Thomas Jefferson statue removed from City Hall after 187 years
Thomas Jefferson is no longer in the room where it happens.
Art handlers packed up an 884-pound statue of Jefferson in a wooden crate Monday after a mayoral commission voted to banish the likeness of the nation’s third president from City Hall, where it’s resided for nearly two centuries — because he owned slaves.
About a dozen workers with Marshall Fine Arts spent several hours carefully removing the painted plaster monument from its pedestal inside the City Council chambers and surrounding it with sections of foam and wooden boards.
They then lowered the massive structure down the stairs leading to the building’s first-floor rotunda with a pulley system and ushered the Founding Father out the back door. …
Keri Butler, executive director of the Public Design Commission that voted to banish the statue, at first tried to block the press from witnessing its removal. Butler relented after members of the mayor’s office and City Council intervened.
The commission also attempted to vote on the statue’s removal without a public hearing on the controversial move until The Post revealed the plan.
In so many ways, George Washington was the founding father of the United States. He was a national hero, a war veteran and a victorious general. He sacrificed everything for his country. He was unanimously chosen to preside over the Constitutional Convention and was the first to sign the United States Constitution in 1787. He was the only president to lead an army into battle as commander-in-chief. He was the only person to be unanimously elected president, and the electoral college unanimously elected him twice.
He was also a slave owner. And for many people in America today, that fact is the only one that matters. …
Prager University released a video on April 22 about a study it conducted on the George Washington University campus, asking students whether they thought the name of the university should be changed.
The interviewer asked one young man, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say ‘George Washington’?” He replied, “I think about him owning slaves.”
That’s the first thing that comes to mind? This is George Washington we’re talking about. This student doesn’t immediately think “founding father,” “national hero,” “sacrifice,” “Constitution,” “commander-in-chief” or “first president.” He thinks “slave owner”? …
George Washington University was founded in 1821 by an act of Congress. According to gwu’s website, the university’s goal was to “fulfill the vision of our first president and now namesake’s vision that our nation’s capital be an educational center to prepare leaders.” That was clearly written at a time when America took pride in the legacy of its preeminent founder. In 2018, however, the institution’s own students want to erase that history.
That’s why you see campaigns all over the U.S. to pull down statues and stamp out that history. The controversy last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia, saw demonstrators for and against removing a Robert E. Lee statue. One man who supported keeping the statue drove his car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring more than a dozen. In addition to him, however, as President Donald Trump said at a press conference at the time, there were violent thugs on both sides at the Charlottesville protests.
At that press conference, President Trump also said: “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
One reporter shouted out, “George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same!” But President Trump responded, “Well now, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? … Are we going to take down statues of George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? … Are we going to take down his statue because he was a major slave owner? … You’re changing history. You’re changing culture.”
He was right. President Trump had the prescience to see where this trend was going. But at the time, the press jumped on those comments, taking the opportunity to ridicule the president for his “ignorance.”
“Why Donald Trump Was Right About George Washington,” June 18, 2018