As Part of Her ‘Free and Equal D.C.’ Series, Norton Introduces Bill to Place Pierre L’Enfant Statue in U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to permanently place a statue depicting Pierre L’Enfant, the designer of the District of Columbia’s master plan, in the U.S. Capitol. The bill is part of her “Free and Equal D.C.” series of legislation, which insists on equal rights for D.C. residents, which Norton has shown is possible under the Home Rule Act even before the District achieves statehood. Each state has two statues in the U.S. Capitol. Currently, D.C. is the only jurisdiction that is not a state with a statue in the Capitol. D.C.’s statue, which depicts Frederick Douglass, was placed in the U.S. Capitol by a Norton bill passed in 2012 and officially unveiled on June 19, 2013. In response to a D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) competition for D.C. statues in the Capitol in 2006, D.C. residents chose L’Enfant as one of the top ten Americans who had given distinguished service to the District. The DCCAH selection committee then chose L’Enfant as the second statue representing the District of Columbia to be commissioned and placed in the Capitol. L’Enfant’s statue is housed at the One Judiciary Square Office Building, which is owned by the District.
“D.C. took a step toward equality with the placement of our first statue, represented by Frederick Douglass, in the Capitol, when only states had been represented by statues before,” Norton said. “We recognize that our placement of the statue of Frederick Douglass was a historic first step, but D.C. should have a second statue in the Capitol as well. Perhaps more than any other figure, Pierre L’Enfant shaped the nation’s capital as we know it today with his architectural vision. L’Enfant’s statue sits ready to make the short trip from its current home at One Judiciary Square to the U.S. Capitol.”
Norton’s full introductory statement is below.
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Introduction of a bill to direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Pierre L’Enfant from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in the United States Capitol
July 12, 2017
Mr. Speaker, today I introduce a bill to direct the Joint Committee on the Library to accept a statue depicting Pierre L’Enfant from the District of Columbia and to provide for the permanent display of the statue in the United States Capitol.
Pierre L’Enfant was born in France in 1754. He was an engineer and an architect, and he traveled to the United States to serve with the United States in the Revolutionary War. In March 1791, L’Enfant was hired to develop the design for the District of Columbia. L’Enfant’s design for the city was so remarkable that it remains and is cherished today in the nation’s capital and throughout this country. L’Enfant’s design envisioned a federal and residential city with diagonal streets propelling from Congress and the President’s home, beautiful boulevards on local streets and neighborhoods, and open spaces for monuments, memorials and historical structures, all of which largely remain intact, protected as a historical treasure.
In 2006, the residents of the District of Columbia chose L’Enfant as one of the top ten Americans that have given distinguished service to the District, and the selection committee created by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities chose L’Enfant as the second statue from the District of Columbia to be placed in the United States Capitol. The District’s first choice for a statue was Frederick Douglass, and I am pleased that the Douglass statue now sits in Emancipation Hall. Because the United States Capitol does not currently appropriately recognize the contributions of Pierre L’Enfant, and because D.C. residents and stakeholders chose L’Enfant as a distinguished Washingtonian, this bill would require the Joint Committee on the Library to place the Pierre L’Enfant statue in the United States Capitol.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill.