To Commemorate 2nd Anniversary of D.C.’s Frederick Douglass Statue Unveiling, Tomorrow, Norton Introduces Bill to Place Pierre L’Enfant Statue in U.S. Capitol

Jun 18, 2015
Press Release

D.C.’s 2nd Statue in U.S. Capitol Would Make it Equal to the States

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to permanently place a statue depicting Pierre L’Enfant, a District of Columbia citizen and designer of the city’s master plan, in the U.S. Capitol.  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 have 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, which currently is at D.C.’s One Judiciary Square Office Building, is waiting to join D.C.’s other statue in the U.S. Capitol statue, Frederick Douglass, which was placed in the U.S. Capitol Emancipation Hall by a Norton bill passed in 2012 and officially unveiled on June 19, 2013.  Each state has two statues in the U.S. Capitol.

“The city rejoiced when we won representation from Congress in our Capitol with a statue depicting Frederick Douglass, one the great icons of the nation and of the District of Columbia, whose home in the District is a major historical site,” Norton said.  “A statue of Pierre L’Enfant would give D.C. residents the full recognition they deserve among the states with a second statue, and would do much more.  Pierre L’Enfant is the D.C. citizen who designed the nation’s capital itself and whose architectural vision still defines the city.  This choice by D.C. residents honors a Revolutionary War icon of our history and a man whose revolutionary daring encourages our own determination for statehood.”

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

June 18, 2015

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, who traveled to the United States to serve with the United States in the Revolutionary War.  In March 1791, L’Enfant was asked 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.

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