President William Howard Taft

(27th US President, 1909-1913)

Monroe’s second presidential visit also involved Major General George Armstrong Custer — or more specifically, honoring him. Circa 1908 a group of local residents banded together and formed the Michigan Custer Memorial Association. The Michigan Legislature appropriated $25,000 and commissioned Edward Potter to be the monument’s sculpture. The bronze sculpture of Custer seated on a horse, and mounted on a pedestal, was ready for a dedication ceremony fitting the enthusiasm and affection local residents felt for the fallen lieutenant colonel. The statue’s dedication ceremony was given a national audience when it was learned that the 27th President of the United States, President William Howard Taft (1909-1913), would attend, since he would already be in Michigan on other business.

On June 4, 1910 a very large crowd packed Loranger Square to listen to President Taft speak from a dais that was built on the front lawn of the Monroe County Courthouse. While President Taft praised Custer for his leadership during the Civil War, the president said Custer’s decade of military service after the Civil War was more noteworthy “He (Custer) was one of that small band of twenty-five thousand men constituting the regular army of the United States, without whose service, whose exposure to danger, whose loss of life and whose hardships and trials, it would not have been possible for us to have settled the great west.” Mrs. Elizabeth Custer unveiled the statue, which stood in the center of Loranger Square. The statue was later moved to its present location at the southwest corner of Elm Avenue and Monroe Street.

Presidential Seal