Iowa Legislature approves Borlaug statue in U.S. Capitol

March 22, 2011 by EVE   · Comments Off

Published on March 22, 2011, in Eastern Iowa Government:

UPDATED: DES MOINES – Sen. James Harlan’s days in the U.S. Capitol are numbered.

The former principal of Iowa City College, president of Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant and slavery opponent will be replaced by Iowa native Norman Borlaug.

House Joint Resolution 16, approved 72-12 by the House and 47-1 by the Senate March 22, calls for replacing the statue of Harlan in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection with one of Norman Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize grew up near Cresco and went on to a world-wide career in plant breeding and was known as the father of the “green revolution.”

Gov. Terry Branstad will sign the resolution at 4 p.m. March 23 with John Ruan III and Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, chairman and president, respectively, of the World Food Prize, and members of the Iowa congressional delegation on hand.

“This is truly a historic occasion,” Branstad said. “Dr. Borlaug’s legacy in feeding a billion people marks him as one of Iowa’s and America’s greatest heroes. Having his statue in our nation’s capital will ensure that his legacy endures.”

Borlaug’s achievements in plant breeding are credited with saving of as many as a billion lives, which has lead to speculation that he has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived. Borlaug was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Quinn called the timing of the Legislature’s action fitting as Borlaug’s 97th birthday would be March 25 and the World Food Prize this year celebrates 25 years of recognizing great achievements in science and agriculture. Borlaug founded the World Food Prize Foundation after winning the Nobel peace Prize to bring more attention to those working on scientific advancements in agriculture.

“This is such a marvelous tribute to Dr. Borlaug. I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to the bipartisan leadership of the Iowa Legislature for this action,” Quinn said. “Norm personified Iowa and America, through his hard work and relentless drive to improve the quality of life around the globe, and was one of the first pioneers to take the great learnings of American science beyond our borders. We should all strive to be as dedicated as Norm to advancing humankind.”

Each state may have two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Currently, Iowa has Harlan, who was elected to the Senate as a Free Soiler – a party that opposed the expansion of slavery into western territories. Later, he ran as a Republican.

The other statue is of Samuel Kirkwood of Iowa City, who served two terms as governor and was appointed to fill Harlan’s unexpired term in the Senate.

Both men also served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, noted that the Harlan statue has been in the U.S. Capitol for 101 years and Kirkwood’s for 98.

“So we honor them, we are very pleased to have them there,” she said, “but at this point it is not unreasonable to consider bringing one of them home to join us here at the Iowa State Capitol for continued residence and to place another statue in the United States Capitol.”

House members said they were not aware of any particular reason why they choose to replace the Harlan statue rather than the Kirkwood statue.

Wilhelm said that after reading the biographies of the two men, she thought it was more fitting to keep the Kirkwood statue in the Capitol.

However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, has two members of his caucus looking at whether the Kirkwood statue should be replaced, too, perhaps by a notable Iowa woman.

Lawmakers are interested in moving the Harlan statue to the Iowa Capitol if the National Statuary Hall will release it. They are looking into the costs associated with the move.

Wilhelm understands all funds for a Borlaug statue as well as cost of moving the Harlan statue would be paid with donations, not tax dollars.

The Harlan statue has stood in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Statues since 1910. Kirkwood’s statue has been in the National Statuary Hall since 1913.

UPDATE: The Iowa House approved the resolution 72-12 March 22.

DES MOINES — Samuel Kirkwood is safe – for now.

Samuel Jordan Kirkwood statue in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. (Photo courtesy of the National Statuary Hall Collection)

However, Civil War-era Sen. James Harlan will lose his spot in the U.S. Capitol if a legislation introduced in the Iowa House is adopted by both chambers of the Iowa Legislature.

House Joint Resolution 16 calls for replacing the statue of Harlan in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection with one of Iowa native Norman Borlaug. Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize grew up near Cresco and went on to a world-wide career in plant breeding and was known as the father of the “green revolution.”

Each state may have two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Currently, Iowa has Harlan, who was elected to the Senate as a Free Soiler – a party that opposed the expansion of slavery into western territories. Later, he ran as a Republican. He also served as principal of Iowa City College and president of Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant prior to serving in the U.S. Senate. The other statue is of Samuel Kirkwood of Iowa City, who served two terms as governor and was appointed to fill Harlan’s unexpired term in the Senate.

Borlaug’s achievements in plant breeding are credited with saving of as many as a billion lives, which has lead to speculation that he has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived. Borlaug was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, noted Tuesday that the Harlan statue has been in the U.S. Capitol for 101 years and Kirkwood’s for 98.

“So we honor them, we are very pleased to have them there,” she said, “but at this point it is not unreasonable to consider bringing one of them home to join us here at the Iowa State Capitol for continued residence and to place another statue in the United States Capitol.”

Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm, D-Cresco, ran a similar resolution last year that was approved by the Senate. However, the House took no action. She plans on running HJR 16.

House members said they were not aware of any particular reason why they choose to replace the Harlan statue rather than the Kirkwood statue.

Wilhelm said that after reading the biographies of the two men, she thought it was more fitting to keep the Kirkwood statue in the Capitol.

However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, has two members of his caucus looking at whether the Kirkwood statue should be replaced, too, perhaps by a notable Iowa woman.

Lawmakers are interested in moving the Harlan statue to the Iowa Capitol if the National Statuary Hall will release it. They are looking into the costs associated with the move.

Wilhelm understands all funds for a Borlaug statue as well as cost of moving the Harlan statue would be paid with donations, not tax dollars.

The Harlan statue has stood in the U.S. Capitol’s Hall of Statues since 1910. Kirkwood’s statue has been in the National Statuary Hall since 1913.

Read the full article at Eastern Iowa Government.

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