If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her way, 11 soldiers and statesmen of the Confederacy will face their last stand in the halls of the U.S. Capitol amid calls for the removal of their likenesses in the wake of the death of a black man.
Pelosi, D-California, sent a letter Wednesday to the Architect of the Capitol requesting that 11 statues of men who fought for the Confederate States of America in the U.S. Civil War be removed from Statuary Hall, a place in the U.S. Capitol building that displays statutes of people from every U.S. state.
Pelosi said in the letter that the statues “pay homage to hate, not heritage,” and that “They must be removed.”
The call for the removal of the statues come two weeks after George Floyd died on a Minneapolis street with a police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Protests, many that turned violent, have taken place in cities across the United States and around the world.
The statues that Pelosi has targeted were donated to the Capitol to represent their states in Statuary Hall. The statues came from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Seven of the men served in the Confederate Army. The list also includes the president and the vice president of the Confederacy.
One of the men helped found a law firm where Hillary Clinton would become its first female partner. Ten of the 11 were Democrats.
Here’s a look at the men whose statues are under the gun:
- Jefferson Davis, statue donated by Mississippi: Davis, who owned a cotton plantation in Mississippi before the Civil War, was the president of the Confederate States of America during the war.
- James Zachariah George, statue donated by Mississippi: George was a leader in the state during Reconstruction and was a staunch white supremacist. Called the “Great Commoner,” George was a lawyer and a member of the Mississippi Secession Convention. He signed the state’s Secession Ordinance.
- Wade Hampton, statue donated by South Carolina: Hampton was one of the largest slaveholders in the Southeast prior to the war. He fought for the Confederacy, reaching the rank of lieutenant general. After the war, he became the leader of the Redeemers, a political coalition that hoped to enforce white supremacy in all aspects of life. Hampton, a Democrat, was elected governor of South Carolina in a campaign that became known for its violence against black and Republican voters.
- John E. Kenna, statue donated by West Virginia: Kenna was 16 years old when he fought for the Confederacy. He was wounded, and when he returned home, he dedicated himself to becoming a lawyer. He was a prosecuting attorney and then a judge. Kenna, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. House in 1876 and to the U.S. Senate in 1883. He died in office at age 44.
- Robert E. Lee, statue donated by Virginia: Lee, a graduate of West Point, was the commander of the Confederate States Army. Lee married into one of the wealthiest slaveholding families in Virginia – the Custis family. Upon the death of his father-in-law, Lee was charged with managing Custis’ estate. He would eventually free Custis’ slaves, five years after Custis’ death, per the orders in his will. Lee also owned slaves.
- Uriah Milton Rose, statue donated by Arkansas: Rose, an attorney, was a strong supporter of the Confederacy. He became chairman of the Resolutions Committee of the state Democratic Party, determined "to preserve 'white man’s” government in a “white man’s country.” He served as president of the American Bar Association. He helped found the Rose Law Firm, where Hilary Clinton was a partner.
- Edmund Kirby Smith, statue donated by Florida: Smith was born into a wealthy slave-owning family in St. Augustine, Florida. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Mexican–American War, he joined the Confederate States Army to fight in the Civil War. Eventually, he would command the Trans-Mississippi Department after the fall of Vicksburg to Union forces. He was the last Confederate general to surrender after the end of the Civil War.
- Alexander Hamilton Stephens, statue donated by Georgia: Stephens was a Confederate politician who served as the vice president of the Confederate States. He was a Democratic representative in the U.S. House and was the governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883.
- Zebulon Baird Vance, statue donated by North Carolina: Vance was a member of the Confederate military before being elected governor of North Carolina and the U.S. Senate. Vance favored the modernization of the Southern economy following the war.
- Joseph Wheeler, statue donated by Alabama: Wheeler was a commander in the Confederate Army of Tennessee before he served as a general in the United States Army during both the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War.
- Edward Douglass White, statue donated by Louisiana: White was captured during the Civil War as he was fighting for the Confederacy. After the war, he was elected to the Louisiana state Senate and served on the Louisiana Supreme Court. A Democrat, White represented Louisiana in the United States Senate and was appointed an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. A few years later, President William Howard Taft appointed him chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Cox Media Group