The memorial to labor leader Samuel A. Gompers, founder and first president of the American Federation of Labor, was dedicated in 1933, with President Franklin Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt in attendance. The bronze seated portrait of Gompers is placed on a pedestal in front of a large granite plinth supporting six allegorical male and female figures representing aspects of the American labor movement: Justice, Unity and Cooperation of the Labor Movement, the Protection of the Home, and the Overthrow of Industrial Exploitation by Education. It was sculpted by Robert I. Aitken and donated by the American Federation of Labor.
As one of the country’s leading advocates of the labor movement in the 19th century, Samuel Gompers had a major influence on union organizing. He helped to found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, which steadily grew in numbers throughout the next decade. One of the most notable contributions of the AFL was advocating for the eight-hour workday. With the creation of the AFL, Gompers’s position as president of the Federation cemented the powers that trade unions had to organize and influence industry throughout the country.
Samuel Gompers Memorial Park is made up of two major trapezoidal reservations on Massachusetts Avenue between 10th and 12th Streets, NW. They were first improved in 1875, and landscaped by the 1880s. Quarter-round concrete coping replaced the perimeter post-and-chain enclosures in 1904. The statue of Samuel A. Gompers was erected in 1933, and the land was officially designated Samuel Gompers Memorial Park in 1955.
Within Shaw Historic District.
DC Inventory: February 22, 2007
National Register: October 11, 2007