I’ve posted before about the people’s vote to decide which Ohioan should replace the statue of William Allen, a pro-slavery Ohio governor of the 1870s, in Statuary Hall at the Capitol. The votes have been counted and Thomas Edison has been selected, with the Wright Brothers a relatively close second. The people’s choice will now be considered as part of the selection process by the National Statuary Collection Study Committee, which will make the final recommendation to the Ohio General Assembly.
As I mentioned when the ten candidates in the people’s vote were announced, I think Edison would be a very good choice. Inventors and businessmen are greatly underrepresented in Statuary Hall, and Edison was both. Indeed, his inventions of the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, and motion pictures created entire industries that have made huge contributions to growth of the American economy, employed hundreds of thousands of people, and allowed for new forms of artistic expression. Edison also established the first commercial laboratory to facilitate experimentation and then the rapid and inexpensive realization of new inventions. Edison’s concept of commercializing the process of research and development helped to foster a culture of innovation that has allowed the American economy to continue to lead the world in devising new technology. Finally, Edison’s biography is a classic American success story and tribute to the value of hard work, risk-taking . . . and marketing and promotion.
Edison is a fine choice for Statuary Hall. Let’s hope the Committee and the General Assembly agree.