COLUMBUS—He portrayed blacks as savages and supported the rights of southern slave owners.
The attitudes of William Allen, a 19th century congressman from Ohio who later served as governor, reflect poorly on the state, according to some 21st century lawmakers who want his statue removed from the National Statuary Hall, a large, semicircular room in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., that honors historic figures from each state.
An Ohio Senate committee unanimously passed a bill last week that would start the process of replacing Allen, one of two Ohioans representing the state. Ohio donated Allen’s statue to the Capitol’s collection in 1887, where it joined that of James Garfield, the nation’s 20th president, who was assassinated in 1881.
Even by the standards of his time, some of Allen’s comments during his lifetime were vitriolic and racist, said Doreen Uhas-Sauer, project director of the Annenberg Civic Education Initiative in the Columbus Public Schools.
“Slavery is not the cause of the war; it is the intermeddling of the northern fanatics with the rights and property of the people of the South,” Allen said at a political rally in 1863, two years after the start of the Civil War.