Sunday, June 26

New York removes a statue of Thomas Jefferson from City Hall for his slave-owning past


The image of the father of the country and former president of the United States stop presiding over the council room

The statue of Thomas Jefferson to be
The statue of Thomas Jefferson to be removedCarlo AllegriReuters
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The statue of Thomas Jefferson, one of the American fathers and first author of the Declaration of Independence, stop presiding over the boardroom of the New York City Council for his slave past.

The decision is part of the intense debate that arose in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated at the knee of a white policeman and who led the Black Lives Matter movement.

The racial inequalities that the coronavirus pandemic revealed and the debate over whether the monuments of the Confederates, who defended slavery in the civil war, should be removed are part of that movement that has been growing strongly in the last year.

Latino and black councilors of the New York City Council had demanded for years the removal of the statue of Jefferson, just over two meters high, who for more than a century has presided over meetings in the council room of the City Hall.

Main author of the Declaration of Independence in (1776) and third president of the United States (1801-1809), Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves and had more than six children with one of them, Sally Hemings.

“Jefferson represents some of the most embarrassing parts of our country’s long and nuanced history,” African-American councilor Adrienne Adams was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

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After heated discussions about the future location of the statue, the commission also decided that be transferred to the New York Historical Society, who has accepted the loan, in order to “protect the artwork and provide opportunities to display it in an educational and historical context.”

Harvard Law School professor and Jefferson specialist Annette Gordon-Reed, also black, disagrees with the session’s decision. “I understand why people want to withdraw it, although I do not agree. It would be good if it was accompanied by an explanation,” he said on Twitter.

“It would be good for everyone. I could think of all kinds of information that could go along with it. It would serve the purpose of the story,” he added.

The plaster statue, modeled after the bronze Jefferson model on display in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, was commissioned in 1833 by Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish Commodore in the US Navy, to commemorate the support of one of the Fathers of the Nation to religious freedom in the armed forces.

Made by the celebrated French artist Pierre-Jean David d’Angers, Washington’s statue was dedicated to the American people and the plaster copy reached New York City Hall around 1834.

In 2019, the city of Jefferson, Charlottesville in Virginia, decided to stop celebrating the holiday that commemorated the anniversary of this revolutionary leader who together with George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison unified the Thirteen Colonies and led the war of independence from the United Kingdom that gave rise to the birth of the new United States in the last decades of the 18th century.

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Like many regions of the world, as seen recently with Cristbal Coln, whose role has been questioned by indigenous peoples in Latin America, New York City has begun to reflect on many historical figures.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would review the “symbols of hatred” from the city following the 2017 white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, which began as a simple protest against the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

Thus, the statue of the father of modern gynecology, Marion Sims, who perfected his techniques using slaves, has been removed, and the statue of Theodoro Roosevelt at the entrance of the Museum of Natural History, which is not yet available, was approved at the beginning of the year. it has come to fruition.

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