Edison Joins Statuary Hall

A bronze statue of Edison holding up an incandescent lightbulb

Alan Cottrill of Zanesville, Ohio, sculpted the bronze statue of Edison holding up an incandescent lightbulb. Edison's statue replaces that of Ohio Governor William Allen in Statuary Hall. Ohio's second statue in the Capitol is of President James A. Garfield. – Photo by Jessica Yurinko.

Representative Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) standing behind a podium

Representative Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) said, "Edison believed what you are will show in what you do." The inventor has more than 1,000 patents to his name, including the incandescent lightbulb, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph. – Photo by Kristie Boyd.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) standing behind a podium

House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) was surprised that a statue of Edison was not already present in the Capitol. "When Edison died, Henry Ford urged the people at his deathbed to capture his dying breath in a test tube," Ryan said. "Unfortunately we couldn't capture something so fleeting. But this statue does capture a hint of his character, a piece of his legacy, which will serve to inspire the thousands of Americans who walk these halls for many years to come." – Photo by Kristie Boyd.

Cliff Rosenberger, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell standing with the statue of Edison

(From left to right) Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Cliff Rosenberger, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) unveil the statue of Edison in the Capitol's Statuary Hall on September 21, 2016. – Photo by Kristie Boyd.

Ohio Places Statue of Edison at the Capitol

When House Speaker Paul Ryan heard that a statue of Thomas Alva Edison would be unveiled at the U.S. Capitol, his first thought was, "We don't have one already?" Edison joined the ranks of other American luminaries in Statuary Hall on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The bronze statue of Edison was commissioned by the state of Ohio, where Edison was born.

Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio said that, "Edison believed what you are will show in what you do." Throughout his lifetime, the inventor was granted more than 1,000 patents for inventions such as the incandescent lightbulb, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised Edison's inventions and referenced the technological advances that have been made in her home state's Silicon Valley, which "never would have happened without the inventions of Thomas Alva Edison."

Each state may display two statues in the Capitol. Ohio Senator Robert Portman said, "The people of Ohio made this decision," referring to the selection process by which the statue of Edison was chosen. Edison was chosen over nine other notable figures in Ohio history including Jesse Owens, the Wright brothers, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Ulysses S. Grant. Edison's statue replaces that of former Ohio Governor William Allen.

When he was 22 years old, Edison's first patent was granted for an electric vote recorder. He pitched the machine to Congress around 1869, but to no avail. In fact, he was told by a committee chairman at the time, "If there is any invention on earth that we don't want down here, [the electric vote recorder] is it."

In 1973, More than 100 years after Edison pitched his electric vote recorder, the U.S. House of Representatives held its first electronic vote on the House Floor.