As some of you may know, the US Capitol has two statues from each state. The statues are scattered throughout The Capitol. Some are in areas where you may not go. Others are in areas where you are sure to see them. I assure you that you will not miss Hawaiian King Kamehameha. He’s the largest of the state statues. Some of these guys (and they are mostly guys) are famous and some are not.
DC Like a Local is going to do occasional pieces on the statues. Because it would be impossible to remember what we have done before if we don’t do it in alphabetical order, we are going to do it in alphabetical order (sorry Wyoming). The statues can be moved at any time, so if we tell you a statue is somewhere and it has been moved, please don’t blame DC Like a Local but let us know where it has been moved so we can revise our information and look smarter. You see if we look smarter maybe will get some tour guide business out of all of this because we will not pay our bills from what we earn on this blog.
Helen Keller (1880-1968). When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller contracted an illness that may have been meningitis. She survived but lost both her hearing and sight. She had, of course, a terrible time just communicating with the outside world. Her teacher, Annie Sullivan, was able to break through her isolation by persistently signing into her hand. That story is told in the famed play “The Miracle Worker” (Sidebar: This editor saw the original Broadway production of this play sitting in the orchestra; the seats were very expensive--$7.50). Eventually, Helen Keller attended Radcliffe college and became a celebrated author and speaker. Her ashes, together with those of Annie Sullivan, are interred in the Washington National Cathedral.
The statue of Helen Keller was placed in the US Capitol in 2009. The statue is bronze and the sculptor is Edward Hlavka. It is easily accessible in the Capitol Visitor’s Center.
Joseph Wheeler (1836-1906). He graduated from West Point in 1859. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, he resigned from the US Army and enlisted in the Confederate Army. He fought at the Battles of Shiloh and many others and was known as “Fightin’ Joe Wheeler”; he was the only Confederate general to effectively resist Sherman’s march to the sea through Georgia. After the war, he represented Alabama in the House of Representatives. During the Spanish American War, he reenlisted in the US Army . He assumed command of the cavalry—which included Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. He also served in the Philippine-American War. When Wheeler died, he, at his own request, was buried with Union officers near Arlington House at Arlington Cemetery rather than in a section reserved to Confederates. That decision was quite controversial at the time and you can read more about it in “On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery”, by Robert M. Poole.
The statue of Joseph Wheeler was placed in the US Capitol in 1925. The statue is in bronze and the sculptor is Berthold Nebel. It is in National Statutory Hall and can be viewed on the tour of the US Capitol.