, as well as the reception. Only 125 bronze medallions would be struck, reserved exclusively for members of the Committee of Reception at a cost of $5.00 each.

The program was grandiose and impressive, and replete with activity for the short time allowed for the reception. A New York Central train carrying the royal couple and their entourage would stop in front of City Hall at 10:50PM. It would depart no later than 11PM. The great citizenry of Syracuse would greet the train with a 21-gun salute, followed by Goettel's band playing a lively German tune. Mayor Kline and Committee Chairman Charles Andrews would board the rear platform and greet Henry and Alice with a brief proclamation. These gentlemen would then present the gold medallion to Henry who would acknowledge the gift. After the speechifying the Liederkrantz Society choir would sing The Song of Joy. Ten ladies representing the various German societies in Syracuse would present Henry and Alice with photograph albums containing stunning views of Syracuse. At the conclusion of the presentations, and as the train departed from downtown, the Saengerbund would sing Heute Scheide Ich, a patriotic composition.

The Committee expected large crowds to gather in front of City Hall to catch a glimpse of the German royalty. To reduce the throng from getting too close to the train, city police officers and militia were to cordon off an area they called the hollow square. The police and militia forming the hollow square consisted of the Forty-First Separate Co., a platoon from the Second Separate Co. of Auburn, a squad of the Forty-Eighth Separate Co. from Oswego, along with forty boys from St. John's School. They would create a space large enough for the train's rear platform to be inside the center. Only a select few participating in the program would be allowed inside the hollow square and no one else. Nor would officials allow the crowds to gather close to the train at any point during its brief stay in Syracuse. Jacob Amos, former mayor, had spoken to his connections with the NYC railroad and thought he could secure a few additional moments for the reception. General Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee, was scheduled to be in Syracuse on 5 March and Mayor Kline authorized someone on the committee to invite General Lee to the festivities. The committee departed that evening full of confidence and excitement.

The Evening Herald dedicated a major portion of the front page on 5 March to the royal reception. Included in the coverage were the couple's itinerary and the entire speech Charles Andrews was to deliver from the back of the train that evening. From the US Embassy in Germany Ambassador Andrews cabled this statement to The Evening Herald, "Never Was a Noble Purpose More Nobly Accomplished Than By Prince Henry's Mission." The committee was ready for the arrival of Prince Henry and Princess Alice, or so they thought!

Later that evening fifteen thousand people poured into downtown Syracuse looking for an opportunity to behold Henry and Alice. The area in front of City Hall was illuminated with extra lights. An electric sign attached to City Hall glared forth its message, "Syracuse Bids You Welcome." The area was as bright as day and Prince Henry was sure to be impressed with Syracuse's effort to make him feel welcome. The police and militia units formed the hollow square, determined to keep the peace, as well as the area inside the square clear of trespassers.

At 10:51PM a whistle blasted, signifying the couple's arrival. Ecstatic citizens wanting to get a closer look of the royal couple ran from hotels, business blocks, and side streets, pressuring the hollow square and those charged with maintaining its structure and impenetrability. The crowd swelled to an enormous size. For thirty minutes before the train's arrival, police, soldiers, and boys grappled with the people trying to penetrate the area. At first they tried to stave off the crowd with gentle persuasion and the strength of their bodies. When that didn't work they used musket butts and clubs, to no avail. As the train pulled into position in the hollow square at 10:59PM, passengers on the royal train watched as security forces battled with the assembled throng . Once the train stopped the mob surged forward, pushing aside the security forces as though they were mere children, as some of them happened to be. The hollow square evaporated, and committeemen, secret service officers riding the train, as well as t h e police and militia were all lost in the brawl. Those in the front of the attacking column of citizens who could spare time from their efforts to prevent themselves from being trampled upon by others behind or from being thrown down by the soldiers, saw Henry; the rest didn't. Simultaneously to soldiers and police battling with the citizenry, the planned activities continued as cannon boomed and fireworks erupted to greet the famous couple.

The prince emerged from the train car, observed the chaotic melee before him, smiled at the brawling crowd, and immediately retreated back inside the train, followed by Mayor Kline and other city officials. The mayor presented the gold medallion to Prince Henry and made his short proclamation. In reply to the mayor's comments, Prince Henry said, "I have noticed the great demonstration and it touches me deeply that there should be such a gathering to do me welcome. I wish you would convey to the people of Syracuse my appreciation." As the prince spoke the crowd cont inued to surround the train. The ladies representing the German societies were invited inside, presenting the photograph albums to Henry and Alice. And then it was time to leave. Mayor Kline and Charles Andrews emerged from the rear of the train car, followed by Prince Henry. The crowd burst forth in massive cheers as they saw Henry. Again Henry thanked Mayor Kline for the city's turnout and reception. As the men separated, the train slowly began to depart at 11:07PM. Henry remained on the rear platform, saluting the crowd. As the train left Syracuse, Goettel's band played again, and Henry stayed outside for about a block, before stepping inside the car and disappearing from the sight of the tumultuous crowd. Before long, he was on his way to another reception in another American city, one that I'm sure not as colorful, exhilarating, or memorable as the time he spent in Syracuse, NY!

The legacy of this story lives on at OHA's museum. The museum now owns one of these bronze medallions, recently donated by Robert Hudson of Palatka, Florida. Mr. Hudson is a descendent of a few notable CNY families. He inherited this medallion and retained it until last year when he donated it to the museum. We gratefully accepted the medallion and added it to the treasury of other significant material culture that helps us interpret our abundant community history.

Thomas A. Hunter, Assistant Director

 
Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center
321 Montgomery St.,  Syracuse, NY. 13202
Phone 315-428-1864, Fax: 315-471-2133