High Street from Country Market Place with the procession in commemoration of the death of General George Washington, by William Birch, 1800.
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View on Fourth Street above Market Street showing the funeral procession instituted by a congressional decree in honor of the first president. Depicts a riderless horse, pallbearers carrying a draped empty bier adorned with swords and tricorn hat, and several other parade participants, including members of Congress and militia volunteers, slowly moving passed several mourning spectators. Mourners line the street, watch from the windows of several buildings, and stand within a market shed, including a woman and child and a weeping veteran in uniform.

Credit: Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia

After Washington's death, Congress set December 26, 1799 as a national day of mourning, and prepared for a formal commemoration in Philadelphia, the nation's capital. This William Birch etching captures the funeral procession on Fourth Street, where a riderless horse is followed by an empty bier topped by swords and a tricorn hat. (In the background one can see the City Waterworks, on the site of present-day City Hall.) As cannon fired in Philadelphia on the 26th, a process of deification began, criticisms were forgotten, and Washington became the greatest of American heroes.

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