LOUISIANA, Mo. — John Brooks Henderson was very familiar with monuments.
Not only was the senator surrounded by them in Washington, but his wife once proposed that a street near the White House be lined with the busts of every president and vice president.
The dream was never realized, but a bust of the man who drafted and introduced the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery stands atop the Mississippi River bluff in Louisiana.
John Stoeckley donated the clay model he used to design and sculpt the statue to the Louisiana Area Historical Museum, which will honor the artist at a public reception.
The free event for all ages is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at the museum, 304 Georgia. The first 100 people to attend will receive a free, specially-designed copy of the 13th Amendment. Refreshments will be served and donations will be accepted with proceeds benefiting museum exhibits and ongoing projects.
“Donating the original clay bust to our museum assures me that it will be around for a long time for folks to enjoy the beginning of the statue,” Stoeckley said. “John Henderson deserved to be honored and recognized by our community, and this bust does that. He certainly was a man of considerable accomplishments for this country.”
“John Brooks Henderson’s contributions to America are gigantic, and John Stoeckley’s amazing depiction of this Pike County hero will remind generations about the importance of the Constitution and freedom,” said Museum Co-President Judy Schmidt. “We greatly appreciate this donation and know it will attract the attention of visitors.”
The clay model is enclosed in glass and sits near the front entrance to the museum. Visitors are welcome to have their photos taken with it and to explore other Henderson connections.
Henderson was a Virginia native whose family moved to Missouri when he was six years old. By age 10, he was an orphan. Nonetheless, Henderson became a teacher, attorney and state lawmaker. He served as a Union brigadier general in the early part of the Civil War.
In 1862, Henderson was appointed to the Missouri U.S. Senate and within six weeks began meeting regularly with President Abraham Lincoln.
Though a one-time slave-owner himself, Henderson in 1864 drafted and introduced the 13th Amendment – the first time the nation’s founding document had been altered in 60 years.
Henderson also was a strong campaigner of women’s voting rights, supported better relations with Native Americans, fought against federal government corruption and was one of only seven Republicans who voted to acquit Democrat President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges.
His wife, Mary Foote Henderson, was an author, real estate developer and social advocate who proposed placing busts of all presidents and vice presidents along 16th Street north of the White House and renaming it “Avenue of the Presidents”
While she was temporarily successful in having the street’s name changed, the Washington Commission of Fine Arts denied Mrs. Henderson’s plan for the busts.
The Hendersons donated land for the spot on which the senator’s bust stands to the city in May 1903, with the understanding that if it was ever used for anything but a park the family could take back ownership.
Henderson died in 1913 at age 86 and his wife passed at 88 in 1931.