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Thomas Jefferson Statue To Be Banished From New York City Council Chamber

by : Hannah Smith on : 20 Oct 2021 20:30
Alamy

A statue of Thomas Jefferson that has stood in New York City Hall for more than 100 years is set to be removed from its spot following a unanimous vote by city officials.

The 7ft-tall statue of Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, was requested to be relocated by the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus following a reappraisal of his legacy, with the caucus citing his history of slave ownership.

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In a letter to New York City mayor Bill De Blasio, the caucus said the statue was ‘a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued communities of color since the inception of our country’, with co-chair Adrienne Adams telling a hearing on the statue’s future that ‘Jefferson embodies some of the most shameful parts of our country’s history’.

A statue of Thomas Jefferson (Alamy)Alamy

Jefferson is known to have owned more than 600 slaves, and fathered several children with one of his female slaves, Sally Hemings. At the time, female slaves had no legal right to reject unwanted sexual advances from their white masters.

The statue was set to be transferred into the hands of the New York Historical Society, The New York Times reports. However, alongside the unanimous vote, the council delayed a decision on where it should be relocated to, with several historians calling for it to be placed in another location inside City Hall.

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In testimony on Monday, October 18, Oxford historian Raymond Lavertue argued that while Jefferson was ‘massively flawed’, removing the statue would be ‘a very simple solution that will erase the debate’.

New York City Hall (Alamy)Alamy

The debate over the Jefferson statue has been ongoing for several decades, but re-entered public conversation amid a nationwide reckoning over monuments to slaveowners and Confederate figures in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Another historian told The New York Times that removing the Jefferson statue ‘represents a lumping together of the Confederates and a member of the founding generation in a way which I think minimizes the crimes and the problems with the Confederacy’.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism.

Topics: News, America, New York, Now, slavery, statue, US

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New York Times
  1. New York Times

    Jefferson Statue Will Be Removed From N.Y.C. Council Chambers