An equestrian statue of King George II (1738-1820) was erected in Manhattan’s Bowling Green in August 1770. A fence placed there in 1771 can still be seen today.
Following the first reading in New York State of the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776, the statue was taken down and its metal was used for bullets by supporters of the American Revolution.
Wikipedia: Bowling Green (New York City)
Bowling Green is a small public park in South Ferry, Manhattan at the end of Broadway, next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam. Built in 1733, originally including a bowling green, it is the oldest public park in New York City and is surrounded by its original 18th-century fence
On August 21, 1770, the British government erected a 4,000 pound (1,800 kg) gilded lead equestrian statue of King George III in Bowling Green; the King was dressed in Roman garb in the style of the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. The statue had been commissioned in 1766, along with a statue of William Pitt, from the prominent London sculptor Joseph Wilton, as a celebration of victory after the Seven Years’ War. With the rapid deterioration of relations with the mother country after 1770, the statue became a magnet for the Bowling Green protests; in 1773, the city passed an anti-graffiti and anti-desecration law to counter vandalism against the monument, and a protective cast-iron fence, which still stands, was built along the perimeter of the park.
On July 9, 1776, after the Declaration of Independence was read to Washington’s troops at the current site of City Hall, local Sons of Liberty rushed down Broadway to Bowling Green, where they toppled the statue of King George III. The fence post finials of cast-iron crowns on the protective fence were sawed off, with the saw marks still visible today. The event is one of the most enduring images in the city’s history. According to folklore, the statue was chopped up and shipped to a Connecticut foundry under the direction of Oliver Wolcott to be made into 42,088 patriot bullets at 20 bullets per pound (2,104.4 pounds). The statue’s head was to have been paraded about town on pike-staffs, but was recovered by Loyalists and sent to England. Eight pieces of the lead statue are preserved in the New-York Historical Society; one in the Museum of the City of New York as well as one in Connecticut (estimated total of 260/270 pounds); The event has been depicted over the years in several works of art, including an 1854 painting by William Walcutt, and an 1859 painting by Johannes Adam Simon Oertel.
Wikipedia: King George III of the United Kingdom
George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire until his promotion to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors he was born in Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.
Bowling Green was first designated as a park in 1733, when it was offered for rent at the cost of one peppercorn per year. Lessees John Chambers, Peter Bayard, and Peter Jay were responsible for improving the site with grass, trees, and a wood fence “for the Beauty & Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & delight of the Inhabitants of this City.” A gilded lead statue of King George III was erected here in 1770, and the iron fence (now a New York City landmark) was installed in 1771. On July 9, 1776, after the first public reading in New York State of the Declaration of Independence, this monument was toppled by angry citizens, dragged up Broadway, sent to Connecticut, melted down, and recast as ammunition. Portions of the statue are held by the Museum of the City of New York and the New-York Historical Society (which also possesses musket balls made from the statue’s lead).
20 August 1770, The New-York Gazette, or The Weekly Post-Boy (New York, NY), pg. 3, col. 2:
Thursday last the Statue of his Majesty King GEORGE the Third, was fixed on the Pedestal erected for it on the Bowling Green. His Honour the Lieut. Governor having invited most of the principal Gentlemen in the City, both Civil and Military; about 12 o’Clock they attended his Honour in Fort George, where his Majesty’s Health, &c. was drank, under the discharge of 31 Cannon from the Battery.
The following Inscription is on the Pedestal of his Majesty’s Statue.
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, &c.
18 September 1770, Public Advertiser (London), pg. 4, col. 2:
New-York, Aug. 20. Thursday last being the Anniversary of the Birth-day of his Royal Highness Prine Frederick, an elegant Equestrian Statue of his present Majesty was erected in the Bowling-Green in this City, near Fort George. On the Occasion the Members of his Majesty’s Council, the City Corporation, the COrporation of the Chamber of Commerce, the Corporation of the Marine Society, and most of the City and the Army, waited on his Honor the Lieutenant Governor, in the Fort, at his Request, where their Majesties and other loyal Healths were drank, under a discharge of 32 Pieces of Cannon from the Battery, accompanied with a Band of Music. This beautiful statue is made of Metal, richly gilt, being the first Equesrian one of his present Majesty, and is the Workmanship of that celebrated Statuary, Mr. Wilton, of London. We hear that in a few Days a Marble Pedestrian Statue of Mr. Pitt will be erected in Wall-street.
A Tour Through Part of the North Provinces of America
By Patrick M’Robert
Edinburgh: Printed for the Author
Pg. 5 (Letter from August 1774):
Near the fort is an equestrian statue of king George the III. upon an elegant pedestial in the middle of a fine green rail’d in with iron.
The Statue of King George III in New York and the Iconology of Regicide
Arthur S. Marks
The American Art Journal
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer, 1981), pp. 61-82
Ephemeral New York
A Revolutionary War legend at Bowling Green
April 23, 2012
Created by the Dutch as a cattle market in the 17th century, Bowling Green became New York’s first park in 1733—leased to three private landlords for “one peppercorn a year.”
Amazingly, the wrought-iron fence built in 1771 to surround the park still stands.
But it was partly destroyed on the eve of the Revolutionary War, and you can still see the desecration if you look closely.