Alabama State Capitol Monuments

Part 3 of 3: The Sculptors and their Sculptures on the Capitol Grounds

David Smitherman
8 min readMar 10, 2024

Be sure to take a walk around the capitol to view the monuments on the capitol grounds. The south side has a few monuments dedicated to those in public service, defending our country, keeping our streets safe, and protecting our homes. Across the front on the west side are several historical figures since the Revolutionary War. My interests is in the history of those represented, and in the sculptors that created them.

Marquis de La Fayette, 1757 to 1834, was a Revolutionary War general and hero who fought to secure freedom for all in America and France. After the War he toured the newly formed United States and was greeted at many state capitol events, this one occurring in Montgomery in 1825.

The relief sculpture was provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution, but the sculptor is unidentified.

General Marquis de La Fayette, and Duty Called.

Duty Called, is a law enforcement officers memorial, sculpted by Branko Medenica, in memory of officers that have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Branko Medenica, was born in Germany in 1950, moved with his family to the United States, and grew up in Huntsville Alabama. He studied at Birmingham Southern College, and the University of Mississippi, and in 1983 opened his own studio, Sculpture Sight, in Birmingham Alabama.

John Allan Wyeth, 1845 to 1922, was a confederate soldier, surgeon, and author. He was a founder of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital, and of graduate medical and surgical teaching in America. The sculpture is by Gutzon Borglum.

John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, 1867 to 1941, was born in Saint Charles, Idaho, known as the Idaho Territory at that time. He studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, and the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in France, and the California School of Design. Borglum became a controversial figure in the early 1900s because of his work on the Civil War sculptural relief on Stone Mountain in Georgia, and his association with the Ku Klux Klan.

John Allan Wyeth, and James Marion Sims.

James Marion Sims, 1813 to 1883, was known at one time as the father of modern gynecology. He lived and practiced in Montgomery from 1840 to 1853, and opened the first hospital for treating the enslaved. Unfortunately, that practice included what many have come to believe as inhumane experimental surgeries on enslaved black women. Another statue of Sims was removed in New York City due to vandalism and recent criticism of his practices. It is currently in storage while plans are prepared to place the stature near his grave in Green-Wood Cemetery in New York City.

The sculpture of Sims in New York City is by Ferdinand Freiherr von Miller, 1842 to 1929, but the one shown here in Montgomery is striking a different pose and is likely by another sculptor that is not identified.

Albert Love Patterson, 1894 to 1954, was a soldier, educator, attorney, and state senator. He was assassinated in 1954 while running for attorney general at a time when organized crime was rampant in his home community of Phenix City Alabama. As a result, the governor sent in the National Guard, declared marshal law, and removed all law enforcement, and replaced them with new hires and appointments. Several were convicted.

The Patterson sculpture was provided by the Mount Eagle Lodge 185, in 1961, by an unidentified sculptor.

Albert Love Patterson, and the Moon Tree.

In addition to the monuments there is a loblolly pine growing on the grounds known as the Moon Tree, because its seed journeyed to the Moon with the Apollo 14 crew in 1971. That journey proved that exposure to the space environment had no detrimental effects on seeds. I learned through my career with NASA that longterm exposure to space radiation and microgravity can have detrimental effects for humans, but there are solutions to getting around most of the problems. The seeds were planted in 1975, so it is now approaching 50 years old.

Civil War Monuments

There are several memorials from the Civil War era on the capitol grounds, and at many courthouses across Alabama. These monuments continue to cause controversies with some being desecrated, covered, removed, or relocated. In Huntsville our monument was removed from the courthouse grounds and relocated at a local cemetery where many confederate soldiers are buried. At the capitol there are the following:

Jefferson Davis, 1808 to 1889, was a US Representative, US Senator, Secretary of War, and President of the Provisional Government for the Confederate States of America, during the Civil War. The sculpture is by Frederick Hibbard.

Frederick Cleveland Hibbard, 1881 to 1950, was born in Canton Missouri, and studied at the University of Missouri, and with Lorado Taft at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He is known for producing many Civil War memorials for both the Union and Confederate causes.

Jefferson Davis, and his inauguration in from of the Alabama State Capitol.

Jefferson Davis was inaugurated in 1861 as the president of the new Confederate States of America. This vintage photograph by A C Whitmore is from that inauguration, taking place on the front portico of the Alabama State Capitol.

On the north side of the capitol stands a large Confederate Memorial Monument built in 1898, sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was designed by Gorda C Doud with sculptor Alexander Doyle from New York City.

Confederate Memorial Monument, crowned with an allegorical figure representing Patriotism.

Alexander Doyle, 1857 to 1922, was born in Steubenville Ohio, and grew up in Louisville Kentucky, and Saint Louis Missouri. He studied sculpture in Bergamo, Rome, and Florence Italy, with Giovanni Duprè, Carlo Nicoli, and Fernando Pelliccia. There is little information on the designer, Gorda C Doud, but the layout includes four inscriptions with statues representing the four branches of service, Calvary, Infantry, Artillery, and Seamen, and is crowned with an allegorical figure representing Patriotism.

Four branches of service representing Calvary, Infantry, Artillery, and Seamen.

This monument, like many at courthouses and town squares across the state honor the one hundred twenty two thousand that served, and the twenty seven thousand that died in Alabama, during the Civil War. Unfortunately, this monument, and many others across the state, contain racist themes that attempt to elevate the white race above others, and justify their cause for independence from the Union, so they could maintain enslavement of the black race.

The inscriptions on the monument read as follows:

“THE KNIGHTLIEST OF THE KNIGHTLY RACE Who SINCE THE DAYS OF OLD, HAVE KEPT THE LAMP OF CHIVALRY ALIGHT IN HEARTS OF GOLD.”

“FAME’S TEMPLE BOASTS NO HIGHER NAME, NO KING IS GRANDER ON HIS THRONE; NO GLORY SHINES WITH BRIGHTER GLEAM, THE NAME OF “PATRIOT” STANDS ALONE.”

”WHEN THIS HISTORIC SHAFT SHALL CRUMBLING LIE IN AGES HENCE, IN WOMAN’S HEART WILL BE, A FOLDED FLAG, A THRILLING PAGE UNROLLED, A DEATHLESS SONG OF SOUTHERN CHIVALRY.”

“THE SEAMEN OF CONFEDERATE FAME, STARTLED THE WONDERING WORLD; FOR BRAVER FIGHT WAS NEVER FOUGHT, AND FAIRER FLAG WAS NEVER FURLED.”

And then there is a plaque on the Confederate flag as follows:

SECOND NATIONAL CONFEDERATE FLAG (“STAINLESS BANNER”)

A plaque on the Confederate Flag, and the original painting by Conrad Chapman.

“Credit: From the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA. Painting by Conrad W. Chapman”

“The intensity of the war caused the desire for a new national flag that was in no way similar to the US flag. The “Stainless Banner” was adopted by the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863. The cross of St. Andrew, depicted on the flag, had been consecrated on the battlefield when variations of its design had been carried as a “battle flag” by many Southern units. The white field stood for the purity of the cause of independence.”

Note that the original flag had the cross in the upper left corner on a white field, where as the current Confederate flag in popular culture does not include the white field. The thirteen stars represented the states claimed by the Confederacy, which included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Kentucky and Missouri were border states that contributed to both the Union and Confederacy, so as a result they are counted among the 13 stars seen in the Confederate Flag. In 1863, part of Virginia broke away from the rest of the state and was accepted back into the Union as the new state of West Virginia.

Other points of interest include the First White House of the Confederacy, located on the south side, across from the capitol grounds, where Jefferson Davis and his family lived until the Confederate capitol was moved to Richmond Virginia. It was completed in 1835, in an Italianate architectural style by William Sayre.

First White House of the Confederacy.

And finally, there is one more sculptural grouping on the capitol grounds known as the Alabama Bicentennial Park, that you can see in a separate story, and two more stories that visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum. You can read about these at the links provided.

Travel Notes

Montgomery is centrally located in the state and easily accessible by interstate. For those with electric vehicles you will be glad to know that Montgomery finally got a Tesla supercharger along with other standard charging systems, and several chargers at hotels with overnight charging.

Notes and References

Story and photographs by David Smitherman, with data collected from onsite inscriptions and brochures, Wikipedia, and Google Maps. Site visits were made in February and May 2021, and June 2022.

Additional sources included:

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David Smitherman

Retired architect and space architect from NASA. Married with a growing family. Currently into travel, historical architecture, photography and genealogy.