National Statuary Hall

In past history lessons, I have mentioned many times "The Hall of Fame" in our nation's capital. I do not believe that I have ever explained to you how this famous historical place came to be and the reason for its establishment in the first place.
In l857, a new wing was added to the Capitol building for the House of Representatives. Senator Morrill of Vermont introduced a bill into Congress to convert the old House of Representative Chamber into a hall for statuary to honor such individuals who have contributed to the building of our country. Great nations have different ways to hold in memory their historic dead. Egypt built her pyramids, Greece had her mausoleums, England has her Westminster Abbey, France has her Shrine, the Tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Russia actually embalmed the bod ies of Lenin and Stalin and placed them on display under glass.
In introducing his bill to establish the Hall of Statuary, Senator Morrill had this to say: "To what end more useful and at the same time simple and inexpensive can we devote this hall than to ordain that it shall be set apart for such statuary as each state shall elect to be deserving of this honor. Will not all the states proudly respond and thus furnish a new evidence that the Union will clasp and hold forever all of its jewels, the glory of the past-civil, military and judicial-in one hallowed spot where those who carry on the government here may daily receive fresh inspiration and new incentives and where pilgrims from all parts of the union may come and behold a gallery filled with such American manhood and womanhood as succeeding generations will delight to honor."
The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by the President. It provided: "that the President is authorized to invite all the states to provide and furnish statues, in marble or bronze, not exceeding two in number for each state, of deceased persons who have been citizens thereof and noted for their historic renown or for distinguished military or civic service, such as each state may deem to be worthy of this national honor."
It was thought that two statues from each state could be accommodated in the o ld House of Representatives Chamber, and everything went smoothly until l932 when the total number of statues in National Statuary Hall reached 65. A structural study by a competent engineer recommended that some of the statues be relocated, and so Congress decided that only one statue from each state could remain in the original chamber and the others would be relocated. So today we have six additions to Statuary Hall. Throughout the Capitol, in the Rotunda, the Great Hall under the Dome, the North and South Vestibules and the Hall of Columns, you will find statues of our famous men and women. All of these locations are now considered part of the National Statuary Hall or the Hall of Fame as it is usually referred to
Now where did all these statues come from and what kind of people do they represent? Forty states have two statues. Seven states have one statue. This makes a total of eighty-seven statues. What kind of people are represented? There are eighty-three men: eighty-two white, one Indian; four women: Florence Sabin, a scientist from Colorado; Frances Willard, reformer, temperance worker, women's rights advocate; Maria Sanford of Minnesota, educator; Esther H. Morris of Wyoming, women's rights advocate from the first state to grant women the right to vote. Among the men there are one artist, two inventors (Robert Fulton and Dr. John Gorrie who patented the ice making machine in l851), four doctors, five educators, seven missionaries (three Catholic, four Protestant), one humorist (Will Rogers, part Indian), numerous g enerals, statesmen and governors.
During the l2 years I lived in the Washington area, I visited the Capitol many, many times and being a history nut I spent a lot of time in Statuary Hall and one day in talking to one of the tour guides I found out that a book had been written giving complete information about the Hall, so naturally I bought the book. And this book has been very valuable to me in preparing my history lessons.

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