September 24, 1888

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Mr. President and Citizens of Allegheny County:


I labor under suspicion that there is a fact in regards to Allegheny County that needs explanation. I have been in this County, or in this city, rather, to make a somewhat protracted visit, on two occasions. Once, ten years ago, and today, and on that day I found the people of Allegheny in mass meeting assembled, and the suspicion I labor under is that Allegheny County is engaged in the business of holding mass meetings. For this mass meeting there is a plain explanation. You have good occasion, a twin occasion – the completion of this magnificent building, and the completion of your first century in existence as a county. It is therefore double. As to the first it is not for me to speak, but I may thank the committee for the privilege and the opportunity of being with you and enjoying to-day the instructions and the entertainment which we have had. I have also to congratulate the people of this county upon the ownership of this structure. The first speaker, I think it was told us, and told us with confidence, that “it has been honestly built.” I tell you there is a great deal in that. It is not every public building of which we can say, “It has been honestly built.” But didn’t he say, “It has been rapidly built?” From the day its proceedings of construction first were known until its very completion, it proceeded with rapidity and success. Now, I think that Pittsburgh knows that there are some public buildings of which you cannot say that the “proceedings proceed.” I congratulate you on that.


Now then, the historical occasion. It belongs to Pennsylvania, but Ohio is the daughter of Pennsylvania and we rejoice with you on that account. At every census of the past Pennsylvania, it is found, furnished more people to Ohio than any other State. Therefore, I come to Pennsylvania as my mother and greet her with the warm heart with which a faithful child greets a mother. Why the names which you read off as Vice Presidents and Secretaries of this meeting were names familiar to me from childhood. The first on that list of Vice Presidents was the great lawyer of the Northwest Territory, Thomas Ewing – a fit man to be at the head of any list where a temple of justice is to be dedicated. Again, at the head of the list of Secretaries I hear the name of William Henry Harrison, one of my dearest and oldest friends.


In conclusion, permit me to say that I hope this majestic temple of justice may forever be – or, at least, for many generations yet to come, what it was built to be – the home of Justice for the people of Allegheny County.