Nov. 16, 1826 - April 12, 1913
John Brooks Henderson was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Lincoln County, Missouri when he was six years old. By age 10, he was an orphan.
Henderson overcame what could have been a life of obscurity to be a Pike County teacher, lawyer, and state legislator. He lived and worked in Louisiana, and was the first president of the Bank of Louisiana. During the early part of the Civil War, he served as a brigadier general in Missouri's Union militia.
In 1862, Henderson was appointed a U.S. Senator and within six weeks of arriving in Washington, he began regular meetings with President Abraham Lincoln.
Though a one-time slave owner himself, Henderson in 1864 drafted and introduced the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing human bondage — the first time the nation's founding document had been altered in 60 years.
Henderson also was a strong campaigner for women's voting rights, supported better relations with Native Americans, fought against federal government corruption, was one of only seven Republicans who voted to acquit Democrat President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges, and played a role in the temperance movement.
Land for the park you are in was donate by Henderson and his wife, Mary Foote Henderson, to the City of Louisiana in May 1903. They are
buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, along with their son, John Brooks Henderson Jr.
While Henderson was a strict constitutionalist, he embraced changes that would lead to a more equitable nation. The maverick served at times as a Republican and a Democrat, but upset people of all parties.
Henderson realized what made America unique, and understood perhaps the most meaningful principle of its democracy - those in power rule only at the behest of the greater voting masses. His words still echo across the ages.
"If you commit errors, or outrage public sentiment, I want no other revolution than the right of the ballot box. With the Constitution unimpaired, we may yet appeal to the popular heart for the approval of right and the redress of wrong."
[Reverse, top plaque:]
Sculpture conceived and created by Louisiana artist John Stoeckley.
Wording by Pike County historian Brent Engel.
Dedicated by the Louisiana Bicentennial Committee on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, with generous support from the Missouri Humanities Council, residents and businesses.
[Reverse, bottom plaque:]
The 13th Amendment
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party hall
have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.