Nice little history column in the New Hampshire Union-Leader paper. If they ever invent a time machine, going back to April, ’65, to witness the Washington illuminations is one of the first trips I’m taking.
French was ordered to illuminate all the public buildings in Washington as part of a grand patriotic celebration to be held the next day, Tuesday, April 4. He and his staff succeeded in arranging for the Capitol Building, the White House, the State Department, the War Department, the Treasury Department, the Post Office, the Patent Office, the Library of Congress, and other federal structures to be lit up. Owners of many residences, offices and stores also lit up their own buildings. A local newspaper reported the next day that “The city after nightfall was a blaze of illumination, and the gleam of fireworks, the crash of inspiring music, and the declamations of popular speakers added to the inspiring effect.”
French wrote, “After lighting up my own house and seeing the Capitol lighted, I rode up to the upper end of the City, and saw the whole display. It was indeed glorious … I have never seen such a crowd out-of-doors in my life …” He wrote with pride that he had arranged to have a huge transparent banner hung on the Library of Congress that was lit by gaslight, with enormous letters painted on it that read, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes,” a verse from the 118th Psalm.