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NYC to Remove ‘Slave Owner’ Thomas Jefferson’s Statue

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: October 21, 2021
Thomas Jefferson's statue in the chambers of the New York City Council may soon be removed.
Thomas Jefferson's statue in the chambers of the New York City Council may soon be removed. (Image: ColleenConger via Pixabay)

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most renowned figures in American history. A principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was also the third President of the United States. Jefferson’s statue in the chambers of the New York City (NYC) Council has been the focus of cancel culture activists for quite some time. NYC authorities have reportedly caved into the demand and decided to remove the 188-year-old statue.

Dating back to 1883, the statue has been in the City Council chamber since 1915. On Oct. 18, New York’s Public Design Commission, which oversees NYC’s collection of public art, voted to relocate the statue due to requests by the City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. All eight people who voted on the issue supported removing the statue.

Councilmember Inez Barron told the commission that a statue of Jefferson in a room where New Yorkers gathered to govern was inappropriate. In a presentation before the commission, Councilmember Adrienne Adams, co-chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, said that Jefferson had owned more than 600 slaves.

“It makes me deeply uncomfortable knowing that we sit in the presence of a statue that pays homage to a slaveholder who fundamentally believed that people who look like me were inherently inferior, lacked intelligence, and were not worthy of freedom or rights,” Adams said.

Todd Fine, president of the Washington Street Advocacy Group, asked commissioners why the statue could not simply be moved to another area, like the governor’s room.

“To disown Jefferson now with despotism on the rise in our country as never before in our lifetimes would be a symbolic blow, especially to the most vulnerable among us, for whom Jefferson’s cry of equality remains the last best hope,” Fine said.

A final decision on the fate of the statue is yet to be taken. The commission has pledged that it will find a suitable location for the statue in the public realm by the end of 2021.

The removal of Jefferson’s statue has become a key focus of the NYC Mayoral race, with Republican candidate Curtis Silwa questioning the drive behind wiping out the history of American patriots who had slaves when slavery was “common at that time.” Democrat candidate Eric Adams insisted that there are other figures to honor besides Jefferson.

Republican Councilman Joe Borelli criticized the city government for deciding to move the statue. “The de Blasio administration will continue the progressive war on history as he, himself, fades away into a portrait on a City Hall wall… I hope he is at least gone a couple hundred years before someone cancels him,” Borelli said to New York Post.

In June last year, NYC Mayor, Democrat Bill DeBlasio, had placed his wife Chirlane McCray as the head of the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation to decide the fate of Jefferson’s statue. Her appointment followed the death of George Floyd and a subsequent surge in the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a statement, former President Donald Trump warned that Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin could be the next targets of leftist groups.

“Who would have thought this would ever be possible (I did, and called it long ago!)… The Radical Left has gone crazy, and it’s hurting our Country badly—But someday soon, sane people will be back, and our Country will be respected again!” Trump said.