A statue of Harry S. Truman appears to be on track for placement in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the year Truman became president.
The Truman Library Institute has commissioned area artist Tom Corbin as the sculptor. His works can be seen locally at such places as the Country Club Plaza, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Firefighters Memorial and the Kauffman Foundation.
The Truman Library Institute says current and former board members along with Truman family and friends reviewed proposals from six artists and then reviewed presentations from four finalists.
The National Statuary Hall Collection has 100 statues, two from each state. Only a handful are of presidents – Washington, Jackson, Garfield, Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan – but all of those are in the Rotunda, a highly visible spot seen by many visitors.
Missouri’s two statues have been in the collection since 1899 – Francis Preston Blair Jr., who played a key role in keeping Missouri in the Union during the Civil War, and Thomas Hart Benton, who worked for statehood, who was the state’s first U.S. senator and served 30 years, and who prominently opposed slavery in the decades before the Civil War. Those statues are in less prominent places than the Rotunda.
States occasionally swap out a statue. The money for a new statue and related costs is raised privately.
As things stand, Truman’s statue will replace Benton’s. The Missouri General Assembly 17 years ago voted to put Truman in and take Blair out, but fundraising sputtered. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II took up the cause about five years ago, and the Truman Library Institute raised the needed money. But Missouri’s congressional Republicans and Republicans in control of the General Assembly have made their preference for keeping Blair clear. The state Senate has approved a resolution to remove Benton instead of Blair, and that awaits action in the House and approval by Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
The Benton statue would be returned to Missouri.
Truman Library Institute executives have talked about the possibility of putting the Truman statue on display for some time locally before sending it to Washington.