Daniel S. Dickinson

Daniel S. Dickinson

Photographed by: Alex Feim

 

Allen George Newman (American, 1875-1940),
Daniel S. Dickinson, 1924
Bronze with granite base
Location: Broome County Court House, 92 Court Street
Collection of the City of Binghamton

“I’d rather be right than be president,” said Daniel S. Dickinson (1800-1866) at the Democratic Convention of 1852 in Baltimore. Although he was never President of the United States, Dickinson was elected president—the first president of the village of Binghamton in 1834. Dickinson enjoyed a distinguished career as a politician and lawyer which included positions as New York State Senator, Lieutenant Governor of New York, New York State Attorney General, culminating in his election to the U.S. State Senate. He was regarded with great fondness by those who knew him for both his eloquence as a speaker and his persuasive skill; his graceful speeches frequently included both allusions to poetry and mythology, and he could denounce his opponents with scathing satire.

The project to erect a statue of Dickinson was initiated in 1915 by the Exempt Fireman’s Association of Binghamton, a group of distinguished volunteer firemen, led by the organization’s secretary, Charles F. Tupper. Tupper enlisted the help of his friend, architect John Hemingway Duncan (1855-1929), New York based-but Binghamton-born, to find a sculptor who could portray Dickinson as accurately as possible. Duncan communicated that it was important for the public to be pleased with the statue, and thought that Allen George Newman (1875-1940) would be the best man for the job. Newman was born in New York City and studied at the National Academy of Design with John Quincy Adams. Newman was well known at the time for his patriotic monuments, the most famous of which is The Hiker, a monument to honor American soldiers who fought in the Boxer Rebellion, Spanish American War, and Filipino-American War; copies of the famous Hiker can be found in parks and squares across the country.

Newman’s statue of Dickinson was unveiled by Harold L. Harrington, Dickinson’s great-great grandson, on May 30th, 1924. A highly traditional monument, Newman’s sculpture portrays Dickinson as a grand, larger-than-life figure. The statesman holds a confident stance, his right hand tucked into his waistcoat and his left hand at his side holding papers.  The hand in the waistcoat signifies boldness, tempered with modesty, a fitting gesture for a politician of Dickinson’s stature.

Erecting a statue of Dickinson was an expensive undertaking, and required cooperation from the entire community. Tupper was able to gather support from the local community for the project, and succeeded in amassing the necessary funds to complete it, including a contribution of $1000 from George F. Johnson.  Today, Dickinson stands outside of the Broome County Courthouse watching over the city where he began his career. Tupper envisioned the court house square as the location where Dickinson would forever stand and be memorialized; indeed, Tupper claimed, Binghamton had “the most beautiful public square in the entire state.”

Researched by: Alex Feim

Return to main Public Sculpture page.