Spirit of the American Doughboy, Charlotte
Rendered in pressed copper, the life-size statue depicts a World War One American Doughboy. He stands atop a square tapered marble pedestal which itself rests on a square marble base. Including the base the statue reaches a total height of thirteen and one-half feet tall. The soldier stands upright in the process of taking a step through barbed wire (now missing). In his left hand is held a rifle with a bayonet (bayonet now missing along with the rifles sling) and his right arm is raised holding a grenade. He is dressed in the combat attire of the common soldier of the period, wearing the classic, flat and wide-rimmed helmet. Bronze plaques adore each side of the finished stone pedestal.
Front: FOR GOD AND COUNTRY / IN HONOR OF / THE MEN OF MECKLENBURG COUNTY, / NORTH CAROLINA / WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTY / DURING THE WORLD WAR / 1917-1919
Rear: THIS MEMORIAL / ERECTED BY / CITIZENS OF THIS COMMUNITY / IN APPRECIATION OF / WAR SERVICE IN THE CAUSE / OF WORLD-LIBERTY AND JUSTICE
Left side: THERE IS NO HIGHER SERVICE / TO ONE’S COUNTRY / THAN DUTY WITH THE FLAG
Right side: THEIR MANHOOD PREVAILED: / THEIR CAUSE TRIUMPHED.
City of Charlotte
May 30, 1923. Rededication: November 11, 1928
35.221420 , -80.838410 View in Geobrowse
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. “Director's Report. December 14, 2009. Action Items,” (accessed June 16, 2019) Link
“Charlotte, North Carolina.” The E.M. Viquesney Doughboy Database, (accessed June 26, 2015) Link
“Doughboy Statue to Be Erected in Court House Square,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), October 15, 1922
“Doughboy Unveiling Features Armistice Observance,” Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), November 11, 1928
“French Envoy Is Asked Here,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), October 22 , 1922
“Lejeune Lauds the War Record of Carolinians,” Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), May 31, 1923
“Soldier Statue Will Be Raised,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), October 1, 1922
“The Doughboy to Be Unveiled,” Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), May 27, 1923
“WWI Doughboy Is Coming Home,” Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), August 14, 1975
Stamped copper statue, bronze plaques, granite base
C.O. Kuester, business manager of the Chamber of Commerce and community donations
Major General John A. Lejeune, commandant of the United States Marine Corps was the keynote speaker. He said: “These men, whose heroism we commemorate today, kept the faith. They dared all, they gave all and, glory to God, they and their comrades saved the liberty of Europe and of their own beloved country. By their deeds they have written on the scroll of fame in letters of blood the names of the battles of Belleau Woods, the Marne, the Vesle, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, the Champagne, Blanc Mont ridge, the Somme offensive, Bellicourt, the crossing of the Meuse, and many others.” John Oliver Ranson and Julian Squires, sons of Mecklenburg County men killed during the war pulled cords to reveal the statue.
After being relocated due to construction of a new court house the statue was rededicated in 1928. Rev. Herbert Spaugh, pastor of Myers Park Moravian Church, gave the principal speech during which he “sounded a warning” to the obedience of law, noting that lawlessness was a “greater foe” than that faced during World War One. In 1975, by then, retired Bishop Spaugh, gave a dedication prayer when the monument was relocated to city hall.
This statue was purchased by C.O. Kuester of his own volition on the belief that Charlotte needed a memorial to the men of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County that had served in World War One. He had seen the statue at the 1922 Made-in-Carolinas Exposition held in Charlotte at the booth of the Charlotte Marble and Granite Works. He purchased it with his own funds and after the fact solicited public subscriptions to cover the costs.
This statue is one of some 140 World War One Doughboys made by E.M. Viquesney that are still standing, most made from pressed copper. Viquesney mass-produced the statues and corresponding collectible miniatures from the 1920s to the 1940s, with the World War One Doughboy becoming perhaps his most well-known creation and securing his renown as a sculptor of World War One and World War Two soldier figures. See Spirit of the American Doughboy in Nashville and World War II Memorial in Belmont.
The form of this statue is called “The Spirit of the American Doughboy,” and was the prize winner in a contest for the best statue depicting the spirit of the American World War One soldier. The contest was participated in by thousands of American sculptors.
The monument is located at the corner of South Alexander and East 4th Streets, Charlotte, NC
The sculptor sits on the lawn of City Hall, with trees and shrubbery making a nice backdrop.
The statue was first located in the square of a county courthouse on S. Tyron St. that no longer stands. That site became Central High School and is now part of Central Piedmont Community College. That courthouse demolition forced the first relocation in 1928 to the corner of Cecil Street (now Kings Drive) and Park Drive near Memorial Stadium. Road and other construction project left the statue in an isolated location and subject to vandalism. In 1974 after a $3,500 restoration it was moved to the lawn of city hall facing East Trade. It was later repositioned to its current location facing 4th Street. In May, 2014 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission approved a plan that would see the statue moved to the American Legion Memorial Stadium as a part of the plan for stadium renovations.