Monumental DC – A series where I’ll be documenting the many memorials in DC that we pass by frequently, but rarely seem to stop and pay notice to. Follow on twitter with #monumentalDC
When: Tuesday November 8, 2011
On Tuesday November 8th I stopped by a total of
7 6 monuments (I later found out that one was just a nice looking statue). Of these monuments, three are located just west of the US Capitol and offer a nice “front yard” to the building. I’ve posted about the Peace Monument, and will get to the President Ulysses S. Grant Memorial soon. The third monument on the front lawn of the Capitol is the President James A. Garfield Monument, which was erected in 1887.
President Garfield is the second shortest serving president, living only 6 months after his inauguration, and for approximately 4 months after he was shot on July 2, 1881 in the Baltimore and Potomac Train Station on the National Mall (which no longer exists). Garfield was shot twice, from behind, by a mentally disturbed man named Charles Guiteau, who was later hanged for his crime. Interestingly, NPR had a program recently about Garfield’s death, and the now fairly common thought that he could have survived his wounds had doctors used sterilized equipment and washed their hands while poking and prodding him. The NPR story is here.
Garfield was not only a President, but a Brigadier General in the Civil War, House Representative, state senator, professor and president of Hiram College. These roles in his life are portrayed on the monument itself. The monument is of cast bronze on a granite pedestal, and was sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward and was commissioned in 1884 by the Society of the Army of the Cumberland. At the top of the pedestal is an over-sized statue of Garfield, posed as if giving a speech, and below him are three additional statues. A Student, representing his work as a teacher, a Warrior, representing his career in the military, and finally a Statesman symbolizing his work as a senator, congressman and as president. The Statesman holds a tablet inscribed “Law/Justice/Prosperity”
Sources: Wikipedia, Architect of the Capitol, DCmemorials.com