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.

Bartholdi Fountain

Bartholdi‘s Renaissance-style fountain of cast iron was first exhibited at the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Congress bought it a year later for $6,000.

Its first location was at the base of Capitol Hill to the south of where the Grant Memorial is located. Later it was removed and stored. And in 1932 the 30-foot-tall sculpture was moved to its current location near the U.S. Botanic Garden, which operates Bartholdi Park.

The sculptor, Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, also created the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

The fountain was made for the centennial exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. After the close of the exposition it was brought to this city and erected in its present site in the Botanic Garden, just north of the conservatory.


Evening star. (Washington, D.C.), 17 April 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>


A cenotaph is an “empty tomb” or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere.

The history of Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St SE, Washington, DC 20003) begins around the beginning of the 19th Century.  The cemetery ground was part of Christ Church on Capitol Hill and originally referred to as “Washington Parish Burial Ground.”  After Congress began building cenotaphs, monuments, to congress members who died in office the public and the members of Congress began referring to it as “Congressional burying ground,” and eventually Congressional Cemetery.

There are a couple of groupings of cenotaphs. The ones located close to the entrance and Chapel are the earliest ones.


Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon

Robert Alphonso Taft (September 8, 1889 – July 31, 1953)
: Wheeler Williams, New York
Architect, Douglas William Orr, New Haven, Conn.
Bells: molded by firm George Paccard’s Son, Annecy, France
Dedicated: April 14, 1959
Dedication: President Eisenhower, and former President Hoover
Cost: Public Funds: $0, Private Funds: $1.2 million

In 1954, a year after Robert A. Taft, Representative from Ohio, died suddenly from cancer at the age of 63, a foundation was formed in his name for the express purpose of dedicating a memorial to the Senator from Ohio, and “to perpetuate the high standards and ideals of public service…” that he exemplified. Robert Taft was the son of President William Howard Taft and so respected by his colleagues that he was called “Mr. Republican.”

In 1955 Congress dedicated a site on the Capitol grounds for the memorial, and the Foundation began fundraising.

All the funds, more than one million dollars, for the memorial were raised by private subscription.

The Taft sculpture took 2 1/2 years to complete and the carillon was built in about 2 years. The carillon tower is 115-foot high and made of Tennessee marble. The dark brown Cornellian marble base stone comes from Cold Springs, Minnesota, and the granite steps are from Deer Island, Maine.

The tower holds 27 bells, cast in France, the largest of which is a six-ton “G” bell. The bells were cast after the music for the bells was created. A technician from the French bell foundry installed and calibrated the bells. The music is created using a mechanism similar to a player-piano.

The dedication for the memorial was held on April 14, 1959. The day before the dedication a cornerstone ceremony was held, and “a small alabaster elephant, a handful of coins and other memorabilia were locked in a cornerstone.”

President Eisenhower, who beat Robert Taft in the 1952 Presidential Republican primary, joined with former President Herbert Hoover and leaders of Congress to praise the late United States Senator from Ohio. At the end of the ceremony, the bells rang out in a requiem. There were about 5,000 people gathered on the slope for the dedication ceremony.

Herbert Hoover praised Robert A. Taft this way:

“What does matter is that the essential virtues among men and women which made this country strong, which built great cities and verdant farms out of a wilderness, which stand for moral principles in public life, be preserved by reminders of such men as Robert A. Taft.

Fortunately, in the belfry of this monument there is a magnificent carillon. When these great bells ring out, it will be a summons to integrity and courage.”

During the year after the dedication  the carillon played one of the 27 programmed musical numbers at random intervals. In 1960 that was cut down to two – played at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The carillon is also programmed to ring 422 times between 8a.m. and 8p.m. The bells rang 16 times on the hour – ringing on the hour, 15-minutes, 30-minutes, and 45-minutes – before tolling the actual time.

Taft was the grandson of Attorney General and Secretary of War Alphonso Taft, and the son of President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft.

Robert Taft is the first Senator in history to be honored with memorial in the Capital. His is the first public memorial to be erected on Capitol grounds; and the first public memorial to be erected with private funds.