The Iowa Senate has voted unanimously to remove one of the two Iowa statues in “Statuary Hall” in the capitol building in Washington D.C. The likeness of a Civil War era senator would be replaced with a statue of Iowa native Norman Borlaug, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize. Each state is allowed two statues. Iowa’s honorees are two Civil War-era heroes.
The modern-day hero Norman Borlaug grew up near Cresco and went on to a world-wide career in plant breeding. He died this past fall. State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco offered the resolution to honor the man known as the father of the “green revolution.”
“Dr. Borlaugh conducted groundbreaking work in bringing varieties of wheat to feed starving populations across the globe,” Wilhelm said Tuesday on the Iowa Senate floor. In 1864, congress passed a law which allows each state to have statues of two “notable citizens” on display in the U.S. Capitol.
One is a statue of Samuel Kirkwood who served as governor of Iowa during the Civil War. The other honors James Harlan, a former U.S. Senator whose daughter married Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, and his likeness would be removed from the U.S. Capitol displayed at the state capitol in Des Moines under the plan state senators endorsed. State Senator Dennis Black of Grinnell says he’s a bit sad to think one of those men will no longer be seen by visitors at the U.S. Capitol.
“With Kirkwood and with Harlan being such integral parts of the decision at that particular time,” Black says. About a decade ago Congress passed a law allowing states to replace the figures in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building. But the switch can only be made if a state’s legislature and governor approve a resolution endorsing the switch.