Democrats Propose Abraham Lincoln Statue Removal

Democrats Propose Abraham Lincoln Statue Removal
The Emancipation Memorial in Washington's Lincoln Park depicts a freed slave kneeling at the feet of President Abraham Lincoln, June 25, 2020. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Democrat and Confederate President Jefferson Davis may have been unable to expel President Abraham Lincoln from the capitol, but Democrat delegate Eleanor Norton (D-D.C.) might.

Norton, Washington D.C.’s non-voting Congressional representative, reintroduced legislation to remove a statue of Lincoln with a kneeling freed slave.

The statue has stood in Lincoln Park near the Capitol since 1876. It depicts a slave, shirtless and shackles broken, about to stand up. Lincoln stretches out his hand over the man.

Freed slaves paid for its creation. But according to Norton’s press release, that’s not enough.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 21, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 21, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
“The paternalistic statue depicting a Black man on his knees in front of President Lincoln fails to recognize African Americans’ agency in pressing for their own emancipation,” the delegate’s press release reads.

Norton’s bill would have the statue removed from Lincoln Park and placed in a museum “with an explanation of its origin and meaning.”

She also noted that the freed slaves who paid for the statue didn’t get input in its design.

“Although formerly enslaved Americans paid for this statue, the design and sculpting process was done without their input or participation, and it shows,” Norton said. “At the time, they had only recently been liberated from slavery and were grateful for any recognition of their freedom.”

Norton noted that renowned abolitionist and freed slave Frederick Douglass spoke to dedicate the stature but “pointedly did not praise the statue.”

Past and Present

Douglass’s speech expresses a complex set of feelings. He refers to Lincoln as the “white man’s President” but also praises him as a “great man” and “liberator” who “hated slavery.”

“We have done a good work for our race today,” Douglass said at the statue’s unveiling. “In doing honor to the memory of our friend and liberator, we have been doing highest honors to ourselves and those who come after us; we have been fastening ourselves to a name and fame imperishable and immortal; we have also been defending ourselves from a blighting scandal.”

The scandal, he continued, was that African Americans would be accused of ingratitude toward the man who freed them.

In a letter to the National Republican newspaper reprinted in Smithsonian Magazine, Douglass told the public he would like to see a statue of a standing and clothed free slave too.

“Perhaps no one monument could be made to tell the whole truth of any subject which it might be designed to illustrate,” he wrote.

The Epoch Times reached out to Norton for comment but didn’t receive a response by the time of publishing.