Ohio seeks Statuary Hall replacement

Lynette Long, Ph.D.

The United States Capitol was originally completed in 1811, but a burgeoning nation quickly outgrew the original building which was dramatically expanded during the 1850’s.  A new House Chamber was created and when the House of Representatives moved to its current location, the old House Chamber and the meeting place of the House of Representatives for nearly 50 years became a passageway from the Rotunda to the new House Wing.  Lawmakers debated what to do with the Old House Chamber and in 1864, Representative Justin S. Morrill’s proposal to create a National Statuary Hall out of the Old House Chamber became law.  It invited that “each and 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 illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services such as each State may deem to be worthy of this national commemoration.”  By 1933, Statuary Hall had become so crowded and the weight of the statues so heavy, that Congress passed a bill allowing the statues to be distributed around The Capitol. The statues in Statuary Hall were considered part of a permanent collection until 2000 when legislation was enacted that allows states to change out the statues.

The statues in Statuary Hall are an inaccurate reflection of our nation’s history. Currently only 9  of the 100 statues in Statuary Hall are women.  With your help, we can make this number ten, since Ohio is about to replace one of it’s statues in statuary hall. Currently, Ohio’s two statues are President James Garfield and Governor William Allen, but the state has decided to replace pro-slavery Governor Allen.  The Ohio Legislature has established a committee headed by Senator Mark Wagoner (SD02@senate.state.oh.us, 614-466-8060) and Representative Tom Letson (district64@ohr.state.oh.us, 614-466-5358) which is canvassing the state to find a suitable replacement. You can also call the other committee members, Rep.Richard Adams  district79@ohr.state.oh.us 614-4668114, Rep. Tyrone Yates district33@ohr.state.oh.us  614-466-1308, Senator Teresa Fedor SD11@mail.sen.state.oh.us  614-466-5204, Senator Karen Gillmor  SD26@senate.state.oh.us   614-466-8049.  They have also established a website:  www.legacyforOhio.org where citizens can make suggestions and vote for prospective candidates. The primary contenders for the spot are men, (President William McKinley, President Ulysses S. Grant, President William Howard Taft, Jesse Owens) but there are plenty of excellent women candidates and it is imperative that women urge the committee to select one of these Ohio women to represent the great state of Ohio in Statuary Hall.  The two best female contenders are Annie Oakley and Harriet Beecher Stowe. 

Annie Oakley, the archetypal western woman, was an American sharpshooter who had a starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and was the first American female superstar.  Named “Little Sure Shot” by Chief Sitting Bull, she played a major role in breaking barriers for women.  Although her shooting career is well-documented, few people know Annie Oakley was a generous philanthropist, donating much of her fortune to orphans, widows and other poor women.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author.  Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin depicted life for African-Americans under slavery, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

It is important that the next generation of women, see a reflection of themselves in our nation’s history.  A fair representation of women in statuary hall will not only honor past female leaders but help create the next generation of female leaders. You can help change history and get another female statue in statuary hall.  Make your voice heard.

Lynette Long, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
5530 Wisconsin Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
301-654-8181 

Let’s get calling folks – we can/must be very effective here in helping Ohio decide on an appropriate female statue.

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