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Before the Civil War, Indianapolis had laid out a space for the future creation of a public university. When the war arrived, the green was used instead for drilling troops. After the war, instead of continuing to pursue the elusive idea of a university, citizens organized funds to create a park. Over time, several statues were raised on the southern side of the park. A statue of Schuyler Colfax was raised there in 1887, followed by a statue of President Benjamin Harrison in 1908 and President Abraham Lincoln in 1934.

This image is the property of Diego Delso, under the following license:

This image is the property of Diego Delso, under the following license:

While Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana for a time during his boyhood years and early adulthood his University Park statue primarily honors his contribution as President of the United States, especially his leadership in the nation's Civil War effort. Another statue of Lincoln had just been completed in 1932, but Henry Hering's 1934 sculpture in Indianapolis provides a unique posture and detail. The seated Lincoln is seated, wearing a shawl, with a pince-nez on a chain, while gloves and a stovepipe hat are set behind the chair.

Schuyler Colfax was an Indiana native who also played a prominent role in Civil War politics, surviving unlike Lincoln to continue his influence during the Reconstruction era. The Republican Speaker of the House from 1863 to 1869 took part in the major legislation and amendments of the period, including the critical 13th and 14th Amendments abolishing slavery and extending equal protection and due process. Colfax also served as Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, achieving great prominence and earning his memorial sculpture, completed by Lorado Taft in 1887.

Finally, Benjamin Harrison may not have been a leading politician during the US Civil War, but the war launched his political career, reaching the nation's highest eminence as president from 1889-1893. While Harrison was born in Ohio, he practiced law in Indiana as a young man, before serving in the 70th Indiana Infantry. By war's end, Harrison had risen from colonel to brevet brigadier general, and postwar legal success aided his rise among the state's Republican Party. Harrison won a Senate seat in 1881, serving well enough to win his party's nomination in 1888 for the presidency. After a remarkably active four years in the White House, Harrison retired to Indianapolis. His courageously striding statue was completed in 1908 by John H. Mahoney.

Home Page, Ben Harrison Camp No. 356, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. February 20th 2020. Accessed September 18th 2020.

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Rose, Ernestine Bradford Rose. The Circle: The Center of Indianapolis. Indianapolis: Crippin Printing Corporation, 1971.

Grieff, Glory-June. Remembrance, Faith, and Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2005.

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