Knocked off His Pedestal

Whatever Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry did to deserve a statue in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol, it's not going to be enough to keep him there. The state of Alabama recently passed a resolution to remove Curry from the Hall, replacing him with the significantly better-known Helen Keller.
by | July 2001

Whatever Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry did to deserve a statue in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol, it's not going to be enough to keep him there. The state of Alabama recently passed a resolution to remove Curry from the Hall, replacing him with the significantly better-known Helen Keller.

U.S. Congressman Bob Riley put the change in motion, after years of facing blank stares when constituents on tours arrived at Curry's statue, which has stood in the Capitol since 1908. For the record, Curry was elected to the U.S. and Confederate congresses, fought in the Civil War, advocated for free public education, worked as a college president and served as an ambassador to Spain.

Alabama Representative Mike Hubbard sponsored the resolution requested by Riley, calling for the formation of a committee to secure a statue of Keller, who was born and grew up in Tuscumbia, Alabama. He says numerous groups have come forward offering to contribute to the financing of Keller's statue.

Hubbard, who admits that he had never heard of Curry until he took the Capitol tour, says that there's been very little opposition to the switch. Although the fate of the Curry statue is somewhat unclear, Hubbard thinks that it will remain in the U.S. Capitol somewhere--just not in Statuary Hall.

Since 1864, states have been able to contribute statues to be displayed in the Capitol. But once a state filled its limit of two statues, it was not allowed to change its selections. However, a federal law passed last year enables a statue to be switched through a request by the state legislature. "I think you'll see states lining up to do this," Hubbard says. "History didn't stop 100 years ago."

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Anya Sostek | Former Correspondent | asostek@gmail.com