Jefferson Davis Statue, US Capitol, Washington D.C.

Statue of Jefferson Davis in the National Statuary Collection in the U.S. Capitol.

Dublin Core

Title

Jefferson Davis Statue, US Capitol, Washington D.C.

Subject

Creation

This statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, was commissioned by the state of Mississippi and sculpted by Henry Augustus Lukeman in 1931. He was one of two prominent citizens of Mississippi, the other being Confederate politician James Z. George, which Lukeman also designed, to be chosen to represent the state in the National Statuary Hall inside of the U.S. Capitol building. Lukeman’s statues were unveiled to the public in a ceremony on June 2nd, 1931. Both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Dixie” played in what was described by the Architect of the Capitol as the biggest crowd gathered for an unveiling of a statue in the history of the National Statuary Hall (1).

Public Reaction to the Statue in 1931

The bronze sculpture of Jefferson Davis was controversial from the time of its dedication. Many newspapers, primarily in the South, supported the statue being placed in the U.S. Capitol, such as the Houston Post-Dispatch, which argued before the unveiling in 1931 that it “will hasten the day when the great leader in the lost cause will be accorded his rightful place in the history of the country” (2). Many newspapers, generally Northern ones such as The New York Daily News attacked Mississippi for choosing someone who led a cause that was “based on the most barbarous cruel and vicious institution ever invented – human slavery” (3). Even in the 1930’s, the debate over Confederate monuments raged on.

Public Reaction to the Statue Today

In recent years, calls to get rid of the statue have greatly intensified as a result of events such as the 2015 Charleston church shooting, the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charleston, and the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Multiple bills have been introduced into both the House of Representatives and Senate to replace the statue of Jefferson Davis, along with others dedicated to the Confederacy, in the U.S. Capitol building. All of them have failed to pass (4).

Creator

Henry Augustus Lukeman

Source

1. Oulahan (June 3, 1931). "CONFEDERATE CHIEF HONORED IN CAPITOL: Statues of Jefferson Davis and Senator George Unveiled in Statuary Hall". New York Times. p. 52.

2. The Houston Post-Dispatch (November 12, 1930). "The Davis Statue". Asbury Park Evening Press. p. 8.

3. "Davis Reaches Statuary Hall". New York Daily News. June 4, 1931. p. 28.

4. Siegel, Benjamin. "Democrats push to remove Confederate statues from US Capitol after George Floyd's death". ABC News. Archived from the original on May 7, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2021.

5. https://www.aoc.gov/explore-capitol-campus/art/jefferson-davis-statue

Date

June 2, 1931

Contributor

Joseph Baum

Language

English

Type

Bronze sculpture

Identifier

HIST 402A Fall 2021

Coverage

Washington, D.C., United States

Geolocation