The People's Tribune

Henderson Bust Dedication Draws Large Fourth Of July Crowd On Final Day Of Louisiana Bicentennial Celebration

May the State long remember him and erect a memorial to him!”

-F.A. Sampson, The Missouri Historical Review, July 1913 (written three months after John B. Henderson’s death).

A dedication of the bust memorializing John Brooks Henderson kicked off the final day of the Louisiana Bicentennial celebration on Wednesday, July 4.

A large crowd gathered for the occasion which featured remarks from local historian Brent Engel, artist John Stoeckley, Louisiana Mayor Marvin Brown and State Rep. Jim Hansen. There was also a dramatic and moving performance of slave life in Missouri by Lindenwood University adjunct professor Angela da Silva.

“Welcome to what is truly a historic occasion, honoring a brilliant man who 105 years after his death is getting a bit of the recognition he certainly deserves,” Engel remarked as he opened the ceremony.

He noted that Henderson was a teacher, attorney and senator who helped draft the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery among his long list of accomplishments.

“He championed women’s voting rights at a time when many thought that females should just stay home. He argued for working with Native Americans when few wanted to do so. He prosecuted federal tax cheats, even when it meant coming close to a White House occupied by a President from his own party. And he voted against convicting a President from the opposite party of impeachment charges, telling those who sought to bribe him that principle outweighed politics no matter the personal cost,” Engel said. “Of course, Henderson wasn’t perfect. But he wasn’t wish-washy either, saying one thing and doing another.”

Engel added that people should remember they have the power to address the wrong and promote the right.

“And may John Brooks Henderson’s name be associated forever with freedom.”

The process of developing the bust of Henderson was a long one. Local artist John Stoeckley discussed the process as he addressed the crowd. He noted that he worked from a couple of photos and that a couple of local folks, the Rev. Art Moore and Gregg Blaylock, posed in period clothing to develop details for the bust.

“I’m very, very proud to present it to our community,” Stoeckley remarked through tears.

State Rep. Jim Hansen offered remarks at the dedication along with Louisiana Mayor Marvin Brown.

It was noted that Henderson Riverview Park already has a memorial that was erected in 1998 by the Louisiana Rotary Club. That project was spearheaded by Betty Allen.

Lindenwood University adjunct professor Angela da Silva offered the dramatic performance, “Lila, a Missouri Slave” for the audience and took questions afterward.

The Henderson bust sits atop a rock column that features three plaques.

The plaque on the front of the column memorializes Henderson’s life, 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 was the first president of the Bank of Louisiana. During the early part of the Civil War, he 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, was one of only seven Republicans who voted to acquit Democrat President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges, and played a role in the temperance movement.

Land for the park you are in was donated by Henderson and his wife, Mary Foote Henderson, to the City of Louisiana in May 1903. They are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, along with the son, John Brooks Henderson Jr.

While Henderson was a strict constitutionalist, he embraced changes that would lead to a more equitable nation. The maverick served at 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 thatn 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.”

There are two plaques on the back of the column. The top plaque notes the sculpture was conceived and created by Louisiana artist John Stoeckley and that Pike County historian Brent Engel provided the wording.

The other plaque offers the 13th Amendment.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Following the dedication there was a patriotic parade down Georgia Street and a ceremony with a flag disposal at the riverfront. Fireworks closed out the five-day event.

Comments are closed

Text Description

Text Description

Text Description

Log in | 2017 The People's Tribune