Posts Tagged ‘Franklin Simmons’


Major General John A. Logan

Major General John A. Logan is a public artwork by American artist Franklin Simmons, who also sculpted The Peace Monument located on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building.  It is located in Logan Circle at the intersection of 13th Street, P Street, Rhode Island Avenue, and Vermont Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.  An equestrian statue, it is mounted on a bronze base and depicts Logan wearing a long coat, boots, gloves and a hat, with long hair and a drooping mustache. He is mounted on his horse, holding onto the reins with his left hand and holding a downward-pointed sword in his right.  The statue is part of a group of statues entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city, and are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Alexander “Black Jack” Logan was an American soldier and political leader.  He served in the Mexican-American War and was a General in the Union Army during the Civil War, during which the men under his command gave him his nickname based on his dark eyes, his black hair and mustache, and swarthy complexion.

Logan later entered politics as a Douglas Democrat, so named after fellow Illinois politician Stephen A. Douglas.  He was initially elected and served as a State Senator in Illinois, during which time he helped pass a law to prohibit all African Americans, including freedmen, from settling in the state.  Logan subsequently went on to be elected as a U.S. Congressman, but resigned after three years to join the Union Army.  After the war, Logan resumed his political career, now as a Republican, and was again elected to Congress.  During this time he was selected as one of the managers to conduct the impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson.  Later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but after failing to win reelection returned to Illinois to practice law.  He later ran for and regained his seat in the U.S. Senate.  He also ran but was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President on the ticket with James G. Blaine in the election of 1884.  After the unsuccessful run for national office, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate, where he continued to serve until his death.

Despite his success in a variety of professional and personal endeavors over the course of his lifetime, he had no schooling until age 14.  It was then that he studied for three years at Shiloh College.  After leaving to serve in the Mexican-American War, he came back to study law in the office of an uncle, and then went on to graduate from the Law Department of the University of Louisville, after which he also practiced law with success intermittently throughout his lifetime.

However, despite his very successful military, political and legal careers, Logan is perhaps remembered as the founder of Memorial Day and the driving force behind it being designated as an official Federal holiday every year on the last Monday of May.  Originally known as Decoration Day, it was intended to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.  It took years, however, until the Federal holiday, which extended to only Federal employees and D.C., was adopted nationally and by the states.  New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, and most other Northern states soon followed suit.  However, the states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday founded by a former Union General and memorialized those who, in Logan’s own words, “united to suppress the late rebellion.”  Much of the South did not adopt the Memorial Day holiday until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  Several Southern states continue to also set aside a day for specifically honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.  It is also observed on the last Monday in May in Virginia, but the date varies in other states.

Upon his death, Logan’s body lay in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building before being laid to rest at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, the forerunner of Arlington National Cemetery.  There he is entombed in a mausoleum along with his wife and other family members.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

The Peace Monument

The Peace Monument

The Peace Monument, also known as the Naval Monument or Civil War Sailors Monument, stands on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building in Peace Circle, located at First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.  Part of a three-part sculptural group which includes the James A. Garfield Monument and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, the Peace Monument was erected in 1877-1878 to honor naval deaths during the Civil War.  It is part of a group of statues entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.,” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city, and are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 44-foot white Carrara marble neoclassical monument was designed by Admiral David D. Porter, one of the top naval commanders of the Civil War, who originally conceived it to be built in Annapolis, Maryland, the home of the United States Naval Academy.  The monument prominently features sculptures by American artist Franklin Simmons, who also sculpted the equestrian figure of General John A. Logan at the center of Logan Circle in D.C.  The monument is surrounded by a basin built on a raised platform, which was designed by Edward Clark, the Architect of the Capitol at that time.

The monument is topped with a statue which features two figures, one representing Grief crying on the shoulder of a female personification of History.  The History figure holds tablet in her left hand that reads “They died that their country might live.”  A statue featuring a female figure of Victory stands below Grief and History, holding a laurel wreath and an oak branch to signify strength.  At her feet are infant representations of the Roman gods Neptune, representing the Navy, and Mars, representing the Marines.  Another statue, depicting a female figure of Peace holding an olive branch, stands facing the Capitol Building.  An inscription at the base of the monument reads, “In memory of the officers, seamen and marines of the United States Navy who fell in defense of the Union and liberty of their country, 1861-1865.”

However, upon close examination it is apparent that the memorial was never completed.  Based on the proposed design, it was supposed to also include a decorative fountain with bronze dolphins spouting water into the base, and four ornate street lamps at its corners. But when construction was completed these decorative elements were absent.

Instead, the base includes four bare holes that simply dump water out into the surrounding basin.  And the four granite piers at the corners of the memorial have screws sticking out of them where the street lamps were intended to be installed.  It would seem evident from the unfinished construction that they were expected to be added at some point.  The fact that when construction of the monument was halted but no formal dedication ceremony was held, as was the custom when a memorial was completed, would further indicate The Peace Monument’s unfinished status.  Presumably, the ceremony was put off pending final completion of the memorial, and to date there is no record of a dedication ceremony ever having taken place.

In a city replete with countless memorials to wars, the military, and individual soldiers, it is disappointing that after 137 years, the Federal government has chosen not to complete one of the few memorials dedicated to peace.