The Oregon House voted Monday to remove a statue of pioneer missionary Jason Lee from a prominent place in the U.S. Capitol. In its place they propose to put a statue of former Oregon Republican governor and U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield.
Each state gets two spots in the the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall. Supporters of the change say it's time to honor a more modern and prominent figure in Oregon's history.
Republican state representative Vic Gilliam was a Congressional aide to Hatfield in the 1970s. He called his former boss, who died two years ago, a "modern pioneer" because he frequently went against the wishes of his own political party. "At every level, no matter where he met Oregonians, he always emphasized people over politics."
A vocal minority in the Oregon House said the status swap-out proposal ignores the contributions made by Jason Lee. The 19th century missionary helped to establish the Oregon Territory.
The Oregon Senate gets the next shot at deciding which figure in bronze should represent the state.
Oregon's second statue honors its first governor, John McLoughlin, a fur trader who played a prominent role in settling the Oregon Territory. Washington's statues honor Catholic missionary Mother Joseph and pioneer physician Marcus Whitman. Idaho's choices are early 20th Century U.S. Senator William Edgar Borah and the state's first governor, George Laird Shoup.
Editor's Note: This story originally referred to John McLoughlin as the first governor of Oregon. That is incorrect. McLoughlin served as administrator over vast sections of Oregon Territory prior to statehood, but was never governor.
On the Web:
National Statutory Hall Collection - Architect of the Capitol
HB 2387: Statues in National Statuary Hall - Oregon Legislature