Friday, August 23, 2013

August 24-29, 1930 - Cincinnati GAR Encampment

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army,  US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War.

Founded in 1866, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died.

Linking men through their experience of the war, the GAR became among the first organized  advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, lobbying the US Congress to establish veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. The GAR initially grew and prospered as a de facto political arm of the Republican Party during the heated political contests of the Reconstruction era.  The commemoration of Union veterans, black and white, immediately became entwined with partisan politics. The GAR promoted voting rights for black veterans, as many veterans recognized their demonstrated patriotism. Black veterans, who enthusiastically embraced the message of equality, shunned black veterans' organizations in preference for racially inclusive groups. But when the Republican Party's commitment to reform in the South gradually decreased, the GAR's mission became ill-defined and the organization floundered. The GAR almost disappeared in the early 1870s, and many divisions ceased to exist.

In the 1880s, the organization revived under new leadership that provided a platform for renewed growth, by advocating federal pensions for vetereans. As the organization revived, black veterans joined in significant numbers and organized local posts. The national organization, however, failed to press the case for pensions for black soldiers.
The GAR's peak membership, at more than 490,000, was in 1890, a high point of Civil War commemorative ceremonies. 

The GAR held "National Encampments" for 83 years, from 1866 to 1949. 

Different cities held this annual national encampment with Cincinnati holding three of them (the first in 1869, the second in 1898 and the third in 1930).

Cincinnati, 64th National Encampment - August 24-29, 1930

The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
dedicated a flagpole in Eden Park

Cincinnati, 32nd National Encampment - September 5-10, 1898


The Grand Army Arch spanned Vine Street at 12th Street in 1898.  It showed soldiers from the Union and the Confederacy clasping hands, below which is the motto "United we Stand, Divided we Fall". 

One of the main tenants of the GAR was uniting a divided country. 

The local transit system was overwhelmed and broke down due to the huge numbers of people attending the encampment. Thousands of conventioneers were stranded.

It was illegal for people to walk across the top of the arch but police finally gave up trying to stop them from crossing. They had to wait more than an hour to do so.

The Arch pictured above & below was located at 5th & Race Streets.

Arch at Fourth & Race Streets

Souvenir Pin

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