The People's Tribune

Wording Selected For John B. Henderson Bust

It was announced recently that local artist John Stoeckley was working on the bronze bust of John Brooks Henderson that will be installed at Henderson Park in Louisiana in time for the Bicentennial celebration this summer.

The bust was unveiled at the Mayor’s Ball on Saturday, Feb. 3 along with a rendering of the pillar on which the bust will sit. On the stone pillar will be a plaque containing the following information:

John Brooks Henderson

Nov. 16, 1826 – April 12, 1913

John Brooks Henderson was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Lincoln County Missouri when he was six years old. By age 10, he was an orphan.

Henderson overcame what could have been a life of obscurity to be a Pike County teacher, lawyer and state legislator. He lived and worked in Louisiana, and during the early part of the Civil War served as a brigadier general in Missouri’s Union militia.

In 1862, Henderson was appointed a U.S. Senator and within six weeks of arriving in Washington, he began regular meetings with President Abraham Lincoln.

Though a one-time slave owner himself, Henderson in 1864 drafted and introduced the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing human bondage – the first time the nation’s founding document had been altered in 60 years.

Henderson also was a strong campaigner for women’s voting rights, supported better relations with Native Americans, fought against federal government corruption and played a role in the temperance movement.

While Henderson was a strict constitutionalist, he embraced changes that would lead to a more equitable nation. The maverick served at various times as a Republican and a Democrat, but upset people of all parties.

Henderson realized what made America unique, and understood perhaps the most meaningful principle of its democracy – those in power rule only at the behest of the greater voting masses. His words still echo across the ages.

“If you commit errors, or outrage public sentiment, I want no other revolution than the right of the ballot box. With the Constitution unimpaired, we may yet appeal to the popular heart for the approval of right and the redress of wrong.”

Sculpture designed by Louisiana artist John Stoeckley, with wording by Pike County historian Brent Engel. Dedicated by the Louisiana Bicentennial Committee Saturday, June 30, 2018.

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