There is a chamber called the National Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, that houses sculptures of prominent Americans, two for each state.
My attention was drawn to it because I encountered to historical figures in my research who are represented in the statuary hall – Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit Missionary and Cattle rancher, for Arizona, and Mother Joseph Pariseau, a Catholic sister and self-taught architect, for Washington State, and these two made me go hmmm, and I wondered who else was chosen to be represented there and what could possibly be going on here.
These two people represent the State of Alabama – Helen Keller and Joseph Wheeler.
Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing after becoming ill at the age of 19-months.
Helen Keller was born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880 at a home still standing today called “Ivy Green.”
Tuscumbia is the county seat of Colbert County.
Tuscumbia was the traditional territory of the Chickasaw people, one of the Five Civilized Tribes of the southeastern United States that were relocated by the U. S. Government to the Oklahoma Territory during the 1830s.
Until the age of 7, Helen communicated by home signs until she met her teacher and life-long companion Ann Sullivan, who taught her how to speak, read, and write.
Helen Keller graduated from Harvard’s Ratcliffe College, and went on to become an author, disability rights advocate political activist, author and lecturer.
And did you know…Helen Keller was a socialist, and described as radical?
I sure didn’t!
Joseph Wheeler was a military commander and politician from Alabama.
He was a Confederate Cavalry general during the Civil War, and a General in the U. S. Army in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American War.
He served as a Congressman for Alabama in the U. S. House of Representatives between the end of the American Civil War (1865) and the beginning of the Spanish-American War (1898).
Joseph Wheeler attended West Point starting in 1854, and was commissioned as an officer in 1859.
He joined the Confederate Army in March of 1861 in Georgia, and first assigned to Fort Barrancas in Pensacola, Florida.
Then in September of 1861, he took command of the 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment in Huntsville, Alabama, and was promoted to Colonel.
As a Civil War commander, Wheeler was involved in historical events like the following.
On April 6th – 7th of 1862, the 19th Alabama Infantry fought in the Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee.
It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, and resulted in a Union victory.
The 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment was also involved in the Siege of Corinth in Mississippi that same April and May.
After the Civil War, Wheeler got married, and became an attorney and planter in at his home, called Pond Spring, in an area called Wheeler, Alabama, today.
He was first elected in 1880 as a Democrat from Alabama to the U. S. House of Representatives, and was re-elected 7 times.
During the time he was in office, he was said to strive to heal the breach between the North and the South.
This was Wheeler’s residence when he lived in Washington, DC, at 1730 New Hampshire Avenue NW, a condominium today.
Wheeler volunteered for the Spanish-American War in 1898 at the age of 61 and was appointed as “Major General of the Volunteers” by President William McKinley.
He led the 1st Division through the Siege of Santiago, the last major operation of the Spanish-American War.
This war led to the U. S. becoming dominant in the Caribbean, and to the U. S. acquiring Spain’s Pacific possessions – the Philippines; Palau; the Marianas; the Carolines; the Marshall Islands; parts of Taiwan; parts of Sulawesi and the Moluccas in Indonesia.
The acquisition of the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War with the Treaty of Paris led directly to the Philippine-American War between February 4th of 1899 to July 2nd of 1902. Rather than granting the newly declared Philippine Republic the independence it sought, the United States subdued any Filipinos who resisted.
Particularly known for its brutality, at the end of the war, the Philippines became an occupied Territory of the United States and not an independent nation.
Wheeler was re-commissioned as a Brigadier General in the Army during this time, and finally retired in 1900.
Wheeler died after a long illness in 1906, and is one of the few Confederate officers to be buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening represent the State of Alaska.
Bob Bartlett was a Democratic politician, and a key fighter for Alaska Statehood.
Born in Seattle in 1904, he was raised in Washington State.
He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1925, and lived in Alaska for the rest of his life.
He was a reporter for the Fairbanks newspaper for many years, and entered the political arena when he became secretary for a year to Anthony Dimond, the Alaska Territory delegate to the U. S. House of Representatives in Washington, DC.
In January of 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Bartlett as Secretary of the Alaska Territory, a position which he served in until 1944.
Bartlett was elected to Congress in 1945 after Dimond’s retirement, and was re-elected six more times.
He introduced the Alaska Statehood Act to the House that was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in July of 1958, with Alaska becoming the 49th State on January 3rd of 1959.
At that time, Bartlett became the senior Senator from Alaska, and served in that capacity until his death in 1968.
Ernest Gruening was also a journalist and politician.
Gruening was born in New York City in 1887 to German-immigrant parents.
Deciding it was more exciting than medicine, he became a journalist after graduating from Harvard Medical School, and worked for various newspapers in Boston and New York.
From 1920 to 1923, he was the editor of “The Nation,” a politically progressive magazine that is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States.
Gruening switched careers from journalism to politics in 1933, when he was appointed as a delegate to the 7th International Conference of American States, an international organization for cooperation on trade.
Then, Gruening was Director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions of the Department of the Interior between 1934 and 1939, which was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.
The Division of Territories and Island Possessions served as a mediator between the territories and Federal government by performing administrative activities for the territorial government and taking on colonization projects that furthered the interests of the U. S. in those areas.
In 1936, the Division was assigned responsibilities for territorial responsibilities in Alaska, including the Alaska Railroad project, the Alaska Road Commission, and jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Islands and the U. S. Virgin Islands.
During the time that Gruening was the Director of this Division, he was Administrator of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration from 1935 to 1937…
…and a member of the Alaska Highway Commission from 1938 to 1942.
Gruening was appointed Governor of the Territory of Alaska in 1939, and served in that position for 13 1/2-years.
Along with Bob Bartlett, Ernest Gruening served as one of Alaska’s inaugural state senators, from January 3rd of 1959, until January 3rd of 1969.
Gruening died in 1974.
The State of Arizona is represented by statues of Father Eusebio Kino and Sen. Barry Goldwater in the Statuary Hall.
We are told that Father Kino was a Jesuit, missionary, geographer, explorer, cartographer, and astronomer, who was born in northern Italy, and spent the last 24-years of his life in modern-day Sonora in Mexico and southern Arizona in the United States…
…in what was then part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain known as the Pimeria Alta, or “Upper Pima Land.”
From the moment he arrived in Pimeria Alta, he started to lead expeditions across northern Mexico, California and Arizona, following ancient trade routes, establishing missions and making maps of the region along the way.
We are told that Father Kino was important to the economic growth of the area, teaching the natives of the area to farm and raise cattle, sheep, and goats, and this his initial mission herd of 20 imported cattle grew to 70,000.
The Kino Heritage Society in Tucson is currently working on the process of getting him canonized as a saint.
Tributes to Father Kino include, besides various towns, streets, schools, monuments and geographic features being named after him:
A statue in the U. S. Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall Collection…
…the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza across from the Arizona State Capital building in Phoenix…
…which has a time capsule in the base placed there in 1967, and to be opened in the year 2235…
…and in 1963, Father Kino was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Also, interesting to note I know of at least one language, German, where the word “kino” means “movie theater.”
Barry Goldwater was born in Phoenix in what was then the Arizona Territory in 1909, the son of Baron Goldwater and Hattie Josephine “Jojo” Williams.
His paternal grandfather, Michel Goldwasser, was a Polish-Jew who emigrated to London following the Revolutions of 1848, a series of political upheavals throughout Europe that year.
The Revolutions had the aim of removing the old monarchical structures and creating independent nation-states, and was the most widespread revolutionary wave in Europe’s history, with 50 countries being affected.
His paternal grandfather changed his named to Michael Goldwater in London and married Sarah Nathan, a member of the Great Synagogue of London, a center of Ashkenazi Jewish life in the city.
The Great Synagogue of London was destroyed during the Blitz in World War II.
Barry Goldwater’s grandparents emigrated from London to America, first arriving in San Francisco, and then settling in Phoenix, where his grandfather Michael founded Goldwater’s Department Store, an upscale department store which was taken over and expanded by his sons Henry, Morris, and Baron, Barry’s father.
Barry Goldwater’s mother, “Jojo” Williams came from an established New England Family that included theologian Roger Williams of Rhode Island. Interestingly, Roger Williams is represented as one of the two statues for Rhode Island in the National Statuary Hall. More on him later.
Barry was raised in his mother’s Episcopalian faith.
Barry didn’t do well his freshman year in high school, so his parents sent him to the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, where he excelled, and graduated from in 1928.
He subsequently enrolled in the University of Arizona, and dropped out after one year.
When his father Baron died in 1930, Barry entered the family department store business.
Then, when the United States entered World War II, Barry Goldwater was commissioned as a reserve officer in the United States Air Force, and trained as a pilot.
He served as a pilot with the Ferry Command, a newly formed unit that flew aircraft and supplies to war zones around the world.
Following World War II, Goldwater remained in the Army Air Reserve at the rank of Colonel, and founded the Arizona Air National Guard.
He was also a leading proponent of the creation of the United States Air Force Academy, which was established in Colorado Springs in 1954.
Barry Goldwater entered Phoenix politics in 1949, when he was elected to the City Council, and in 1952, running as a Republican, narrowly won a seat in the United States Senate for the first time in an upset victory against veteran Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland.
In the 1964 Presidential election, Barry Goldwater unsuccessfully ran on the Republican ticket against incumbent Democratic President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had become President upon John F. Kennedy’s assassination as his Vice-President in November of 1963.
Barry Goldwater served in the U. S. Senate from January 3rd of 1969 through January 3rd of 1987, at which time he retired, after serving as Chair of the Senate’s Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
He died in 1998, and was perhaps best-known as being a shaper and designer of the American Conservative Movement, from the late 1950s to 1964.
The statue of Barry Goldwater as a representative of the State of Arizona in the National Statuary Hall was unveiled in 2015.
The State of Arkansas has been represented for some time by James Paul Clarke and Uriah M. Rose, though in 2019, the Arkansas State Assembly and Governor decided to replace these two men with statues of Johnny Cash and Daisy Gatson Bates at some point in time.
James Paul Clarke was a United States Senator and the 18th-Governor of Arkansas.
Clarke was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1854, and raised by his mother after his father died when he was 7.
He attended public and private schools, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1878 with a law degree.
He practiced law in Helena, Arkansas, the location of Fort Curtis, which was said to have been built in 1862 during the American Civil War as a command post for the Union Army since it was centrally-located on the Mississippi River, and there was a civil war battle here in 1863.
Clarke served as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1886 to 1888; a member of the Arkansas Senate from 1888 to 1892; Arkansas Attorney General from 1892 to 1894; and Governor of Arkansas from 1895 to 1897.
After leaving state office, he moved to Little Rock, and practiced law.
He was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1903, and served there until he died in 1916.
The given reason given for replacing his statue were racist beliefs he held.
Uriah Milton Rose was the other statue representating Arkansas.
Rose was considered the “most scholarly lawyer in America,” and “one of the leading legal lights of the nation.”
Rose was born on a farm in Kentucky in 1834.
His father was a doctor, and Rose was tutored up until the time his father died, at which time the children were thrown off the estate because of the debts of the father, and Rose ended up working as a field hand.
His fortune changed when he met a lawyer while he was working on the farm, Rutherford Harrison Roundtree, who subsequently hired him as a deputy county clerk, and gave him a home in Lebanon, Kentucky.
Rose entered Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, to advance his legal education, and graduated in six-months in 1853.
He married Margaret Gibbs shortly thereafter, and moved with his new wife and brother-in-law, William Gibbs, to Batesville, Arkansas, where he set up his first law practice with his brother-in-law.
In 1860, Rose was appointed Chancellor of Pulaski County, a county judge with statewide jurisdiction since it was the only one in the State at the time, a position which he held until Union Forces captured the state capital, Little Rock, on September 1st of 1863.
LIttle Rock is the county seat of Pulaski County.
He refused to swear allegience to the Federal government, as he supported the Confederacy, and subsequently moved to Washington, Arkansas, with the pro-Confederate Arkansas government following the fall of Little Rock.
Washington was an important stop on the Southwest Trail, the primary passageway for American settlers for heading to Texas.
With the end of the Confederacy at the end of the American Civil War in 1865, Rose and family moved to Little Rock, where he set up a law partnership.
He was the founding delegate from Arkansas when the American Bar Association was established in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1878, of which he was twice president, from 1891 to 1892 and 1901 to 1902.
He never entered politics.
His statue has been in the National Statuary Hall representing Arkansas since 1917, and the given reasons for wanting to replace his statue is his lack of name recognition today, and that his time has faded.
At some point in time, the statues of James Paul Clarke and Uriah M. Rose will be replaced by statues of music icon Johnny Cash and civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates.
I am going to end this post here in Arkansas, and turn the National Statuary Hall into a series since I have a long ways to go yet.