National Statuary Hall is located in the United States Capitol. The large semi-circular chamber served as the meeting place for the House of Representatives from 1811 to 1857 when a new House wing was built. In 1864, Congress voted to create a National Statuary Hall out of the old House Chamber inviting “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. Since 2000, five state legislatures have voted to change their statues; Ohio is slated to be state number six.
The two statues currently representing Ohio are President James Garfield and Governor William Allen but Ohio has decided to replace pro-slavery Governor Allen with another Ohioan. The Ohio Legislature has established a committee headed by Senator Mark Wagoner (SD02@senate.state.oh.us, 614-466-8060) and Representative Tom Letson (firstname.lastname@example.org, 614-466-5358) which is canvassing the state to find a suitable replacement. 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) even though there are plenty of excellent women candidates. Here are just a few:
Lucy Webb Hayes was one of the most beloved First Ladies in our nation's history, and set the pattern for future First Ladies. A devoted abolitionist and philanthropist, Hayes was the first presidential spouse to be called "First Lady," the first to have a college degree, and the first to host the annual Egg Roll on the White House lawn.
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.
Nonhelema was a Shawnee Chief during the American Revolution, and one of the most remarkable women in Ohio's history. Known to whites as "the Grenadier Squaw" because of her stature and courage, she spent her life working for peace between the Shawnee and the Americans.
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!”
Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president in the United States. A brave and brilliant advocate for women's rights, she was also the first woman to open a brokerage house on Wall Street, the first woman to found her own newspaper, and the first woman to address Congress!
The statues in Statuary Hall are an inaccurate reflection of our nation’s history. Currently only nine of the 100 statues in Statuary Hall are women. With your help, we can make the new statue from Ohio number ten. It is imperative that the citizens of Ohio urge the committee to select one of these Ohio women to represent the great state of Ohio in Statuary Hall. Future generations of women, our daughters and our granddaughters, need to 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. Contact the committee chairs today and tell them you want a woman in Statuary Hall.