All fifty states are allowed two statues of famous persons in Statuary Hall in The U.S. Capital building in Washington, D.C. Can you name Maine’s two famous persons? I bet you can’t. I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up. Maine’s two famous persons are William King, Maine’s first governor and Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln’s vice president.
But they might not be there long. That’s because back in February, a state senator introduced a bill that aimed to evict at least one of the statues – the one of William King – with another famous native son deemed more worthy of the space.
Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, wants to see Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain take King’s place in the hall, and he thinks Gov. King’s time is up.
It’s not known if King’s statue will be returned to Maine or if a suitable place will be found for it. Hopefully it won’t suffer further indignities by being posted for sale on Craig’s List or eBay.
Mason’s bill asks the Maine Arts Commission, the Maine State Museum and the Maine Preservation commission to study the whole question and do a survey and let legislatures know what they recommend. Fortunately, Gov. King won’t be offended by his possible eviction because he’s dead. In fact one of the main requirements for getting your statue into Statuary Hall is that you be deader than a doornail.
The free-spending legislature ended up funding a study to examine this whole issue — like it does — to the tune of $3,000.
Basically, the question is: Does anybody want to replace one — or both — of these statues? And if so, with whom should we replace them?
So, this week the Maine Arts Commission sent out a survey asking people those exact questions. They worked so fast they even had , time to come up with a list of 10 possible replacements, which are on the survey. You can write in your own suggestions, if you want. The whole thing was done so fast it makes you wonder if they’ve been looking for an assignment like this for a long time.
What if the Arts Commission survey produces so many great replacement suggestions that the legislature decides to ask the Statuary Hall people if we could have a “Mainer of the Week” on display in the hall. Then everyone would be satisfied that their favorite historic Maine figure is getting the recognition he or she deserves.
If the other 50 states adopted the same plan They’d have dozens of different statues coming and going every week. All that activity would sure make statuary hall a much more attractive destination.
Here’s the list of favorites so far:
• Joshua Chamberlain
• Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
• Percival B. Baxter
• Winslow Homer
• Leon Leonwood Bean
• Molly Molasses
• Rachel Carson
• Margaret Chase Smith
• Frances Perkins
• Edna St. Vincent Millay
If you have a favorite Mainer that you think should be cast in bronze or carved in stone and placed on display in Statuary Hall, make sure youlet the arts commission know – mainearts.com
Who knows where all this will lead?