Ohio Representation in the U.S. Capitol
By Congressman Mike Turner
The state of Ohio is well-represented in our nation’s Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Ohio’s rich history has provided the Capitol Building with many artifacts, portraits, paintings, and statues. The state of Ohio is known as the “Mother of Presidents” because seven U.S. presidents are from the state of Ohio, more than any other state in the union.
Every state is permitted to display statues of two of its local heroes in the Capitol Building. Ohio chose to immortalize President James Garfield, the nation’s 20th president, with one of our statues. Garfield was a Civil War veteran elected president in 1880. He is the only sitting U.S. Congressman to be elected president and was unfortunately assassinated during his time in office. Garfield’s statue can be found in a prominent location in the Capitol Rotunda, where it has been on display since 1886.
Another sight in the Capitol that might prove to be particularly interesting to those visiting from Southwest Ohio is a portrait of the man for whom the City of Dayton, my hometown, is named for. Jonathan Dayton was a Captain during the American Revolution and signer of the U.S. Constitution. After being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey, he became the fourth Speaker of the House in our nation’s history. He also served in the U.S. Senate. In addition, Dayton became a major landholder and owned 250,000 acres of land in Ohio. Jonathan Dayton’s portrait hangs at the bottom of the stairs outside the Speaker’s lobby behind the House chamber.
Directly across from the Capitol is the Longworth House Office Building where my office is located. The building was named in honor of House Speaker Nicholas Longworth, from Cincinnati, Ohio. Longworth was married to President Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, Alice. Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, which included the period when the building was authorized. There is also a portrait of Nicholas Longworth in the Speaker’s Lobby.
Perhaps the most striking sight anywhere on the Capitol grounds is the frescoed frieze inside the Capitol rotunda. Naturally, it involves famous Ohioans too. The fresco was designed by Constantino Brumidi, who began work on it in 1877. Brumidi died in 1880 and his assistant Filippo Costaggi was hired to finish the eight remaining scenes. However, when Costaggi finished in 1889 a gap of 31 feet remained and Congress didn’t allocate money to complete the work for approximately 60 years. In 1953, the frieze was finished with scenes of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the Birth of Aviation. The frieze inside the Capitol rotunda is now complete with an illustration of Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio and the birth of powered flight.
These are just a few of the great Ohioans that can be found on a tour of the Capitol grounds. Since Ohio’s admission to the Union in 1803, we have been a pivotal state and made valuable contributions to American culture. Some of the most important Ohioans are prominently displayed in and around our nation’s Capitol. I am hopeful that you will contact my office and schedule a time to come to Washington and see firsthand our state’s contributions to our Nation.