Edison’s statue takes its place at U.S. Capitol

September 22, 2016
In The News

Inventor’s likeness is unveiled

By TRACIE MAURIELLO  | BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

WASHINGTON — He’s Ohio’s homegrown son, but other states have claims to Thomas Edison as well.

New Jersey claims Mr. Edison as its Wizard of Menlo Park, Kentucky offers tours of the Louisville home he briefly lived in while he worked as a telegrapher, and Michigan brags that he peddled newspapers in Port Huron.

Now Washington can claim the legendary inventor too.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Capitol became home to an 800-pound statue of Mr. Edison holding an incandescent light bulb — his most famous invention — in a hand outstretched as if giving the gift of light to the world.

The bronze statue from Ohio was unveiled at a dedication ceremony in National Statuary Hall, where larger-than-life replicas of other states’ most revered figures encircle a cavernous space where Congress met in the early 1800s.

“The statues that fill the Capitol serve as far more than commemoration; they are an inspiration,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California during the dedication. “Let Edison’s presence in these hallowed halls challenge us to embrace that same determination, dissatisfaction and daring, and optimism.”

More than 300 people attended, including sculptor Alan Cottrill of Zanesville, four direct descendants of Mr. Edison, and seven other relatives who came from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Milan, Ohio, where the young inventor got his rocky start.

“The family coalesced around Milan because he wanted it to be an inspiration,” said great-grandson Heywood Sloane of Glenmoore, Pa. “Where he came from was so humble. He was home-schooled, he had hearing loss from scarlet fever, and look at all the things he did.”

Lawmakers who spoke at the dedication lauded Edison’s notable work on telegraphs, moving pictures, phonographs, electric cars, batteries, railway signaling systems, tattoo guns, pulleys, nickel-plating processes, cement, kilns, sound reorders, and more.

During his life, he registered 1,093 patents, founded 14 companies and became one of the most renowned accomplished inventors in the world, marveled U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio). She attributed his successes to his hard work and perseverance.

“He taught people that the most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time,” she said. “Thomas Alva Edison always thought big, delivered big, he always tried just one more time … and his genius moved America forward,” she said.

The statue replaces a marble rendering of William Allen, a Civil War-era governor, U.S. senator, and congressman. The Allen statue is headed to the Ross County Historical Society in Chillicothe.

Each state is allowed to display two statues of notable figures inside the Capitol. Ohio’s congressional delegation wanted to replace the statue of Mr. Allen, a popular Democrat of his day, who tolerated slavery, opposed the Civil War, and objected to President Abraham Lincoln’s policies.

Ohioans selected Edison by voting on a slate of nominees that also included former presidents, astronauts, athletes, justices, and military leaders.

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