It’s not Election Day, but Mainers are nonetheless being asked to help decide who represents the state in the U.S. Capitol.

Three of the state’s cultural institutions are conducting an online survey about whether Maine should replace one or both of the two statues – depicting Gov. William King and Vice President Hannibal Hamlin – that are now part of the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C. Each state has two statues in the collection, which lines the hallways of the Capitol building as well as the Capitol Rotunda and National Statuary Hall.

The survey was prompted by discussion in the Legislature last session about whether to swap out the statue for King, Maine’s first governor, with one honoring Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Civil War hero who would later serve as governor and president of Bowdoin College. The sponsor of a bill to begin the exchange process, Senate Republican Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls argued that Chamberlain’s feats at the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg and throughout the Civil War made him more of a national figure than King, who led the push for Maine to break away from Massachusetts.

Lawmakers balked at a bill to send Chamberlain to Washington and bring King back to Augusta, but instead passed a resolve directing the Maine Arts Commission, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and the Maine State Museum Commission to study the issue.

The online survey will be active through Dec. 15 and is available through a link on the Maine Arts Commission’s website, The cultural agencies will also examine the costs, process and general feasibility of replacing one or both of the statues.

In addition to asking whether the statues should be replaced, the survey polls respondents on 10 potential successors – five men and five women – with the option of suggesting alternatives.


The five male choices are: Chamberlain, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, former Gov. Percival P. Baxter, painter Winslow Homer and Leon Leonwood Bean. The five female choices are: Molly Molasses of the Penobscot Nation, naturalist and author Rachel Carson, former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Congress allows states to request to exchange statues through a process laid out in law. The process begins with a resolve from the state legislature identifying the new person to be honored and his or her qualifications as well as creating a commission to select a sculptor and to raise funds for the replacement. The Joint Committee on the Library of Congress must approve the swap, as well as the design of the new statue.

King’s statue has been part of the national collection in the Capitol since 1878. Before serving one year as Maine’s first governor, King was a successful entrepreneur who represented the Topsham-Bath area in the Massachusetts General Court and was a central figure in Maine’s gaining full statehood in 1820. Hamlin served as Abraham Lincoln’s vice president during Lincoln’s first term, a period dominated by the Civil War. Hamlin also represented Maine in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.


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