As part of our fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the Society’s next newsletter includes a timeline highlighting some of the events in and additions to the Capitol since 1962, the year USCHS was founded. Obviously we couldn’t include everything, so here are a few of the pieces of art that didn’t make the cut (and one that did—check out the newsletter in June to see which!).
All of these statues are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, to which each state can contribute two statues. The legislation authorizing the collection was passed in 1864, but it wasn’t until 2005 that 100 statues had arrived in Washington. Even now, the collection is in flux; legislation from 2000 allows a state to replace an already-donated statue with a new one. Many of the statues can be seen during a visit to the Capitol Visitor Center and a tour of the Capitol, or you can learn more about them on the Architect of the Capitol’s website.
Some of the additions since 1962 (all pictures courtesy Architect of the Capitol):
John Burke (1859-1937) was born in Iowa but made his name in North Dakota as a lawyer and then judge. He served in the state legislature and then as governor (1907-13). He was renowned for his integrity and reformed North Dakota’s political system as well as supporting progressive reform measures, including child labor and sanitation laws. Woodrow Wilson named Burke US treasurer in 1913 (he served until 1921), and Burke was later elected to the Supreme Court of North Dakota.
Joseph Ward (1838-1889) arrived in the Dakota Territory in 1869 as a missionary; he soon opened a school as well, which eventually became the first high school in Dakota. Ward helped found the first collegiate-level institution in the upper Mississippi area as well as the Dakota Hospital for the insane. A strong supporter of South Dakota statehood, he attended many statehood conventions, helped present the statehood petition to Congress, and played a key role in drafting the state constitution.
Dennis Chavez (1888-1962) was born in New Mexico and eventually represented the state in Congress. He first came to Washington as a senator’s Spanish interpreter and graduated from Georgetown University Law School. After practicing law in Albuquerque and serving in the New Mexico House of Representatives, he served several terms in the U.S. House before being appointed to the Senate in 1935 and winning the 1936 election. He held the seat until his death. Chavez supported the New Deal as well as the rights of American Indians and Puerto Ricans.
King Kamehameha I (1758?-1819) was a Hawaiian warrior who eventually united all the inhabitants of Hawaii under his rule, which brought an end to wars amongst Hawaiians. During his rule, he encouraged trade and opened Hawaii to the world. This statue is a copy of one first modeled in Rome in 1879, which now stands outside the Judiciary Building in Honolulu, and is one of the heaviest in the collection.
A native of Washington state, Edward Lewis Bartlett (1904-1968) graduated from the University of Alaska in 1925 and stayed for a career in journalism and then politics. He served as a delegate to Congress for the Alaska Territory, worked hard for Alaskan statehood, and was the first senator from Alaska when it became a state in 1959. According to a Library of Congress estimate, he had more bills passed than any other member of Congress in history.
Any recently added Capitol artwork that you’re particularly fond of? Let us know in the comments and we’ll consider featuring it in a future post!