General William Jenkins Worth Monument
General William Jenkins Worth Monument
William Jenkins Worth (1794-1849)
An early photograph of the monument
A close-up of the ornamental fence (with replica Congressional Sword of Honor pickets) surrounding the monument
Backstory and Context
William Jenkins Worth was born to a humble Quaker family in Hudson, New York on March 1, 1794. As a young boy, he received a common school education. At the age of eighteen, Worth moved to Albany in hope of commencing a mercantile career. When the War of 1812 broke out, he was working as a clerk in the state capital.
Discontent with his line of work, Worth enlisted in the U.S. army and received a commission as a first lieutenant in March 1813. During the war, he served an aide-de-camp to General Winfield Scott and participated in the Niagara Campaign. At the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in July 1814, Worth suffered a ghastly thigh wound that almost cost him his life. After the conflict, he was breveted to the rank of major for his service and later became commandant of cadets at West Point, despite never having attended the military academy. While at West Point, Worth rose to the rank of colonel. During the Second Seminole War, he led troops in combat in the Territory of Florida. For his service in the conflict, Worth was promoted to brigadier general.
Early in the Mexican War, Worth served under General Zachary Taylor and commanded the Second Regular Division during the Battle of Monterey. After Mexican forces surrendered, he became military governor of the city. Later in the conflict, Worth served under General Winfield Scott. He participated in the fighting at Cerro Gordo, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, and the Battle of Chapultepec, during which he captured the strategically-important fortified castle that overlooked the avenues leading to the western gates of Mexico City. For his leadership at the Battle of Chapultepec, Worth received the Congressional Sword of Honor and a promotion to the rank of major general.
Following the war, Worth was appointed to oversee the Department of Texas and was stationed in San Antonio. Soon after, however, he was stricken with cholera. On May 7, 1949, Worth succumbed to the disease. His remains were buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Since his death, several cities throughout the country have been named in his honor, most notably Fort Worth, Texas.
Less than a decade after Worth’s death, the City of New York decided to erect a monument to commemorate the New York native’s service to the country. Designed by James Goodwin Batterson, the monument, located at Broadway and Fifth Avenue, consists of a fifty-one-foot-tall granite obelisk on a stepped platform. Decorative bands carved into the shaft are inscribed with the names of the battles in which Worth participated during his military career. On the front of the obelisk, near the base, is a decorative shield with crossed swords and cannons along with a large bronze equestrian relief of Worth. On the back is bronze dedicatory plaque. Surrounding the monument is an ornamental cast-iron fence, the pickets of which were designed to look like Worth’s Congressional Sword of Honor. On November 25, 1857, Worth’s remains were reinterred at the site and the monument was dedicated. Participating in the ceremony were 6,500 soldiers and the mayor of New York, Fernando Wood, who delivered the keynote address. The monument is the second oldest in the city.
Over the years, the monument has undergone restoration efforts. In 1941, the City of New York restored the monument to its original appearance. In 1995, the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation along with support from retired U.S. Navy Commander James A. Woodruff, Jr., Worth’s great-grandson, restored the monument once again. Before his death two years later, Woodruff donated a large sum of money for the future upkeep of the monument through the Adopt-A-Monument Program of the Municipal Art Society.
"General William Jenkins Worth Monument." New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The City of New York. Web. 14 October 2020 <https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/worth-square/monuments/1734>.
"William Jenkins Worth." A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War. UT-Arlington Library. The University of Texas Arlington. Web. 14 October 2020 <https://library.uta.edu/usmexicowar/item?bio_id=15&nation=US>.
"Worth Square." New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The City of New York. Web. 14 October 2020 <https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/worth-square>.