Juneau group plans statue of William H. Seward
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – It’s not folly; some Juneau residents are proposing a bronze statue of William H. Seward.
Seward was the secretary of state under President Abraham Lincoln who acquired Alaska for the United States from Russia.
Critics at the time characterized the purchase as “Seward’s folly,” but the acquisition became one of Seward’s legacies.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the proposed statue Thursday at the Dimond Court Building, across from the Capitol, KTOO reported.
Supporters wearing hard hats, and name tags designating their places within a fictional Seward Cabinet, shoveled dirt into a plywood planter.
John Venables, a historic re-enactor who portrays Seward, proposed the statue. He said during the ceremony kicking off a fundraising and design campaign for the bronze statute that it was “a great day for Juneau, Alaska.”
Juneau architect Wayne Jensen says statues of Seward can be found elsewhere in the United States, but such a pivotal figure of Alaska history should have a statue in Juneau.
The hope is to have the statue ready by 2017, the 150th anniversary of the $7.2 million purchase of Alaska, or as it was known then, Russian America.
The state Department of Administration approved the plaza as the proposed site, the Juneau Empire reported.
A life-size statue of Seward can be found at the Loussac Library in Anchorage. It portrays Seward with a cane and top hat in his left hand and two books held to his chest in his right hand.
A plaque on the statue notes Seward’s accomplishments as “a dedicated abolitionist and an avowed expansionist,” according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Art Inventories Catalog. Seward visited Alaska in 1869, three years before his death, and predicted Alaska would become a state, according to the plaque.
The sculpture was by Richard MacDonald and was a gift from Arnold L. Muldoon.
Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org
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