Immediately south of the State Capitol, several monuments on the Capitol grounds pay tribute to some of the most important figures, events, and ideals related to Iowa history. Although the Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Monument stands above the rest, one of the most stunning and eye-catching structures is the Allison Monument. This monument commemorates the work of famed U.S. Senator William Boyd Allison, who served in Congress for over 43 years. During Allison’s time as a pivotal figure for the Iowa Republican Party, Allison ran twice for president and was an intimate associate of every president from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt. Featuring the designs and work of Evelyn Beatrice Longman, the first ever woman sculptor elected to the National Academy of Design in 1919, the Allison Monument features a central plaque picturing Allison as well as statues depicting “Knowledge” on one side and “Peace” on the other. Topping this monument and sitting on a throne is the stunning symbol of “The Republic.”
Backstory and Context
Building of the Monument
Although born in Perry Ohio, William Boyd Allison would eventually become one of the early leaders of the Iowa Republican Party, and from 1873 to 1908, Allison was elected to the U.S. Senate six times.
Allison’s political career was marked by success and pragmatism, and he was considered among many to be sage-like and one of the most responsible statesman in the government. His role as a centrist also made him accessible to both Democrats and Republicans.1
During the 1908 Senate race, Allison died in his home in Dubuque, and at the suggestion of General Grenville M. Dodge, the state began collecting funds to erect a fitting memorial at the Iowa State capital. By 1912, Treasurer of State Hon W. W. Morrow advised the commission tasked with the memorial that over $40,000 had been raised.
With the money ready, the commission had then to find an artist who could accurately and honorably depict the life of a man who had an intimate association with every president from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt.2
Evelyn Beatrice Longman
The committee tasked with creating the Allison Monument found the ideal sculptor to depict the man’s eventful life through Evelyn Beatrice Longman. Since arriving in New York in 1901, Longman had already established herself as one of the foremost sculptors in the United States.
Her debut piece, “Victory,” was displayed at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and her work was considered to be innovative, inventive, and deserving of a place of honor atop the Fair’s centerpiece building, Festival Hall.
Longman had several other famous works between 1904 and 1915, and by 1916, she was tasked with creating the Allison Monument.3