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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    John Motley Morehead, State Capitol, Raleigh

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

    Historic Educational Figures

    Historic Philanthropic Figures

    Historic Civic Figures

  • Creator

    Frederick Wellington Ruckstull, Sculptor

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    John Motley Morehead was the first governor to serve in the Capitol for a full term from 1840-1845, is portrayed in this marble bust, which sits in the rotunda of the North Carolina Capitol building. The corners of Morehead's mouth are turned slightly upwards as if he is about to smile; he wears a high-collared shirt, a vest, and jacket complete with bow tie.

  • Inscription

    Front: JOHN M. MOREHAD / 1796-1866

  • Custodian

    State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Historical Commission

  • Dedication Date

    December 4, 1912

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.780370 , -78.639090 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Folder 92_R16_C244b4: Raleigh, Wake County: Capitol Building: Scan 6," in the North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link

      "John Morehead Bust in Rotunda," Flickr, (accessed December 12, 2011) Link

      "Visit the North Carolina State Capitol," North Carolina Historic Sites,, (accessed April 9, 2019) Link

      Connor, R. D. W., John Motely Morehead, J. Bryan Grimes, and James Yadkin Joyner. Exercises in Connection with the Presentation to the State by the North Carolina Historical Commission of a Bust of John Motley Morehead : Hall of the House of Representatives, December 4, 1912 (1912), (accessed December 11, 2011) Link

      Konkle, Burton Alva. John Motley Morehead and the Development of North Carolina, 1796-1866, (Philadelphia, PA: William J. Campbell, 1922), (accessed May 16, 2012) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Sponsors

    The bust was donated by Morehead's grandsons, John Motley Morehead and J. Lindsay Patterson.

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    R.D.W. Connor, J. Brian Grimes, and the J.Y. Joyner (Superintendent of Public Instruction) all gave addresses at the dedication.

  • Subject Notes

    John Motley Morehead, a UNC alumnus, was the governor of North Carolina from 1841 to 1848. He was known for his contribution in the construction of the railroad systems in North Carolina and for his advocacy of public education.

    [Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]

  • Location

    The bust is located in the North Carolina Sate Capitol building in the rotunda on the first floor of the building in Raleigh, NC.

  • Landscape

    The bust sits in a niche inside the rotunda. The interior of the rotunda houses other State Capitol memorials including statuary, paintings, and plaques commemorating significant events and individuals in North Carolina's history. A 1970 copy of Antonio Canova's original statue of George Washington stands in the center.

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