Sieur De Monts National Monument

Editor’s Note: The following address was given by Harvard President and Acadia National Park cofounder Charles W. Eliot at the official opening of Sieur de Monts National Monument on Aug. 22, 1916. In honor of what is now Acadia National Park’s Centennial, this address, and others given by various dignitaries that day, will be shared by their descendents in an event sponsored by Friends of Acadia at St. Saviour’s Church in Bar Harbor on Monday, Aug. 22., at 2 p.m. See the Extra! section for the remarks of local judge Luere Deasy.

 By President Charles W. Eliot

Ladies and Gentlemen, Lovers of Mt. Desert

We come together here to celebrate a very important step in a long progress – long as we look backward, and longer still as we look forward. Some of us have known this Island for many, many years. The first visit I made to it was just fifty years ago, and I have long been intimate with the Island and its surroundings.

Most of us, I suppose, have lived here many years, or at least many summers; but the great event we celebrate today – the taking of nearly half the hills of the Island as a National Monument – has awakened a strong interest also in the Island on the part of single-season visitors, and those who come here for a few days only – or even for a single day.

That is an important new fact; because the promoters of the present enterprise are looking forward to a large extension of the National Monument which will greatly add to the interest and attractiveness of this beautiful Atlantic Island at all seasons of the year.

The old lovers of the Island expect to welcome many new lovers. We who have long known the Island know that it is unique on the entire Atlantic coast of the United States, with nothing even to approach it in varied interest and beauty.

Now, the public-spirited people who have got together by gift or purchase the lands which constitute today the National Monument have long been hard at work upon the matter – sometimes under discouragements; so they feel that today is a day for rejoicing and mutual congratulation. The labors of years have been brought to a cheerful and hopeful consummation. But these sentiments do not relate to their own experiences and their own happiness alone.

One of the greatest satisfactions in doing any sound work for an institution, a town, or a city, or for the nation is that good work done for the public lasts, endures through generations; and the little bit of work that any individual of the passing generation is enabled to do gains through association with such collective activities an immortality of its own. I have been accustomed to work for a University – in fact, I worked for one forty-nine years; but the greatest element of satisfaction in looking back on that work is the sense that what I was enabled to do, with the help of many others, is going to last – as good bricks built into a permanent structure. This is the great satisfaction of all the promoters of the enterprise we meet today to celebrate.

We hope to hear during the meeting something about the different stages of development of this enterprise. I hope we shall appreciate before we leave this hall what long-continued service a few men, and particularly one man, have rendered to this community through this work for the preservation of the Island’s hills, woods, and water-supplies. I hope we are going to hear what needs to be done in the future to the same ends. For example, we must understand that other great hills of this Island need to be brought into reservation, to be held first by the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations and then by the Government of the United States. And then I hope we are going to hear from a very competent source of the new interests which are about to be developed in the wild life of the Island, in the trees, shrubs, mosses and flowers, and in the animals that can thrive here on land or in the sea.

This undertaking has a large forward look; and before this meeting closes, I think there will have been presented to us a picture of what we, the present enjoyers of the Island, can do for the benefit of coming generations.


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