The present statue of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), one of South Carolina's most illustrious citizens, overlooks one of Charleston's busiest streets. For over one hundred years the Carolina statesman has faced the street that bears his name on Marion Square, formerly Citadel Square, between Meeting and King Streets.
Charleston's Ladies' Calhoun Monument Association is credited with raising $27,000 to erect the first statue of Calhoun executed by A.E. Harnish, a 19th Century Philadelphia artist. Later, a counterpart Charleston gentleman's association raised an additional $16,000 for a bronze statue mounted on a Carolina granite pedestal, surrounded by four allegorical figures-Truth, Justice, the Constitution and History-although only one the allegorical figures was actually added.
The cornerstone of the monument, laid in Citadel Square on June 28, 1858, contained several items in the hole beneath the cornerstone--a cannon ball recovered from the harbor and used during the Battle of Fort Moultrie), a case containing a banner carried by seamen in Calhoun's funeral procession, $100 in Continental money, a lock of Calhoun's hair, lists of names of government officials, and the last speech which Calhoun delivered in the U.S. Senate.
The unfinished monument was unveiled on April 26, 1887, and Charleston's residents quickly dubbed the statue, "Calhoun and his wife." The ladies association from the beginning were dissatisfied with the final result. Calhoun's pose and his Prince Albert Coat were inappropriate. His right index finger which pointed in a different direction than the others (a habit peculiar to him in speeches) was exaggerated to the point of deformity. The final objection was most telling-the female figure's disheveled appearance.
Finally in 1895 the ladies of the Calhoun Monument Association were in a position to commission J. Massey Rhind of New York (with $20,000 funds in hand), to design another statue. The first monument was cut off at the base and a new column erected. "Mr. Calhoun No. 2," was erected June 27, 1896.
Today the second monument rises 80 feet over Marion Square and shows John C. Calhoun standing at ease with his cloak over his shoulders, a scroll in his left hand, looking over the city.