Slaveholder Douglas' Statute to Be Removed From Illinois Capitol Lawn - POLSKA УКРАЇНА

A statute of Stephen A. Douglas, a 19th-century senator from Illinois who owned slaves and espoused the notion that each territory should decide whether slavery would be allowed, will be removed from the state Capitol lawn, officials decided Wednesday.  The board of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol voted unanimously to remove the statute of Douglas, whose career-long nemesis was Abraham Lincoln. Along with the statue of Douglas, a rendering of Pierre Menard, an early Illinois settler, politician and slave owner, could be gone by this fall, Architect of the Capitol Andrea Aggertt told the board.  Aggertt said she had spoken to contractors but did not have a cost for removal and storage in a secure location.  The action came after House Speaker Michael Madigan in July asked the board to consider removing portraits and statuary of Douglas in and around the Capitol. The Chicago Democrat said he had recently read about Douglas’ profiting from family-owned slaves. After George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked a nationwide movement to remove Confederate symbols, Madigan decided that references to Douglas should be banished.  Douglas, who tangled with Lincoln in Illinois politics before he went to Washington, was elected to the Senate in 1847 and burnished his mark as statesman when with prominent Whig Sen. Henry Clay he fashioned the Compromise of 1850. It settled the matter of lands ceded in the Mexican War and put Douglas’ notion of “popular sovereignty” — that U.S. territories could decide for themselves whether to allow slavery — into the political lexicon.  The idea delayed the Civil War and helped him best Lincoln in his 1858 bid for reelection to the Senate, long remembered because of a series of debates between the two, but proved his undoing by the time the two squared off for president in 1860, on the eve of war.  The father of Douglas’ first wife bequeathed a Mississippi plantation with 100 slaves to his daughter in 1847. Douglas sidestepped a political conundrum by hiring a plantation manager while he kept 20% of the income.  Menard, who became a successful fur trader in southwestern Illinois nearly 30 years before statehood and was the state’s first lieutenant governor, owned slaves as late as 1830, records show. Other artworkMembers of the architect board, consisting of Tim Anderson, secretary of the Senate; House Clerk John Hollman; Scott Kaiser, assistant secretary of the Senate; and assistant House clerk Brad Bolin, said they have final say on the removal. But they took no action on the prominent Douglas statue inside the Capitol, or his portrait in the House chamber, voting to take an inventory of all paintings, murals, statues, and other art in the 1876 building.  The board also voted to seek a rule change that would allow Capitol lawn commemorations of people without direct ties to Illinois. It’s the reason a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. is across the street on the lawn of the Illinois State Library. The board would like to see King memorialized more prominently. Kaiser suggested that the King statue be replaced. The depiction of the Civil Rights leader marching with open collar and suit jacket slung over his shoulder has been criticized as too casual.  Douglas, whose grave in Chicago lies beneath a 96-foot granite monument, has fallen out of favor elsewhere. The Chicago Park District in July rededicated a park for Frederick Douglass, the Black scholar and abolitionist, and a member of the Springfield Park Board is seeking a similar change in the capital city. 
 

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