WASHINGTON — D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) reintroduced legislation on Wednesday morning to remove the Andrew Jackson statue from Lafayette Park in D.C.
This bill is the fourth in a series of statue and memorial removal bills Norton has introduced as part of her Black History Month series, according to a statement from Norton's office. She also reintroduced a bill that would permanently remove the statue of Confederate General Albert Pike from Judiciary Square in D.C. and the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park. The bills recommend all statues be moved to museums to encourage learning moments, rather than attempting to erase history.
Norton said the push to remove the Andrew Jackson statue from the federal park is because of evidence of Jackson’s ownership of slaves and genocide against Native Americans. She said that Jackson was a slaveholder and signed a law that forced Native Americans to move west of the Mississippi River. During this forced expulsion by the federal government, roughly 4,000 Cherokees died in what is now known as the Trail of Tears.
“Lafayette Park itself has a painful past as a slave market," Norton said in a statement. "The statue of Andrew Jackson, who himself enslaved African Americans, compounds that insult. This prominent location in the nation’s capital, right outside of the White House, should never have honored a man who owned slaves and was responsible for the deaths of roughly 4,000 Native Americans. Jackson’s entire tenure is a shameful part of our history, and I will see to it that he is no longer honored with a statue in Lafayette Park. I believe this statue should be preserved and placed in a museum, not displayed prominently in the nation’s capital. The next generation can learn from this painful chapter in our history without celebrating it."
The Andrew Jackson statue, which depicts the Battle of New Orleans, was the first statue place in Lafayette Park. Andrew Jackson's statue weighs 15 tons and was commissioned in 1847 by Congress to honor Jackson as a General for his command of U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. The statue was erected in 1853 before the Civil War brought an end to slavery.
An enslaved apprentice from South Carolina named Phillip Reid helped build the statue that sits in Lafayette Square, according to White House records.
While Jackson was a war hero and someone who arguably helped build the United States through the early 19th century, he has a complicated past.
Jackson owned around 150 slaves when he died in 1845, according to The Hermitage. He also reportedly directed the U.S. Postal Service to use their own discretion for letting anti-slavery tracts through the postal system into the South, from the North. This meant that postmasters could choose not to deliver them.
Jackson's presidency was also defined partially by his impact on Native Americans. He was in favor of the relocation of Indian Tribes in the United States and took further steps than his predecessors in doing so.