In 1864, Congress created the National Statuary Hall, which is located in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and features two statues from each state that commemorate deceased historical figures who have lived in the state and distinguished themselves through their civic or military service. Ohio is currently represented in the Hall by President James Garfield and former Governor William Allen.
Following a change in the law that allows states to replace a statue if they so desire, the Ohio General Assembly created the National Statuary Collection Study Committee – a bipartisan panel of lawmakers from both the Ohio House and Senate – to find a replacement for the statue of former Governor Allen that better represents the values and traditions of Ohio.
Last year, the Committee traveled throughout Ohio in search of the next great Ohioan to be featured in the National Statuary Hall. More than 90 individuals were nominated for this honor, and the Committee has narrowed the field down to 10 finalists. Now they are asking for your help in deciding who Ohio should pick.
From now until June 12, Ohioans of all ages are invited to vote on which of 10 famous Ohioans they feel should represent the state in Statuary Hall. Roughly 10,000 votes have already been cast, and the results of this public input will be reported back to the Committee and will be the single greatest factor in determining the final selection later this summer.
The nominees to replace Governor Allen include: abolitionist and former member of Congress James Ashley; inventor Thomas Edison; 18th President of the United States and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant; former congressman who led the fight to enact historic civil rights legislation William McCulloch; Olympic athlete Jesse Owens; astronaut Judith Resnik, who was killed while serving on the Challenger mission; Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine; Harriet Beecher Stowe, who authored “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”; suffragist Harriet Taylor Upton, and the Wright Brothers, who are credited with inventing, building and successfully flying the first airplane.
Together with the Ohio Historical Society, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Western Reserve Historical Society, 36 polling stations have been set up throughout the state for Ohioans to cast their vote. Polling locations in southwestern Ohio also include Fort Ancient, the Stowe House and the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant. Information about the finalists and a map of all voting sites can be found at www.legacyforohio.org.
If you can’t make it in person to one of the polling locations, you can also go to the Legacy for Ohio Web site and download a ballot, which you can fill out and turn in by mail to: Ohio Statuary Vote, C/O the Ohio Historical Society, 1982 Velma Ave., Columbus, OH 43211. You can also e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. All ballots must be postmarked or e-mailed by June 12.
Many famous and influential people have called Ohio home, and now it is time to decide who will be our next representative in Statuary Hall. I hope everyone takes advantage of this unique opportunity to be a part of Ohio history by learning about the 10 finalists and voting for their favorite.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.
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