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Hanna Statue, Cleveland, Ohio
The work of one of the world’s most respected sculptors, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, graces Cleveland’s University Circle area, in the form of the heroic seated figure of Marcus Alonzo Hanna.
Born in 1848 in Dublin, Ireland, Saint-Gaudens spent his childhood in New York City, but gained much of his later artistic inspiration and education traveling throughout Europe. He received his first major sculptural commission, a monument commemorating Civil War Admiral David Farragut that still stands in Madison Square Park in New York City, before turning 30. Over the following three decades, the artist was to complete many more noted monuments to Civil War heroes and statesmen. One of his most admired works is his ‘Standing Lincoln’ of 1887, situated in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
In addition to sculpting and teaching, Saint-Gaudens took great interest in numismatics — the design of coins. His double eagle gold piece, commissioned by the U. S. government in 1905, is considered by many to be the finest American coin ever minted.
Having been born in New Lisbon, Ohio, Marcus Alonzo Hanna (1837-1904) first arrived in Cleveland as a 7-year-old in the company of his family. After attending Central High (where he met and befriended John D. Rockefeller), he attended Western Reserve College for a time, before embarking in business by joining his father’s firm. After serving as quartermaster in the Union Army during the Civil War, Hanna used his love of dealmaking both to succeed at business and to become politically connected.
Hanna’s riches were built upon brokering and shipping the growing industrial traffic funneling through Cleveland and the Great Lakes. His firm, M.A. Hanna and Company, long survived him, and the Hanna name marks both one of Cleveland’s downtown theaters, and landmark building on Playhouse Square.
He used his political skills within the Republican ranks to bolster the career of William McKinley, becoming his campaign manager for the 1896 Presidential contest. Hanna went on to become one of Ohio’s Senators, from 1897 to 1904. He seemed on an arc to seek the Presidency himself in 1904, but died suddenly early that year of typhoid fever.
Upon his death, a circle of friends and admirers advocated a monument to the man. He had been an early organizer and first president of the National Civic Federation, which sought solutions to social ills and friction between industry and labor. His statue, depicting Hanna regally seated atop a rose granite plinth, was unveiled in 1908 and sits within a parklike island among the sinuous traffic arteries of University Circle, close by Wade Lagoon and The Cleveland Art Museum.