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house Bill H.R. 3701

Should Confederate Statues be Removed From Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol?

Argument in favor

Confederate statues in the U.S. Capitol serve as monuments to a shameful part of our nation’s past that is painful to many citizens. These statues should be removed from the Capitol and replaced with statues of people with less complicated legacies.

Mindful's Opinion
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08/12/2018
They possibly could remain, if there is added, in Bold Letters, “TRAITOR” at base of each statue. Otherwise, we could include a statue of Adolf Hitler. After all, he too, ‘contributed to our History’-albeit, not favorably! Remove these statues to the Smithsonian-basement level niche. Then replace them with a State’s memorable person who contributed to the advancement of American/United States ideals.
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Mike's Opinion
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08/12/2018
Why honor traitors in the very capital building they sought to destroy?
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John's Opinion
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08/12/2018
These statues should be removed. They not only represent those who practiced and supported slavery, but they represent those who rose up, as traitors, against the Constitution. This is not attempting to erase or change history. It is stating that we will not honor slavers and those who were traitors.
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Argument opposed

States have a right to place any two statues of their choosing in the U.S. Capitol building. Southern states should be allowed to place statues of these important contributors to their histories in the Capitol.

Steven's Opinion
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08/12/2018
Stop erasing history and our nations past. Even if we don’t like it, it’s still OUR history.
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James's Opinion
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08/12/2018
No! Quit trying to erase American History! Robert E Lees was the president of the first all black college after the War Between the States! Many of the south’s leaders were Senators and Congressman in the United States Congress before the war! Many black men volunteers to fight in the Confederate Army as well but your history books and school teachers won’t tell you that either! I’m from the upper Midwest in Wisconsin to be exact and as I served in the Army I had a lot of good friends from the south black and white alike! Some of those guys has Confederate Battle Flags hung on their walls in there rooms in the barracks and it never caused any problems! For decades as soon as you crossed the Mason Dixon line there it was! Bam! In your face! My parents let me buy one at a Stucky’s on our way to Florida to be exact! They sold them everywhere and flew them everywhere and nobody complained. All of a sudden all you crying lefties want everything about the South and our American history gone! Get a damned life will you!
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Jennifer 's Opinion
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08/12/2018
Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. Leave the statues. But if a local citizenry votes on removal, okay. But we certainly don’t want to do it by mob rule! ‪But that is exactly what is happening now. Violent mobs, tearing down statues in the middle of the night. As a woman, men have aggrieved me; generations of women in my family have been assaulted. I’ve held the hand of hundreds of women who were brutalized by men, and heard stories of their mothers and grandmothers having suffered horrible cruelties at the hands of men. Should I have the power to rip down any statute of a man because of this? George Bernard Shaw was a eugenicist, and the same can be said of many suffragettes. Disability advocates should demand their books and writings be purged from all of our libraries. But, then where does this all end? It is Orwellian in nature. And when Orwell said, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others,” it strikes at the very heart of what is occurring now. Because an elite mentality and mob rule has now determined what is appropriate and acceptable for everyone else. And this my friends, is why I will always fight for the first amendment, uninhibited. ‬What I am for is a plaque in some form added to the monuments that cite what a terrible period in our history those times were, and just how far we’ve come as a nation to overcome bigotry in all its ugly forms. Otherwise, we should all consider deconstructing the pyramids, built by Jewish slaves, and all monuments idolizing men, including MLK, since he was against gay marriage, and clearly a homophobe! Is this really what we want? I sure don’t.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3701?

This bill — known as the Confederate Monument Removal Act – would prohibit statues of people who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from being displayed in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The Architect of the Capitol would be responsible for identifying all offending statues in National Statuary Hall. Following the approval of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, the Architect would be responsible for arranging for these statutes’ removal from the Capitol within 120 days.

States may replace these statues in accordance with the requirements and procedures of the Revised Statutes and the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2001. They may also reclaim Confederate statues that are currently part of the National Statuary Hall Collection if they pay a shipping fee. Statues that are not reclaimed by states would be turned over to the Smithsonian.

Impact

Southern states; Confederate statues; U.S. Capitol building; National Statuary Hall; Architect of the Capitol; and the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3701

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable. However, the bill text allocates $2 million to the Architect of the Capitol and the $3 million to the Smithsonian for the removal and care of Confederate statues that would have to be removed from National Statuary Hall under this legislation, for a total of $5 million.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced this bill to remove statues of people who voluntary served the Confederate State of America from National Statuary Hall within 120 days:

“Across the country, Confederate statues and monuments pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces. These hateful symbols should have no place in our society and they certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol. Though we’ve made tremendous progress as a nation in our quest for social, racial and economic justice, we cannot ignore or forget that Confederates fought fervently to preserve the institution of slavery and keep African Americans in chains. It’s past time for Congress to reject these symbols of racism and demand that our public monuments respect and uplift human dignity.”

This legislation is supported by CREDO Action, a progressive social change organization. The L.A. Times Editorial Board, writing in support of this legislation, argues:

“That visitors from other countries, and children from our own, can find in such an exalted place [as the U.S. Capitol] monuments to the president, vice president and commanding general of the would-be Confederate States of America is more than simply embarrassing. It's a subtle but significant repudiation of what America stands for… People who actively sought to disunite the United States shouldn't be feted with a statue in the very chambers of the government they rebelled against… These are battles over symbols, but symbols matter. When statues and memorials represent, to many, the exaltation of racism and slavery, they have no place in our public spaces.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has indicated that congressional Republicans will not intervene to remove Confederate statues without the consent of affected states. Rep. Ryan’s spokesman, Doug Andres, commenting for the Speaker, calls individual states’ decisions to select Confederate icons for their statues “decisions for those states to make.

President Donald Trump, who opposes the removal of Confederate statues, argues that removing them is an attempt to change history and culture:

“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me — are we going to take down — are we going to take down statues to George Washington? What about Thomas Jefferson?... You're changing history, you're changing culture.”

There are 48 cosponsors of this bill, all of whom are Democrats.

Lawmakers have previously attempted to remove Confederate iconography from the Capitol. In 2015, lawmakers spoke out about Confederate symbols’ roles in celebrating white supremacy after a white supremacist, Dylann Roof, killed nine African-Americans at a prayer meeting in a Charleston, South Carolina church.

At that time, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told the New York Times that the removal of Confederate statues was something that Congress “should consider,” and that “should be done in a deliberate fashion.”

The week after the Charleston shooting, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) brought a measure to the floor calling for the removal of state flags featuring the Confederacy’s “Southern Cross” from areas displaying flags in the Capitol. That measure was defeated in a vote almost completely along party lines.


Of NoteThe National Statuary Hall Collection was established in 1864 to celebrate “illustrious” individuals who served or sacrificed for the United States, allowing states to select statues of two deceased individuals to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Lee and Sen. Cory Booker argue that serving or sacrificing for the United States excludes Confederate soldiers, since they took up arms against the United States.

There are currently 12 Confederate leaders, including Gen. Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis, in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The statues in the Capitol represent some of the most prominent members of the Confederacy, including: Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy; Col. James Zachariah George, who took part in the Mississippi Secession Convention; Alexander Hamilton Stephens, who served as the Vice President of the Confederacy and gave a speech in that capacity in which he claimed that the Confederacy was found “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition;” Robert E. Lee, one of the most famous Confederate commanders; and Zebulon Vance, who served as a Confederate officer before becoming governor and then U.S. Senator for North Carolina.

Activists around the country have been protesting Confederate memorials by attempting to advance measures that’d remove them and in some cases tearing them down. In the aftermath of the Charlottesville attack in which a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd, killing a counter-protester at a rally organized by those who wanted to preserve these statues, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrats called for the statues’ immediate removal from the Capitol.

Most Americans disagree with the conclusion that Confederate statues are symbols of racism. An Economist and YouGov survey in August 2017 found that respondents overwhelmingly believed that Confederate monuments are symbols of Southern pride, rather than of white supremacy.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: mrgarethm via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Confederate Monument Removal Act

Official Title

To remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the Capitol of the United States.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedSeptember 7th, 2017
    They possibly could remain, if there is added, in Bold Letters, “TRAITOR” at base of each statue. Otherwise, we could include a statue of Adolf Hitler. After all, he too, ‘contributed to our History’-albeit, not favorably! Remove these statues to the Smithsonian-basement level niche. Then replace them with a State’s memorable person who contributed to the advancement of American/United States ideals.
    Like (223)
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    Stop erasing history and our nations past. Even if we don’t like it, it’s still OUR history.
    Like (175)
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    Why honor traitors in the very capital building they sought to destroy?
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    These statues should be removed. They not only represent those who practiced and supported slavery, but they represent those who rose up, as traitors, against the Constitution. This is not attempting to erase or change history. It is stating that we will not honor slavers and those who were traitors.
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    History is not being erased. These statues belong in a museum, not in the U.S. Capitol. Symbols of racism and slavery do not belong in government buildings.
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    A public monument is not a piece of history, but exists to honor someone or something. Furthermore, whatever we honor, we endorse. Thus any monument to the Confederacy is an endorsement of those things for which it stood. The Confederate States of America stood for two basic principles, as laid out in its own constitution of 1861. First, it stood for a disunion of the United States. Second, it stood for an official establishment of slavery based on race. This is a matter of historical fact. Simply stated, the Confederacy was a treasonous and racist institution. Therefore, any statue or monument honoring the Confederacy endorses treason and racism. And the people who defend those monuments should think carefully about which flag they want to support — the stars and bars or the stars and stripes. You couldn’t have it both ways then, and still can’t.
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    I TOTALLY get that I don’t get the Black perspective on this issue, that I can’t really get it. But I strongly feel that 1) if we erase the bad parts of our history there will be very little history left; and 2) that if we erase our bad history we are all the more likely to repeat it.
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    No! Quit trying to erase American History! Robert E Lees was the president of the first all black college after the War Between the States! Many of the south’s leaders were Senators and Congressman in the United States Congress before the war! Many black men volunteers to fight in the Confederate Army as well but your history books and school teachers won’t tell you that either! I’m from the upper Midwest in Wisconsin to be exact and as I served in the Army I had a lot of good friends from the south black and white alike! Some of those guys has Confederate Battle Flags hung on their walls in there rooms in the barracks and it never caused any problems! For decades as soon as you crossed the Mason Dixon line there it was! Bam! In your face! My parents let me buy one at a Stucky’s on our way to Florida to be exact! They sold them everywhere and flew them everywhere and nobody complained. All of a sudden all you crying lefties want everything about the South and our American history gone! Get a damned life will you!
    Like (37)
    Follow
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    Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. Leave the statues. But if a local citizenry votes on removal, okay. But we certainly don’t want to do it by mob rule! ‪But that is exactly what is happening now. Violent mobs, tearing down statues in the middle of the night. As a woman, men have aggrieved me; generations of women in my family have been assaulted. I’ve held the hand of hundreds of women who were brutalized by men, and heard stories of their mothers and grandmothers having suffered horrible cruelties at the hands of men. Should I have the power to rip down any statute of a man because of this? George Bernard Shaw was a eugenicist, and the same can be said of many suffragettes. Disability advocates should demand their books and writings be purged from all of our libraries. But, then where does this all end? It is Orwellian in nature. And when Orwell said, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others,” it strikes at the very heart of what is occurring now. Because an elite mentality and mob rule has now determined what is appropriate and acceptable for everyone else. And this my friends, is why I will always fight for the first amendment, uninhibited. ‬What I am for is a plaque in some form added to the monuments that cite what a terrible period in our history those times were, and just how far we’ve come as a nation to overcome bigotry in all its ugly forms. Otherwise, we should all consider deconstructing the pyramids, built by Jewish slaves, and all monuments idolizing men, including MLK, since he was against gay marriage, and clearly a homophobe! Is this really what we want? I sure don’t.
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    We do not have statues of Bin Ladin in New York or Japanese fighter pilots at Pearl Harbor or of King George in Independence Hall. We do not need statues of other groups that have tried to destroy the United States either.
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    Maybe we should focus on teaching history instead of trying to erase it!
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    Confederate symbolism being present in our nation, especially in our Capitol, reinforces racism and keeps us from moving forward. Send a message that the hateful, inhumane practices the past are unacceptable.
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    No way should they be removed...... they are a part of of our heritage, good or bad, and should remain.... States have a right to place any two statues of their choosing in the U.S. Capitol building. Southern states should be allowed to place statues of these important contributors to their histories in the Capitol.
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    Only the Nazi’s, fascists and ISIS remove historical artifacts trying to erase it. The civilized worked realizes history is vital to survival no matter how dark the history is so it is not repeated.
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    Jesus Christ, NO! If people would just read History instead of getting all their info from Mass Media, they’d know the whole Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery. There were many issues involved. You may not like the History, but that doesn’t eliminate the facts. Tearing down the statue of Confederate Soldiers doesn’t Change History. Not teaching people about history dooms then to repeat it. Wake Up & Smell The indoctrination.
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    While the presence of statues of Confederate leaders in the United States Capital does acknowledge the Civil War, it also represents and provides a focal point for continuing racism and division in our country. It also emphasizes the deepening divide, the reassertion of hate and white supremacy, and the use of violence and intimidation that is escalating in this country. It is not about southern pride unless that pride is rooted in racism, bigotry and exclusion. It is not about states rights as statues don’t defend those rights in the courts. The presence of the statues in the Capital is about division, racism, suppression, and hate. The Civil War is long over, it’s time to remove these vestiges of it.
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    The point is not to erase history, but to remove these parts of our history from public spaces and put them into museums where they belong. The capital building is not a museum. It is not a commemoration to our history but a living building where government happens. The government does not represent the ideals that some of those people depicted represent, therfore they should be relocated to a location where their legacy can be viewed in context.
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    Monuments are never about history itself but rather about what the people putting up the monument think about history. Giving undeserved honor to the evil is at least as grave an error as denying proper recognition to those who merit it. The myth that the Civil War was not about slavery is pure 1930’s historical revisionism. Since the 1950s most professional historians have come to agree with Lincoln’s assertion that slavery “was the cause of the war.” Outside the universities, however, Lost Cause denial is still popular, especially among Southern heritage groups that insist the Confederate flag stands not for slavery but for a legacy of courage and honor in defense of principle. Defenders of the Lost Cause need only read the speeches and letters of the secession commissioners to learn what was really driving the Deep South to the brink of war in 1860–61. Make no mistake. It was slavery. In Apostles of Disunion, which quotes and analyzes this rhetoric, the author Charles Dew produced an eye-opening study of the men appointed by seceding states as commissioners to visit other slave states—for example, Virginia and Kentucky—in order to persuade them also to leave the Union and join together to form the Confederacy. Those who do read the excerpts from speeches and letters quoted by Dew will find plenty of confirmation for this conclusion. “The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death,” a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. “The South cannot exist without African slavery.” The Mississippi convention’s “Declaration of Immediate Causes” of that state’s secession formed the basis for their commissioners’ message to other Southern states: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” With Lincoln’s election,” there was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the union…. We must either submit to degradation and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede….” Mississippi’s commissioner to Maryland insisted that “slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity.” If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his Republican cohorts, “the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone.” And so on ad nauseam. The secession conventions and the commissioners grossly exaggerated the Republican threat to slavery in 1861. Lincoln had been elected on a platform of merely containing slavery’s future expansion. Republicans would not have a majority in Congress if the South stayed in the Union. But perhaps the commissioners deemed such exaggeration necessary to scare timid Southerners into support for disunion. That was surely true of their even more egregious distortion of the Republicans’ position on race. A Mississippi commissioner told Georgians that Republicans intended not only to abolish slavery but also to “substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.” Unless white Southerners wanted “submission to negro equality…secession is inevitable.” Georgia’s commissioner to Virginia dutifully assured his listeners that if Southern states stayed in the Union, “we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything.” An Alabamian born in Kentucky tried to persuade his native state to secede by portraying Lincoln’s election as “nothing less than an open declaration of war” by Yankee fanatics who intended to force the “sons and daughters” of the South to associate “with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality,” thus “consigning her [the South’s] citizens to assassinations and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.” So much for states’ rights as the engine of secession. In American history, states’ rights have been mostly a means, not an end, a tool rather than a principle—a truth demonstrated many times over. Republicans supposedly in favor of states’ rights pressed their case in federal courts while Democrats looked to state courts. So how did Lee feel about Confederate statues? Perhaps it’s best to refer to his own writing on the matter. Here, in a letter declining an invitation to attend an event memorializing the battle at Gettysburg, he writes about the importance of moving on. “I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.” Pretty clear isn’t it? So long as the South has an admiration for the traitors rebellion, so long will the wounds of the past persistently bleed. True patriotic devotion should redeem any portion of the Republic from reproach. It should bury forever every memorial calculated to perpetuate dishonor and disparagement.
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    Our history cannot be erased. As we do in our lives, we should learn from our successes and mistakes.
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    History is history. Why are people so afraid of it?
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