John Marshall

Statue: John Marshall (1755 – 1835), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Location: John Marshall Park, 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Dedication: May 10, 1884, original statue
Dedication: May 10, 1983, John Marshall Place Park and replica statue
Sculptor: William Wetmore Story

Memorial Fund

John Marshall died in Philadelphia on July 6, 1835. The next day the Philadelphia bar association met and resolved to erect a monument to John Marshall for the people of the United States. The memorial fund was created and subscriptions were collected including contributions of $10 by the Philadelphia bar members. A total of $3,000 was collected in 1835.

The $3,000 was not sufficient to support the design and creation of a monument and was therefore invested in city bonds of Philadelphia with subsequent accrued interest reinvested in bonds.

The committee’s work stopped.

The idea of a statue to John Marshall was eventually revived. And in 1882 Senator Johnson, of Virginia, introduced a resolution for a statue to John Marshall in the Nation’s Capital. The resolution passed.

It was at this time that there was a discovery in Philadelphia of the Marshall memorial fund.

45 years had passed since the Marshall memorial committee had collected $3,000 dollars from Philadelphia bar members. When the committee had deemed that amount insufficient for the purposes of building a memorial, the funds had been put aside and into a fund package. By the time the Congressional resolution for a national memorial to John Marshall passed  the funds had increased in value to $20,000. The funds were re-designated for the memorial.

Congress passed the resolution for a memorial on March 10, 1882, with Congress appropriating $20,000 and the Philadelphia bar donating $20,000 for the memorial fund.

Placement of original statue

The bronze statue of John Marshall first Chief Justice of the United States, was unveiled on the Capitol grounds on May 10, 1884. The statue was originally placed on the foot of the west entrance of the Capitol.

In 1940 the House of Representatives suggested transferring the John Marshall statue from the Capitol grounds to a site near the new Supreme Court building, but the statue wasn’t moved until 1982. It was moved to the Supreme Court Building in February 1982.

Description of statue

The statue depicts John Marshall seated in a chair wearing a judicial robe that drapes to his feet. His hand is outstretched as if he is delivering an opinion. The front of the base bears the inscription:

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States.

Erected by the members of the bar and Congress. A.D. 1884

The side panels are 6′ by 6′ in length and 2′ x 9″ in height, with figures over 2′ in height.

The rear of the pedestal is marked with an ornate wreath of oak and laurels. One either side are allegorical figures, with the right-hand side entitled, “Minerva dictating the constitution to Young America,” and the left-hand side entitled “Victory Leading Young America to Swear Fidelity on the Alter of the Union.”

The sculptor was William Wetmore (W.W.) Story, whose father Joseph Story served as a Supreme Court Justice and was known as one of the first great legal writers.

According to the W.W. Story, “The subjects are allegorical, one representing Minerva dictating to Young America, seated at a table, the constitution, while beyond Minerva, to the right, are two seated figures, representing Philosophy and Jurisprudence and Infant America. On the other side are Commerce, Education bringing forward a young boy, Agriculture — eight figures in all.

The other subject is Victory bringing forward young America to swear allegiance on the altar of the union, on which she deposits her sword and lance, while on the other side of the altar stands Religion pointing upward and beyond her is Justice and Equity. Beyond these Age, a dignified old man is seated, and Youth, a young girl, is leaning upon his shoulder. On the other side, and beyond America, is the seated figure of an Indian, sadly contemplating the former, representing the aboriginal inhabitant over with Victory and America have triumphed.”

Development of John Marshall Place Park

In the 1980s the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) commissioned several parks, and other construction, along Pennsylvania Avenue including John Marshall Park, situated at 4th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The area that made up the park had been residential with row houses and hotels in the 19th century, which were razed in 1969. Marshall had lived in that neighborhood when he worked in Washington, D.C.

The park is made up of three “platforms” defined by paved walkways, trees, and grass with seating creating borders. There is a sundial in the park, which was a replica of a sundial John Marshall had at his in Richmond. The park also has fountains with bronze lily pads, fish, frogs and dragonflies.  Along the seating of the middle park are two seated, bronze chess players designed by Lloyd Lillie.

John Marshal Memorial Park is 2 acres, cost $2.5 million to construct, and was completed in 1985.

In the final park plans a statue of John Marshall was approved for the park. The statue  is a duplication of the Marshall statue originally located in front of the west-side of the Capitol, and now housed in the Supreme Court building. The statue pedestal is 6 feet high and made of the same granite as the walls in the park. The pedestal was supposed to have the same moldings as the original design. It does not.

About John Marshall

John Marshall was born in Fauquier county, Virginia on September 24, 1755. He fought in the Revolutionary war and became a captain in 1777. He was at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and fought at Monmouth. In 1782 he was elected a member of the Virginia house of delegates from Fauquier and began after the war ended.

Marshall and James Madison (4th President of the United States) took part in the Virginia convention to accept the constitution.

He later served as a representative in Congress, as an envoy to France and as Secretary of State. In 1801 he was nominated as Chief Justice of the United States, and the Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment. He served as Chief Justice for 34 years. he died in Philadelphia on July 6, 1835, and buried near his wife, Mary Ambler, in Richmond. VA.


The Marshall Memorial, Evening star., May 10, 1884

Perpetuated in Bronze: Unveiling of the Statue of Chief Justice Marshall. The Washington Post, 11 May 1884.

J. J. Darlington Memorial and Fountain

Statue: Joseph J. Darlington, attorney
Location: 5th Street and Indiana Avenue, NW (District of Columbia Court of Appeals)
Sculptor: Carl Paul Jennewein, New York
Dedication: November 1923
Cost to taxpayers: $0

This little statue to a prominent Washington attorney by a prominent sculptor caused quite a stir when it was unveiled. There is very little written about the inception of this memorial, but it only took 3 years to erect — practically a record in terms of memorial placement.

Joseph James Darlington was born in Due West, South Carolina. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1875 and began practicing law. He was very active in the community and served as the dean of the local bar; a member of the joint citizens committee on suffrage; president of the City Orphan Asylum; a member of the Fifth Baptist Church and a member of the boards of directors of the Washington Loan and Trust Company and the Federal National Bank.

At the time of his death on June 24, 1920, Joseph J. Darlington had been an attorney in Washington, D.C., for 46 years. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery (Georgetown) after funeral services at the Fifth Baptist Church. Judges of District courts, member of the local bar association and committee members from the Southern Society of Washington attended the ceremony.

After his death the Board of Directors of the Washington Railway and Electric Company and the Potomac Electric Power Company adopted resolutions of respect for Darlington, saying: ‘His intellect was of the highest; his love for humanity unbounded; his truthfulness was unquestioned; and his honor was flawless. In his passing a glorious example of all that is best and worthwhile has been made clear to all of those who knew him.’

The Southern Society of Washington, of which Darlington was a member, also passed a resolution, that stated, in part: ‘In the death of Joseph James Darlington the District of Columbia loses one of the most distinguished lawyers at its bar and the South a son who has attained high distinction.’

So his friends got together and lobbied to have a memorial placed in Washington in Darlington’s memory. In 1922, Senator Brandegee of Connecticut introduced a resolution in Congress to erect a statue in memory of Darlington. The resolution stated that no appropriations were to be provided for the memorial and that the statue couldn’t be placed on the Mall or the Capitol grounds. The resolution passed 17 days later.

After the resolution passed the Darlington memorial committee handed over the entire process to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The Commission invited six American sculptors to submit designs; 3 submitted designs. Carl Paul Jennewein’s design was chosen unanimously.

The memorial consists of a gilded, nude “Maiden and Fawn” on a marble water fountain. It was the first sculpture by Jennewein to be displayed in Washington, D.C. It was praised at the Architectural league in New York in 1922, and in Baltimore in the spring of 1923, where it was on display before being moved to Washington in November 1923.

However, immediately after the unveiling the sculptural group was being criticized.

According to a piece in The Washington Post by Josephine Tighe, the criticism was less about the art of the sculpture, or the the fact that the maiden was nude, and more about the appropriateness as a memorial. A well-known sculptor at the time, Ulric J. Dunbar, called it an “inane representation,” and then continued by saying that there is “…no symbolism that is apparent to an intelligent public. Works of art, and especially memorials, should symbolize the outstanding characteristics of the person commemorated and should carry these characteristics so plainly told that the ordinary passerby could interpret them. I knew Mr. Darlington very well and the statue, as it stands, is meaningless, so far as this able lawyer and kindly gentleman is concerned.”

In the same article, Frank Hogan, who served on the executive committee for the memorial, defended the memorial saying: “It was decided that a memorial symbolical and beautiful would not only serve to commemorate Darlington, but would be an adornment to one of the parks in the Nation’s Capital long after those whose good fortune it was to know him and what he looked like has passed away.”

“The memorial,” said Hogan, “consists of a marble fountain surmounted by a group, consisting of a maiden and a fawn, in which the artist has sought to symbolize humanity at its best.”

The statue was taken down and cleaned during the renovations of the Courthouse between 2002 and 2009.


Births, Deaths, Marriages, The Washington Times, Tuesday, June 29, 1920

Supreme Court Adjourns for Funeral of Noted Lawyer, The Washington Herald., June 29, 1920, Page 7

Extolls Character of J.J. Darlington, The Washington Herald, August 1, 1920, page 3

Senator Proposes D.C. Darlington Monument, The Washington Times, Friday September 1, 1922

Senate Authorizes Darlington Memorial, The Washington Times, Tuesday September 19, 1922

Committee is named to honor Darlington: Fountain will be Dedicated in Judiciary Square this Month. The Washington Post, November 6, 1923

Comment on Darlington Memorial, by Josephine Tighe, The Washington Post, December 16, 1923, pg. 81

William Blackstone

Statue: Sir William Blackstone, English jurist (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780)
Location: 3rd and Pennsylvania, NW
Sculptor: Paul Wayland Bartlett
Unveiling: 1943, Cast in bronze: 1926
Dedication: none
Cost to taxpayers: $10,000, ABA members raised $50,000 for the statue

The statue of Sir William Blackstone is tucked in between the E. Barrett Prettyman United State Courthouse – built around 1950 and was one of the last buildings constructed in the Judiciary Square complex – located at 333 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, and the William B. Bryant Annex, United States Courthouse.

This statue of Blackstone was never intended to be placed in Washington, D.C. let alone America. The statue at the corner of 3rd Street and Constitution is actually a refugee of the bombing of London during World War II.

In the 1920s the statue was commissioned by members of the American Bar Association (ABA) and was intended as a gift for the people of London. The members then raised approximately $50,000 for creation of the statue, and chose Paul Bartlett, an American living in Paris, as sculptor.

Unveiling day in July 1928 was inclement and the statue, which was to have stood in the Middle Temple outside the chambers where the real life Blackstone lived and worked, was moved to the Great Hall of Courts. The Middle Temple, seat of English jurisprudence – was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in 1941. After that it was decided to give the statue of Sir William Blackstone to the United State, and House bill 2106 of July 12, 1943, provided $10,000 for the purpose of accepting the work. In 1952, the 9-foot, 2,000-pound bronze statue of Sir William Blackstone was transferred yesterday from Judiciary Square to its current location in the square in front of the new United States Court House on Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street, NW.

Blackstone, considered to be the Father of English Law, was the author of Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1769 – a foundation of English law. His Commentaries became a basis for American and English legal systems. Blackstone was born in Cheapside, England, in 1723, the posthumous son of Charles Blackstone, English silk merchant. He attended Oxford and entered the temple in 1741.

Blackstone is shown in judicial robes, with a ceremonial wig, holding his Commentaries. Erected in 1943, the statue was presented by the sculptor’s wife to commemorate the ties between the United States and Britain. A smaller replica, Bartlett made a smaller stone likeness of the great lawmaker, because he deemed the other too large for the Great Hall given to the English Bar Association as a gift from the American Bar Association, stands in London.