Posted on September 20, 2018

Controversial Confederate Statues Remain in U.S. Capitol Despite Being Removed Elsewhere

Bill Theobald, USA Today, September 19, 2018


But one very public place where more than a dozen of these symbols of the confederacy and racism remain relatively undisturbed – and little debated – is the country’s shrine to democracy: the U.S. Capitol.


And little is heard these days about the statues in the Capitol.

Each state chooses two residents to be honored with statues in the Capitol, with most located in Statuary Hall.

Those from southern states include:

— Eight who fought for the Confederacy, including General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

— The president and vice president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Hamilton Stephens.

— John Calhoun, former South Carolina senator who was one of the most forceful advocates for slavery, arguing in one famous floor speech that slavery was not evil. “I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be, to both (races), and will continue to prove so, if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition,” he said.

In addition, one of North Carolina’s honorees is Charles Aycock, who was one of the leaders of the white supremacy campaigns of 1898 and 1900 that led to the disenfranchisement of most black voters and the implementation of Jim Crow laws. {snip}

The North Carolina legislature passed a bill in 2015 to replace the statue of Aycock with one of the Rev. Billy Graham. But only people who have died can be honored with a statue in the U.S. Capitol. Graham died in February, and in April state legislative leaders named a committee to work on switching the statues.

West Virginia became a state and part of the Union during the Civil War, but one of its statues honors John Kenna, who served in the Confederate Army.

Alabama replaced the statue of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, a Confederate officer, with Helen Keller in 2009.

Legislation to remove from the Capitol the statues of people who served the Confederacy was introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate in September 2017, but neither bill has made any progress in the GOP-controlled bodies.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have led the effort on those bills {snip}.

Other bills introduced in this Congress include one to ban the use of federal funds to pay for any symbol of the confederacy on public land. The bill also would require military installations commemorating Confederate military leaders to be renamed. Another bill would require federal agencies to create an inventory of all monuments, statues, flags and other items that include images of the Confederacy.


Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., a co-sponsor of the bill to remove all statues with Confederate connections from the U.S. Capitol, said he has little hope for major action to occur in Washington in the near future.