President William McKinley Memorial
The west side of Capitol Square is marked by the McKinley Memorial, a monumental grouping of statues that honors the nation's 25th President, an Ohio native who was assassinated in office in 1901.
William McKinley was also a US Senator from Stark County and governor of Ohio in 1891 until he was elected President in 1896.
In 1906 when the McKinley Memorial was unveiled, a crowd of over 50,000 people attended the event, the largest crowd to attend any Statehouse event to that time. They were drawn in large measure by the memory of the recently departed President, and also by the guest of honor at the unveiling, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wife of an Ohio Congressman and the daughter of McKinley's Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt. Dubbed "Princess Alice" in the media of the day, Mrs. Longworth was known for her up to the minute fashions, daring behavior and tart tongue.
The location of the McKinley statue is particularly important. The statue gazes west across High Street to the site of the former Neil House Hotel, where William McKinley and his wife Ida lived when McKinley was in Columbus. Ida McKinley's health declined greatly during her time as First Lady of Ohio. She was frail, and often bed ridden. Her devoted husband, hesitant to leave her side, every morning when he was required at the Statehouse, would make a point of waving to his wife as she gazed out the second story window of their hotel window.
On each side of the Memorial are two other groups of statues depicting an adult figure and a child. The female figure with a palm branch is Peace. The male figure is Prosperity. The boy and girl figures represent the future of the state that rests in the hands of her children.
The inscription reads:
The United States
Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not conflict, and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peach, not those of war.
Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.
The quote is from President McKinley's speech that he gave at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, just before he was assassinated.
Among the most prominent features of the Ohio Statehouse and Capitol Square is the symbolism found in the historic statues, monuments and markers expressing the ways different generations of Ohioans have understood their history and own experiences, and how they wished to be remembered.