Bolivar Missouri Statue of Simon Bolivar

The City of Bolivar is a storied town with a rich history. Some of this history hails from the namesake of the town, Simon Bolivar. Bolivar was also recognized as the village name due to the heroics of General Simon Bolivar in South America. The grandfather of the town’s early settlers, Ezekiel Polk, had served in the army of General George Washington in the Revolutionary War, which filled him with reverence for liberators of the common man and the downtrodden. The town was named Bolivar without objection. Simon Bolivar was a South American-born leader who became the most powerful on the continent. He abhorred slavery and worked to abolish it across all countries. He was a great admirer of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and even sent his nephew to learn at the University of Virginia. He hoped to unite all South Americans under one nation but ultimately was not successful. Instead, he and his followers established what is now Colombia, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Statues of him are everywhere, in addition to currencies named after him, as well as towns and cities. Bolivar, Missouri, is no exception and continues to honor his heroism today.

The event that perhaps cemented Simon Bolivar’s legacy in this rural town came in 1948 when North and South America came together in the heat of the Missouri summer. On July 5, 1948, President Harry S. Truman, along with Venezuelan President Romulo Gallegos, gathered to dedicate a statue of Simon in the largest town in the United States named after him. Over 50,000 people packed into a town with no more than 3,500 residents for the ceremony, timed to celebrate both American and Venezuelan days of independence (July 4 and 5, respectively). Both presidents shared remarks, and the statue was unveiled in the sweltering heat, with some being treated for heat exhaustion and President Truman proclaiming to the crowd that he did not eat that day as the heat had smothered his appetite. The speech is considered a classic and often called the “granddaddy” of his whistle stops in 1948. The statue now serves as a reminder that no matter where you come from, you are welcome in Bolivar, Missouri.

President Truman’s closing paragraph was perhaps the most impactful:
“If at times our progress seems slow, we must remain steadfast in the faith which sustained the great leaders of the past who, like Simon Bolivar, fought for human liberty and understanding among the nations. This monument will be an enduring symbol of these great aspirations, of the warm friendship between Venezuela and the United States. In this spirit, I am glad to accept this statue on behalf of the Government and the people of the United States.”

The statue is located at Neuhart Park, College St., and Springfield Ave. It was made possible by a gift from the government of Venezuela to the people of Bolivar, Missouri. The base is made of black Carrara marble and white marble. The statue itself is bronze. Bolivar is “depicted standing in a decorative, high-collared military uniform, without a hat. He wears a cape wrapped over his left shoulder and arm and around his waist. In his right hand, he holds a sword while holding a scroll in his left hand. The sculpture is about 10 feet tall and stands atop a 14-foot-tall marble base. The monument is surrounded by a square picket fence with flags of the United States and Venezuela flown inside the fence.”

The text on the base reads:
The Government
and the people of Venezuela
To the Noble city which renders through it name,
a perpetual homage
To the memory of the liberator
July 5th 1948
El gobierno
Y el pueblo de Venezuela
a la noble ciudad que rinde con su nombre,
perpetuo homenaje
a la memoria del libertador
5 de Julio de 1948
Dedication Plaque Text:
Presented by President Romulo Gallegos
Dedicated by President Harry S. Truman of
the United States
Bolivar, Missouri
July 5th, 1948



711 S Springfield Ave, Bolivar, MO 65613 ~ Located at Neuhart Park, E. College St., and S. Springfield Ave. in Polk County, Bolivar, MO.