Statue of James Harlan comes home to Iowa Wesleyan College

August 07, 2014

The historic statue of James Harlan, former U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Interior, advisor to Abraham Lincoln and president of then-Iowa Wesleyan University, will be unveiled on the Iowa Wesleyan campus in Mount Pleasant, Iowa on Thursday, August 28 at 2 p.m.

The Iowa legislature voted to place the statue on permanent loan on the picturesque campus of Iowa Wesleyan College, moving the statue from the U.S. Capitol building where it had been on display in the Hall of Columns since 1910.

Harlan became president of Iowa Wesleyan in 1853 before being elected to the Senate in 1855. He was considered a close friend and advisor to Abraham Lincoln. Harlan’s only daughter, Mary, married Robert Todd Lincoln, the 16th president’s son, and the couple’s Mount Pleasant home sits on the north end of campus and is known as the Harlan-Lincoln House. Harlan died in Mount Pleasant in 1899 and is buried in Forest Home Cemetery.

“The installation of Senator James Harlan’s statue will be an historic event and a proud moment for Iowa Wesleyan College,” President Steven Titus said. “We are very pleased to have the statue in Mount Pleasant.  It represents Harlan’s achievements as a two-time president of Iowa Wesleyan and as a public servant. Harlan was determined to advance the mission of the college. The impact that he had on Iowa Wesleyan is remarkable. During his presidency, Harlan successfully raised funds to improve the campus by constructing a second building, now Old Main, advanced the institution to a baccalaureate university and developed its relationship with the Methodist church.  On August 28th, we celebrate a former U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Interior, and Advisor to Abraham Lincoln, who devoted his life to higher education and public service.”

The unveiling ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on the central campus of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant and is open to the public. Look for more information at

Other events held in conjunction with the Iowa Wesleyan ceremony on Thursday, August 28 are being held throughout Mount Pleasant and include: Opening Ceremonies at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion at 11:30 a.m. at 405 East Threshers Road and the 1:15 p.m. Ribbon Cutting Celebration of the 1861 Union Block Building located at 111 West Monroe Street. The Harlan-Lincoln House on the Iowa Wesleyan College campus will also be open for tours from 3-5 p.m.