At the end of President Trump’s controversial July 3rd Mount Rushmore speech, he informed the American public that he had signed an executive order that would lead to the creation of a “National Garden of American Heroes.” The location for this garden is currently being sought out by the Department of the Interior, with the goal to have the statue garden open to the public by the 4th of July in 2026, which will the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
The executive order contained a list of thirty-one figures from across American History that were explicitly named for inclusion in the garden, stretching from the American Revolution through the late 20th Century. All of these figures have influenced our nation for good and/or ill, and there are bound to be more additions to the list of those who either could or should be considered heroes and included in this ‘garden’.
The listing of names, along with their histories, is as follows:
JOHN ADAMS: Born in 1735, John Adams was an attorney before becoming known through the then-colonies due to his opposition to the Stamp Act and legal defense of the British soldiers involved with the Boston Massacre. During the Revolution, he was involved with the drafting of the Declaration of Independence before serving as a diplomat in Europe. As the nation’s second President, he courted controversy due to the French Revolution related XYZ Affair, the Alien and Seditions Act, and military build up. He lost to Jefferson in the 1800 Election, and retired afterwards. He passed away on the Fourth of July, 1826.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY: Born in 1820, Susan B. Anthony was born to a Quaker family and was involved with the anti-slavery movement by adulthood. Her friendship and work with Elizabeth Cady Stanton led to their involvement with temperance (the ban of alcohol), continued anti-slavery efforts, and the founding of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Her widely publicized effort to vote in 1872 led to the introduction of an amendment for women’s suffrage in 1876, later ratified after her death in 1920. She passed away in 1906.
CLARA BARTON: Born in 1821, Clara Barton was an educator and Patent clerk before the Civil War. Following the Baltimore Riots at the beginning of the conflict, she discovered that several of the men she helped nurse were former students. This led her to becoming involved with the war effort, nursing the injured across many battlefields. After the conflict, she eventually traveled to Europe and learned of the International Red Cross. She provided aid in hospital work during the Franco-Prussian War before her return home. Clara would finally found the American Red Cross in 1881 after several years of petitioning the government. She passed away in 1912.
DANIEL BOONE: Born in 1734, Daniel Boone is best known for his role as a frontiersmen and pioneer during the colonial period, primarily his involvement with the creation of trails to and settling of Kentucky. When the Revolutionary War began, he became involved with fighting between American settlers and Native tribes, especially a number of conflicts with the Shawnee. Financial troubles and moves around the Ohio Valley region led to his move into Spanish Louisiana. He eventually died in 1820, though several aspects of his life were mythicized and dramatized, including the novel The Last of the Mohicans.
JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN: Born in 1828, Joshua Chamberlain joined the Union Army in 1862 as part of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and first saw action at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He was promoted to regiment commander the following year due to losses at Chancellorsville. Under his leadership, his regiment held the Union Line at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, repelling fierce attacks on the second day of fighting before forcing back the Confederates with a downhill bayonet charge. He continued to fight for the Union until the surrender at Appomattox Court House. He would later become Governor of Maine and President of Bowdoin College, before passing away in 1914.
HENRY CLAY: Born in 1777, Henry Clay’s legal career in Kentucky launched him into politics. Despite his failures across three Presidential runs and involvement in the founding of the Whig Party, he is remembered for his role in defusing several crises during the antebellum period, including the 1820 Missouri Compromise, the Nullification Crisis in 1833, and the Compromise of 1850, which all concerned the issue of slavery. These three in particular led to him receiving the nickname of the “Great Compromiser.” He passed away in 1852.
DAVY CROCKETT: Born in 1786, Davy Crockett was involved with the Tennessee militia and bear hunting before beginning a troubled political career. His time in Washington was highlighted by a failed resolution to abolish the West Point Academy and his career damaging opposition to President Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act. Following his last political defeat in 1835, he moved to then Mexican-controlled Texas. There, he joined the Texan Revolution and made the fateful decision to head for the Alamo. All that is confirmed about his death is the location, at the Alamo, and the date of March 6, 1836.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass would learn how to read and write during his enslavement, even going as far as to teach other slaves how to read the New Testament. He escaped slavery in 1838 and shortly became a national leader in the abolitionist movement through works such as his 1845 bestselling book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and his 1852 oration we know as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” He continued to advocate for equality and suffrage throughout his entire life, all the way until his passing in 1895.
AMELIA EARHART: Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart is best known for her mysterious disappearance in 1937 while flying across the Pacific Ocean during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Before that, she was involved with a team flight across the Atlantic in 1928, a solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932, and being the first person to fly solo to Hawaii from the American mainland. She was declared to be dead on January 5, 1939.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: Born in 1706, Benjamin Franklin first rose to note due to his writings in Boston and Philadelphia, especially the Silence Dogood letters and Poor Richard’s Almanack. He was also involved with several scientific and academic pursuits, the early development of an “American” identity unique from Great Britain, and overseas diplomacy, especially in France throughout the Revolution. Later in life, he added his voice to anti-slavery sentiments and the development of the Constitution. He passed away in 1790.
BILLY GRAHAM: Born William Franklin Graham Jr. in 1918, Billy Graham was an evangelical preacher, ordained by the Southern Baptist Church, whose preaching influenced Americans throughout the 20th Century. In his position as a preacher, he took a strong stance against racial segregation, favoring integration, in 1953 and provided spiritual consul to all presidents from Truman to Obama. He was criticized during his lifetime for comments made about Jewish people, feminism, and homosexuality. He passed away in 2018.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Born in 1755, Alexander Hamilton arrived in America in 1772 for educational purposes. Shortly after the beginning of the American Revolution, Hamilton became involved with the New York militia and aided in early victories at Newark and Princeton. He then joined Washington’s staff and led a field command at Yorktown. While involved with the drafting of the Constitution, he was more directly involved with the Federalist Papers, which argued in favor of the ratification of the document. He would serve as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington, fail twice to become President, and eventually died in 1804 due to his infamous duel with then-Vice President Aaron Burr.
THOMAS JEFFERSON: Born in 1743, Thomas Jefferson was an attorney and politician before the Revolution, including efforts to reform slavery in Virginia that would influence his later life. His work in drafting the Declaration of Independence made him a potent figure in the Revolution, despite not fighting in the war. He would hold several public offices until becoming the third President in 1800. His presidency was defined by wars against North African slavers, the Louisiana Purchase, Indian assimilation policies, and the embargo of British goods. He died on the Fourth of July, 1826.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: Born Michael King Jr. in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. became involved with oration at a young age and graduated from Morehouse College by age 19. He continued his education in theology, which led to his move Montgomery, Alabama. Shortly afterwards, he became involved with the Civil Rights Movement in the wake of two busing-related arrests, including Rosa Parks’. Alongside fellow activists, he became a major leader in the movement and was involved with several notable events in the American South, including his famous arrest in 1962, the 1963 March on Washington, and the 1965 Selma March. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Born in 1809, Abraham Lincoln managed his own education before coming to Illinois to practice law. He had a brief political career before the emergence of the Republican Party, which he quickly rose to a leadership position. Following his 1858 debates with Stephen A. Douglas concerning slavery, he was victorious in the 1860 Presidential Election. His victory sparked the secession of the South and the beginning of the Civil War. He led the Union through the war, involved with how the war was waged and the end of slavery. He was assassinated on April 14, 1865, less than a week after the end of the bloody conflict.
DOUGLAS MacARTHUR: Born in 1880, Douglas MacArthur entered military service following his education and was involved with an occupation ordered by President Wilson and the First World War. He assigned to the Philippines in 1924, where he remained until America’s entry into the Second World War. Despite early failures, he was heavily involved with commanding American forces in the Pacific Theater and accepted the Japanese surrender following Truman’s decision to detonate two nuclear weapons. His military career ended during the Korean War with his removal following China’s entry into the conflict. He passed away in 1964.
DOLLEY MADISON: Born Dolley Payne in 1768, her second marriage to James Madison would raise her to prominence. During her life, she held social functions in Washington, unique due to invitations being granted to politicians of the major parties and worked to decrease political violence between opponents. Her political involvement led to her defining the role of the First Lady, though the name came later. She outlived her husband, and would eventually sell her husband’s papers during her widowhood. She passed away in 1849.
JAMES MADISON: Born in 1751, James Madison’s involvement in the Revolution, unlike many of his ‘Founding Father’ peers, was spent serving in the Second Continental Congress. After the war, he advocated for amending the Articles of Confederation, the first federal government document, and was one of the major figures at the Philadelphia Convention, where the Constitution was drafted. Like Hamilton, he penned several of the Federalist Papers. In Congress, he was heavily involved in drafting the Bill of Rights, and rose into position to run for President by 1808. His presidency is best known for the War of 1812 against Great Britain. He passed away in 1836.
CHRISTA McAULIFFE: Born Sharon Christa Corrigan in 1948, Christa McAuliffe went into the field of teaching, despite growing up and being inspired by the Space Race around her. When President Reagan introduced the Teacher in Space program in 1984, she became one of over 11,000 applicants. Despite the odds, she was the one selected to become the first civilian to be sent into space by NASA in 1985, especially due to her status as an educator. After a year of training, she was assigned to the fateful Space Shuttle Challenger and along with six others, perished when the shuttle broke apart on January 28, 1986.
AUDIE MURPHY: Born in 1925, Audie Murphy grew up in a struggling sharecropper family. Thanks to the efforts of his older sister, he enlisted in the Army with falsified documents following the Pearl Harbor attack. He fought in the European Theater, primarily seeing action in Sicily, Italy, and France. By the end of the war, he had received every valor-related military combat award from the Army, along with French and Belgian awards. Following the war, he spent over twenty years as an actor, including playing himself in a dramatized version of his memoir. He died in a plane crash in 1971 and was later interned at Arlington National Cemetery.
GEORGE S. PATTON, JR.: Born in 1885, George S. Patton always assumed he would have a military career. His first combat experiences involved incursions across the US-Mexican border and the First World War, where he was involved with armored vehicles. That experience would prove useful, for he developed armored tactics during the interwar period. With the entry into World War II, Patton fought in the European Theater, first in North Africa, then Italy, Northern France following the D-Day Invasion, and through the advance into Germany. Despite questionable actions and comments during the war, Patton was a well-admired figure back home. He was injured in early December, which led to his death on December 21, 1945.
RONALD REAGAN: Born in 1911, Ronald Reagan moved to California and began working as a screen actor in 1937. During his time in Hollywood, he sought to root out Communists, using his position with the Screen Actors Guild and working with the government to do so. By the 1960s, he shifted to the Republican Party and in 1967 was elected Governor of California. His most notorious action was the signing of the Mulford Act, accelerated to his desk following action by the Black Panthers. Despite a failed run in 1976, Reagan was elected president in 1980. His tenure as president was marked by the end of the Cold War, economic growth as the country moved into the decade, and a number of international-related scandals. In 1994, years out of office, he revealed that he had Alzheimer’s. He passed away in 2004.
JACKIE ROBINSON: Born in 1919, Jackie Robinson played sports throughout his youth, including at UCLA. During the Second World War, he applied for officer school, but ended up being acquitted of a court-marshal in 1944 due to a bus related incident. He received an honorable discharge, around which time he met a former Negro American League player. He joined the Kansas City Monarchs, where he played until being recruited by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played his way through the minors and into 1947, when he entered the major leagues. His career included several All Star awards and a World Series pennant in 1954. After retirement, he was involved with both baseball and politics, including the Civil Rights Movement, until his passing in 1972.
BETSY ROSS: Born Elizabeth Griscom in 1752, was one of several flag makers living in Philadelphia during the American Revolution. The claims of her involvement in producing the first American flag did not emerge during the period, but in the years before the First American Centennial in 1876. Despite the questionable and inconclusive history form the period, Betsy Ross is still associated with the early American flag with thirteen stripes and thirteen five-pointed stars in a circle. She passed away in 1836, some forty years before the claims about her would emerge.
ANTONIN SCALIA: Born in 1936, Antonin Scalia’s record shows one of high academic achievement as he progressed through his career. By the 1960s, he began a legal career, moving into the fields of teaching and general counsel for the Nixon and Ford administrations. President Reagan appointed him to judge positions twice, first in 1982 to the DC Court of Appeals, then in 1986 to the Supreme Court. Upon the Court, he took generally conservative opinions, best highlighted by the controversial pro-firearm ruling made in District of Columbia v Heller. He passed away in 2016.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE: Born in 1811, Harriet Beecher Stowe moved with several family members to Ohio in 1832. She was affected and influenced by meeting several blacks living in Cincinnati during a series of riots years before and the Lane Debates, which were won by a group of abolitionists. While she wrote several books and many more works during her lifetime, her 1852 work took the nation by storm and sold 300,000 copies within a year—Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The novel was so influential in both the North and South that it is commonly added to a list of events and moments which led to the Civil War. She continued writing following the war. She suffered from what many researchers now believe to be
HARRIET TUBMAN: Born into slavery in 1822, Harriet Tubman had her perspective on slavery and guidance forged through her religious beliefs brought on by visions she had due to a childhood trauma. She escaped in 1849, using the Underground Railroad on her path north. Throughout the 1850s, she worked to free and guide escaped slaves to freedom in British-controlled Canada. She also helped John Brown plan his Harper’s Ferry raid, but was absent due to illness. Tubman provided aid to the Union throughout the Civil War, especially following emancipation by being in the field with men to free slaves. In the following decades, she was involved with the suffrage movement and had a few other struggles. She passed away in 1913.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: Born a slave in 1856, Booker T. Washington’s family moved to West Virginia following emancipation. He spent several years working hard and increasing his education until the Hampton Institute president recommended him to lead what is now Tuskegee University in 1881. Over the next thirty plus years, he publicly advocated for the development and advancement of education and marketable trade skills in the black community while secretly backing legal challenges of segregationist policies. He came into conflict with northern black activists led by W. E. B. Du Bois due to a difference in how the black community should advance in the fight for equality. Their viewpoints were shaped by differences between the North and South. He passed away in 1915.
GEORGE WASHINGTON: Born in 1732, George Washington’s relationship with half-brother Lawrence affected his life. When his brother was transferred to the Virginia militia, he sought a commission and ended up in the Ohio Valley in 1754. He ended up fighting in the region during the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) and gained useful battle experience. He transitioned into a political career, which lasted until he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the new Continental Army at the beginning of the American Revolution. Thanks to powerful French allies, he forced a British surrender in 1781 at Yorktown. He retired his military commission shortly after, but was drawn back into public life with the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was then elected to the presidency twice, setting the example presidents since have, to different degrees, followed. He passed away in 1799, and his slaves were freed about one year later on the New Years of 1801.
ORVILLE & WILBUR WRIGHT: Born in 1867 (Wilbur) and 1871 (Orville), the Wright Brothers began their bicycle repair and sales shop in 1892, which would be key to their inspiration for powered flight. By 1899, they had designed a kite based upon observing birds in flight. Beginning in 1900, they started experimenting with glider designs at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Come 1903, they added an engine and propellers to their glider. On December 17, 1903, Orville made the first powered flight, followed shortly by Wilbur. Over the following years, they refined their design and dealt with skeptics and intellectual thieves alike. Wilbur passed away in 1912. Orville would help found the predecessors of NASA and the AIA before his passing in 1948.