Truman Library Institute Announces Unveiling of President Harry S. Truman Statue in the U.S. Capitol on September 29 | September 13, 2022
The 33rd president – consistently ranked among the greatest presidents of all time – will become 10th presidential statue installed in the Capitol Rotunda
Campaign to fund, create and install bronze statue for State of Missouri led by Truman Library Institute, raising over $400,000 from donors across U.S.
World-defining presidency ended World War II, desegregated Armed Forces and federal workforce; established United Nations, NATO and National Security Council; recognized State of Israel
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (September 13, 2022) – The Truman Library Institute is proud to announce the unveiling of the new bronze statue of President Harry S. Truman – consistently ranked among the greatest presidents of all time – in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The Congressional Statue Dedication Ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. E.T. on Thursday, September 29. Livestream of the press event will be available here.
The Truman Library Institute – founded by President Truman as the nonprofit partner of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum – spearheaded the Truman Statue Campaign to fund, create and install the new Truman statue, raising over $400,000 from donors across the country.
“President Truman may be remembered largely in black and white, but he is a 21st century standard for presidential leadership and public service. His story is our story, America’s story,” said Alex Burden, executive director of the Truman Library Institute. “Inheriting a global catastrophe after World War II, Truman shouldered the burden of leadership in a rudderless world with remarkable courage, integrity and humility. That’s why it’s a tremendous honor to lead this effort to bring Truman back to Washington more than 75 years since he boldly led our nation through some of the most dramatic and consequential chapters in America’s history.”
Truman’s World-Defining Presidency
President Truman is consistently ranked among America’s greatest presidents – along with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelts – for the courageous decisions the 33rd U.S. president made to guide the world through turbulent times, facing some of the greatest challenges of a world leader.
From humble beginnings growing up in Independence, Mo., Harry Truman was a farmer, World War I veteran, failed haberdasher and county judge before he went to Washington as a U.S. senator. After a mere 82 days as vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Truman unexpectedly assumed the presidency on April 12, 1945, during the final months of World War II.
President Truman led America through many difficult and world-defining decisions, including:
• ending World War II
• forming the United Nations and NATO
• desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces and federal workforce
• enacting the National Security Act of 1947 to create the National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Air Force and Joint Chiefs of Staff
• recognizing the newly formed State of Israel
• resisting communist expansion and establishing global alliances that resulted in a historic era of peace and prosperity
“President Truman’s tenacity, character and courage to confront difficult problems are values admired by fellow Missourians and people who study our history,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), who played a pivotal role in steering the Truman Statue Project. “No president faced more crucial decisions than those President Truman confronted in the first nine months of his presidency. It’s been an honor to work in the same Russell Senate offices he used for the last 12 years.”
“The new Truman statue at the U.S. Capitol is a fitting way to immortalize the legacy of my grandfather as a leading architect of many of our modern democratic institutions,” said Clifton Truman Daniel, Truman’s eldest grandson and Truman Library Institute Honorary Chair. “Guided by a belief in fairness and opportunity for all Americans, my grandfather took full responsibility for his decisions, a steadfast value evident in the iconic ‘The Buck Stops Here!’ sign on his desk in the Oval Office.”
Truman Charts America’s Course for Civil Rights
To the astonishment of many, including many in his own party, President Truman made one of the most significant decisions in U.S. history for the advancement of racial equality that set the course for civil rights for the rest of the century. On July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 to mandate the desegregation of the federal workforce and the Armed Forces.
“The world needs to know about this man from Missouri who did so much for this country and whose name must be placed among those who’ve done the most for racial equality in America,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, who was instrumental in initiating the Truman Statue project. Cleaver proudly represents Missouri’s 5th congressional district – the district of Harry Truman’s hometown of Independence, Mo.
“President Truman’s decision to eliminate racial discrimination within America’s armed forces and federal workforce was a true display of moral leadership – and a monumental contribution to the American Civil Rights movement,” added Cleaver. “He stepped forward and placed himself directly in the line of fire – even putting his reelection in jeopardy. But he did what was right and necessary for the U.S. to carry the mantle as the world’s leader in the cause of democracy and human rights. For that, I’m pleased he will make his return to the U.S. Capitol to inspire the next generation of Americans to defend the sacred values of democracy, freedom and equality for all.”
Truman Becomes 10th President in Capitol Rotunda
Representing the State of Missouri, the seven and half-foot bronze likeness of the 33rd president will stand atop a three-foot inscribed pedestal in the Capitol Rotunda, flanked by George Washington (1934, bronze) and Ulysses S. Grant (1899, marble), along with fellow commanders in chief lining the Rotunda:
• Thomas Jefferson (1834, bronze)
• Abraham Lincoln (1871, marble)
• James Garfield (1886, marble)
• Andrew Jackson (1928, bronze)
• Dwight David Eisenhower (2003, bronze)
• Ronald Wilson Reagan (2009, bronze)
• Gerald Ford (2011, bronze)
To make way for President Truman, the statue of Alexander Hamilton (1868, marble) in the Rotunda will be relocated to the Hall of Columns. Other statues in the Rotunda include a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1986, bronze) and the Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (1920, marble).
Truman will become the 10th presidential statue in the Capitol Rotunda, the domed, circular room in the center of the U.S. Capitol. Truman’s bronze statue will also become part of the National Statuary Hall Collection comprised of 100 statues – two sent by each of the 50 states – to honor persons notable in their history. In 2019, the Missouri State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution to bring President Truman to the Capitol to replace its 1899 marble statue of Thomas Hart Benton, a five-term U.S. Senator from Missouri (great-great uncle of the American painter from Missouri). Benton will be moved to the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Truman will join Francis Preston Blair (1899, marble), a Missouri statesman who fought in the Civil War and was active in preventing the state from joining the Confederacy. Blair will be relocated to National Statuary Hall.
Portraying a President in Motion
President Truman wasn’t one to stand still. In the pre-Secret Service days, Harry often startled DC natives with his frequent unaccompanied daily strolls.
“Truman was a vigorous man who seemed to always be in motion.,” said Tom Corbin, the artist and sculptor commissioned by the Truman Library Institute to create the Truman statue. “In contrast to many other statues at the Capitol that feel static and unapproachable, Truman is uniquely portrayed descending steps – as if he’s walking down the stairs of the Capitol or the White House – with a confident, open and welcoming quality.”
Corbin’s bronze sculptures are in over 22 showrooms and galleries internationally. Notable public bronze installations in Missouri include the Firefighters Fountain and Memorial; the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden; the United Nations Peace Plaza; the Children’s Fountain; the Country Club Plaza; and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“This definitive Harry Truman statue is both the presidential figure that he certainly was and the approachable, common man he saw himself to be,” added Corbin.
“We spent time a lot of time reviewing portraits, photographs, videos and personal items from Truman’s presidential years,” said Cassie Pikarsky, director of strategic initiatives for the Truman Library Institute and Project Lead for the Truman Statue. “We also worked with members of Truman’s family to make sure to get every detail correct – from his World War I lapel pin and pocket square fold in his signature double-breasted suit, to his Masonic ring with the number 33 that he always wore, and his signature glasses.”
“President Truman’s statue will stand as a captivating symbol of his enduring legacy for more than three million visitors to our nation’s capital every year,” said Patrick Ottensmeyer, chair-elect of the Truman Library Institute and CEO of Kansas City Southern. “The lessons of Truman’s historic presidency to safeguard democracy become more relevant every day. Now more than ever, people from all generations – across the country and around the world – are looking to the extraordinary example of Truman’s honorable and principled leadership to inspire and guide us forward.”
About the Truman Library Institute
The Truman Library Institute is the member-supported, nonprofit partner of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum, one of 15 presidential libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration. The Truman Library Institute recently led a $30 million renovation of the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. The Truman Library Institute draws on President Truman’s legacy to enrich public understanding of history, the presidency, and America’s unique form of government. This mission is achieved through the development and funding of world-class museum exhibits, a robust international research grant program, public forums, and nationally acclaimed education programs serving more than 50,000 students and teachers each year.