James Harlan statue will grace Iowa Wesleyan College's campus
James Harlan is returning to Mt. Pleasant.
Make that the statue of the former Iowa Wesleyan College president who later served as a United States Senator and was a close personal friend to President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, a statue of Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug is replacing the statue of Harlan in the Hall of Columns at the U.S. Capitol building. Each state is represented by two statues of people of the state’s choosing. Iowa’s other statue is of Samuel Kirkwood, who served as governor of Iowa in the 19th century and for whom Kirkwood College is named.
Last spring, State Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant, sponsored a bill, which passed the Iowa Legislature, to return the statue to Mt. Pleasant and the campus of IWC. College officials are unsure when the statue will arrive but it will be placed between the Chadwick Library and the Harlan-Lincoln House on the north edge of the campus.
The Harlan-Lincoln House, located on West Broad Street, is the former home of Harlan and his family. It has been preserved and contains many family artifacts. Harlan’s daughter, Mary Eunice, was married to Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Lincoln.
Harlan returned to his home here after serving in the U.S. Senate and as interior secretary in President Andrew Johnson’s administration. He died in Mt. Pleasant in 1899 and is buried along with other family members at Forest Home Cemetery.
The Harlan Hotel, located on Jefferson Street, was another of Harlan’s homes while the family lived in Mt. Pleasant. It was built as a hotel with living quarters for him and his family.
A change in the federal law in 2003 allows states to remove and replace statues in the U.S. Capitol. However, the order must be passed by the respective state’s legislature. The Iowa Legislature voted in early 2013 to replace Harlan with Borlaug. Heaton was one of 12 House members opposing the switch.
The bronze-cast Harlan statue has been in the National Statuary Hall since 1910.