Edwin Lerner

Statues of 6 American Presidents in London

Students and fans of American politics will be pleasantly surprised to find that dotted across London are seven statues of six American presidents. These can be discovered on a guided tour of London with a knowledgeable Blue Badge Tourist Guide but I have highlighted below:

George Washington Statue in London

American tourists are often surprised that there is a statue of their first president in the heart of London at Trafalgar Square. The statue shows Washington holding a bundle of 13 fasces which represent the original 13 states of the newly created United States of America. There is a popular legend that Washington, whose family came from the North East of England, had said he would never set foot on British soil again so some American soil was put under the statue comply with his wishes. It is a replica of an original by Jean Antoine Houdon and was given to Britain by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1924.
Statute of United States President George Washington in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons. Statue of United States President George Washington in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons.

Abraham Lincoln Statue in London

Abraham Lincoln is arguably the most admired American president in Britain despite the fact that the southern states of the Confederacy provided slave-produced cotton which English factories and mills in the north were dependent on and they suffered badly because of the American civil war. Lincoln’s statue stands opposite the Houses of Parliament near to those other champions of the oppressed: Mandela and Gandhi. As with the Washington statue, Lincoln’s is a replica of one in the United States by Augustus Saint Gaudens which can be seen in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. It was unveiled in 1920 to commemorate 100 years of peace between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Statute of United States President Abraham Lincoln in London. Photo Credit: ©Sir James via Wikimedia Commons.
Statue of United States President Abraham Lincoln in London. Photo Credit: ©Sir James via Wikimedia Commons.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Statue in London

If Lincoln has a rival in the affections of the British people, it is Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) whose statue stands in Grosvenor Square where there has been an American presence for over 200 years. A monument like FDR’s would be impossible today as it shows him upright when in reality he was confined to a wheelchair after contracting polio in 1921. Roosevelt assumed that his political career was over but his formidable wife Eleanor told him that ‘the only thing he had to fear was fear itself’, a line he recycled effectively when he led the United States out of depression in the New Deal. He also led the United States into war and effectively ended any possibility Hitler had of gaining victory. The statue, by William Reid Dick, was unveiled by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1948 with the Queen, Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill present. It was paid for by the British people, 160,000 of whom paid five shillings (25p) each at a time of rationing and hardship, the money raised in under a week. Apart from the official statue of Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, there is an informal one of him and Churchill sitting and chatting in Bond Street.

Statue of United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in London. Photo Credit: ©Bill Harrison via Wikimedia Commons.
Statue of United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in London. Photo Credit: ©Bill Harrison via Wikimedia Commons.

Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower Statue in London

Ike, as he was popularly known, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s general in World War II and was based in Grosvenor Square, which had sustained an American presence virtually since the United States was born. I once heard a story that the Duke of Westminster, whose family owned the land, refused to sell it and insisting on a leasing agreement instead. Eisenhower pestered the Duke so much that eventually he agreed to do so but only on condition that his family regained all the land they had owned in America before independence. As this was most of Illinois, including Chicago, that deal never came about. It is a good story, but I can find no confirmation of it. Eisenhower’s statue, the only one of a President in uniform, was unveiled in 1989 with Margaret Thatcher in attendance.
Statute of United States President Dwight Eisenhower in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons.
Statue of United States President Dwight Eisenhower in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons.

Ronald Wilson Reagan Statue in London

Mrs. Thatcher would have really liked to have unveiled this monument to her friend Ronald Reagan, but ill health prevented her from attending when it was unveiled by the US Ambassador. Reagan never quite enjoyed the affection of the British people in the way that other American presidents did but he was given credit by his admirers for helping to end the Cold War, maybe his most famous saying being his appeal to “take down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev!” The Ronald Reagan Foundation paid for the ten-foot (three-meter) tall bronze statue which was unveiled on Independence Day 2011 when Reagan would have been 100 years old.
Statue of United States President Ronald Reagan in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons. Statue of United States President Ronald Reagan in London. Photo Credit: ©Ham via Wikimedia Commons.

John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy Statue in London

This is a personal favourite, a modest bust of JFK standing next to a magnolia tree opposite Regent’s Park, where the American ambassador has his official residence at Winfield House. Jack Kennedy spent part of his youth thereafter his father Joe was made ambassador to Britain by Roosevelt. Jack, as he was called, had planned to study at the London School of Economics, but returned to the USA before this was possible and enrolled in the navy, became a war hero and, after his brother, Joe was killed on a bombing mission, became the focus of his father’s hopes for the presidency. Coming from Irish ancestry, the elder Kennedy never lost the anti-British attitudes he was born with and tried to persuade Roosevelt to stay out of the war. His son loved Britain, however, and was loved in return. Like Roosevelt’s statue, this one was paid for by the British, the readers of the Daily Telegraph raising £50,000 in donations of a pound each. The statue was unveiled by his brother Bobby, like Jack a victim of the assassin’s bullet.

Statute of United States President John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy in London. Photo Credit: ©Edwin Lerner.
Statue of United States President John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy in London. Photo Credit: ©Edwin Lerner.

Edwin Lerner

Named Edwin (an early king of Northern England) but usually called ‘Eddie’, I conducted extended tours around Britain and Ireland for many years and now work as a freelance guide and tour manager with a little writing and editing on the side.  I specialise in public transport and walking…

7 responses to “Statues of 6 American Presidents in London”

  1. John Breaux says:

    I’m surprised the George Washington statue hasn’t been removed. He fought against his own country at the time – sort of a civil war back then, if you’re British.

    • Ulterior Motive says:

      He didn’t lose. People only take down statues of losers. For instance all the slave owning losers from the Confederacy. Those really are some spectacular losers. Also had the confederacy won the civil war, and then went on to defeat the Nazi’s and the Kaiser, well I bet we would have statues of Lee and Davis in New York and D.C. But we don’t because they were losers. Losers that lost really badly. Total defeat type of losers. Pathetic. SAD!

      • Jeremie Edwards says:

        that entire post sounded a lot like Trump.

        • 45thPresidentIllBeMoneyOneDay says:

          Why thank you. Not a lot of people know this, but let me tell you, sounding like the greatest President in history, I mean any president, even presidents of colleges, okay, so that is, at least I’ve heard, people have told me, is a GREAT COMPLIMENT> #MAGAMAN #MEGAMAN #TPFORYOURBUNGHOLETRUMPPENCE2020

        • Sean Thechef says:

          You don’t understand. Under Trump’s leadership we’ve reached the year 2019.
          The highest numbered year in history.
          Much higher than Obama.

          • Jeremie Edwards says:

            Well, that was about the weakest attempt at trolling that I have seen in a very long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

Transport for London Launches Night Tube

Visitors to London will be pleased to hear that Transport for London will launch a night time tube service starting the early hours of 12 September. Thereafter, there will be a round-the-clock service on Fridays and Saturdays on Jubilee, Victoria, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.

Read more

The Dark Side of Chelsea in London

It is often stated that fact is stranger than fiction, and to prove the point, many literary figures have complicated and interesting stories themselves. Let’s explore some of them on a tour of London’s Chelsea neighbourhood.

Read more