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The Catholics in Statuary Hall

Sidkid

Kathy Schiffer - published on 07/03/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Edward Douglass White was Chief Justice of the United States from 1910 to 1921 and served as an associate justice for the six preceding years. During his career on the court, White wrote several hundred opinions. In 1911, he penned a “rule of reason” which distinguished between legal and illegal business combinations, in the cases of Standard Oil and American Tobacco Company. In 1916, White wrote the decision upholding the constitutionality of the eight-hour workday for railroad workers. The University of Notre Dame awarded him the Laetare Medal in recognition of his outstanding service to the Roman Catholic Church and to society. White’s statue represents the state of Louisiana.

Maryland is well-represented by a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, who lived from 1737 to 1834. He came from a prominent family: his grandfather was attorney general Lord Baltimore of Maryland, and a cousin was Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States. Educated in Europe, Carroll became prominent in politics, serving as a Congressman and as a U.S. Senator. He laid the cornerstone for the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad on June 4, 1828, and died later that year—the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence.  

Patrick A. McCarran, the son of Irish immigrants, served as a U.S. Senator from Nevada. In the early years of the 20th century, while McCarran was supporting his family by farming and raising sheep, he was elected to the Nevada Legislature. He practiced law, was elected associate justice and then chief justice of the Supreme Court of Nevada, and also served on the Nevada Board of Pardons and the State Board of Parole Commissioners. During his tenure as a U.S. Senator, he was Chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia and the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as being co-chairman of the Joint Commission on Foreign Economic Cooperation. His statue in Statuary Hall represents the state of Nevada.

Dennis Chavez was chosen by the state of New Mexico to be memorialized in Statuary Hall. Chavez served as U.S. Representative from 1930-36, and as U.S. Senator from 1936 to 1960. He died in 1962. In 1976, his memory was honored in Nevada when the federal building in Albuquerque was renamed the Senator Dennis Chavez Federal Center.

John Burke began his legal career in Iowa and Minnesota before moving to the Dakota Territory. After North Dakota was admitted to the union, Burke served in the state House of Representatives and Senate, then served three terms as the tenth governor of North Dakota. Burke supported the candidacy of Woodrow Wilson at the 1912 Democratic National Convention; and William Jennings Bryan had supported Burke for vice president, but he declined to accept that position. After Wilson’s election to the presidency, he named Burke to the position of U.S. Treasurer. Burke tried unsuccessfully to win election to the U.S. Senate in 1916.  He represents the state of North Dakota.  

Dr. John McLoughlin has been called the “Father of Oregon.” He was baptized Catholic, but raised Anglican, returning to the Catholic faith as an adult. He worked first as a physician, then as agent for the Hudson Bay Company. His general store was the last stop on the Oregon Trail. He reverted to the Catholic faith in 1842 and only four years later, was named a Knight of St. Gregory for his personal service to the Holy See and the Catholic Church. Dr. McLoughlin welcomed settlers—feeding and clothing them, caring for their sick, and giving them needed implements for farming. He was forced to resign from his position with the Hudson Bay Company over his policy of extending credit to pioneers arriving to establish new farms. A bronze statue of McLoughlin was donated to Statuary Hall by the state of Oregon in 1953.

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