NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ‘waged war’ on the nation’s history by deciding to banish the statue of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson from City Hall – where it has presided over events for 187 years – after a request from his wife-led BLM committee.
De Blasio, whose term ends at the end of the year, made the decision after the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation led by his wife, Chirlane McCray, decided the statue should be removed because Jefferson had owned slaves.
Republican politicians quickly railed against the latest move to rewrite history by booting the statue of the former president who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
‘The de Blasio administration will continue the progressive war on history as he, himself, fades away into a portrait on a City Hall wall,’ Councilman Joe Borelli told the New York Post.
‘I hope he is at least gone a couple hundred years before someone cancels him.’
The decision to remove the statue came after a suggestion from De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray as the former President was revealed to have owned over 600 slaves
Bill De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray had suggested the removal of the statue in June 2020 following the BLM movement and death of George Floyd
The statue had resided in the City Hall’s Council chambers since 1834 after it was gifted by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and an admirer of Jefferson’s.
The decision to remove the statue will come without any public debate after the city’s Public Design Commission, which is comprised of mayoral appointees, listed it as a ‘long term loan’ to the New-York Historical Society on its ‘consent’ agenda for Monday.
The 11-member design commission will vote on de Blasio’s decision to ship out Jefferson after reviewing public comments, a City Hall spokesman told the Post.
‘The city would still own the plaster model, and the historical society would include it in educational exhibits and provide valuable historical context,’ the spokesman said.
The statue has resided in City Hall since 1834 and was given as a gift by naval officer Uriah Phillips Levy
Councilman I. Daneek Miller, a Democrat, defended exiling the statue and said the loan is ‘indefinite.’
‘There’s so much about Thomas Jefferson and his own personal writings, memoirs about how he treated his slaves, his family members and things of that nature and how he perceived African Americans and slaves — that they lacked intelligence, that they were not to assimilate into society,’ Miller told The Post.
‘For us to really highlight such an individual is really not who we are as a council.’
Miller added that the statue is expected to be removed from City Hall by October 21.
In a comment to DailyMail.com, the New York Historical Society said they have not made official arrangements for the statue as of yet.
‘We are in ongoing discussions about the statue. While there are no specific plans for display at the moment, New-York Historical might in future years present an exhibition that may include it.’
McCray, the head of the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, had made the decision to remove the statue following a meeting in June 2020.
The RRC was organized to ‘promote social learning, collective introspection, and policy action’ as well as create a historical record of racial discrimination, with an emphasis on housing, criminal justice, environmental racism and public health’ in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death.
DailyMail.com reached out to De Blasio’s press office for comment.
De Blasio had previously written a letter to City Hall following his wife’s suggestion.
A replica of the statue will continue to be featured in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC
‘The statue of Thomas Jefferson in the City Council Chambers is inappropriate and serves as a constant reminder of the injustices that have plagued communities of color since the inception of our country,’ he wrote.
‘Jefferson is America’s most noted slave holder … and a scholar who maintained that Blacks were inferior to whites.’
The letter dated June 18, 2020 was signed by de Blasio and fellow Council members.
Other statues of Jefferson and fellow historical figures who had an alleged racist pasts were publicly seen being vandalized and taken down during the BLM movement.
The statue of the Founding Father outside of Jefferson High School in Portland on June 14 2020 after it was removed by protesters
A statue of the Founding Father was toppled on June 14, 2020 at Portland High School in Oregon by a group of protesters.
Footage of the vandalism revealed protesters tying a rope around the neck of the statue to bring it down as well as using a hammer to loosen the base of the structure.
The statue was also covered in graffiti reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘George Floyd 8:46’ in reference to the amount of time former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin had knelt on his neck for.
A replica of the statue in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. will continue to be on display.
Jefferson was considered the largest slaveholder during his day with over 600 slaves at this Virginia home.
Who was Thomas Jefferson?
DNA evidence has proved that Jefferson (in a portrait above) fathered at least one child of his slaves Sally Hemings
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13 1743 at the Shadwell plantation outside of Charlottesville in Virginia.
He was the third of 10 children to one of the most prominent families of Virginia’s planter elite.
Throughout Jefferson’s life he was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect and philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president between 1801 and 1809.
In his presidency he stabilised the country’s economy and defeated pirates from North Africa during the Barbary War.
He is also credited for doubling the size of the US by successfully brokering the Louisiana Purchase.
Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation.
Congress formally adopted the Declaration on July 4 1776, now celebrated as Independence Day.
The Declaration famously reads: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’
But despite this, Jefferson is known to have kept more than 600 slaves throughout his life.
He had said slavery was a ‘moral depravity’ and a ‘hideous blot’, yet Jefferson profited directly from it.
Jefferson even wrote in his text Notes on the State of Virginia that he suspected black people were inferior to white people.
He thought that white Americans and enslaved blacks constituted two ‘separate nations’ who could not live together peacefully in the same country.
Through his 1772 marriage to Martha Wayles, Jefferson inherited two plantations and by 1776 was one of the largest planters in Virginia.
Although Jefferson believed slavery was harmful to both slave and master, he expressed reservations over releasing them into freedom with no education or means to support themselves.
He instead advocated for a gradual voluntary training and drafted legislation allowing owners to free slaves.
By 1806 he officially called for anti-slavery legislation banning the import or export of slaves, a law that was passed in 1807.
One of Jefferson’s slaves was the mixed-race Sally Hemings, a half-sister of his wife Martha, who lived on his primary plantation in Monticello.
No known portraits of Sally Hemings exist, but the one above is based on descriptions of her appearance
Jefferson and Sally shared a relationship and DNA evidence proved he fathered at least one of her children, Eston Hemings, though rumours suggest he fathered six children in total.
The pair’s sexual relationship is believed to have started when Hemings was an underage teenager and Jefferson was in his 40s.
She would not have been in a position to give or withhold consent given that Jefferson owned her, with many historians describing his treatment of Sally as rape.
Very little is known of Sally, but one of the few accounts of her by an enslaved blacksmith named Isaac Granger Jefferson described her as ‘mighty near white…very handsome, long straight hair down her back.’
As a child, she was probably a nursemaid to Jefferson’s daughter Maria, as enslaved girls from the age of six or eight were childminders and assistants to head nurses on southern plantations.
Congress formally adopted the Declaration on July 4 1776, now celebrated as Independence Day
Sally served as an attendant to Maria Jefferson, as well as Martha Jefferson, accompanying them on various trips to Paris.
After her return to Virginia in 1789, Sally Hemings remained at Monticello and worked as a household servant.
Sally’s son Madison recalled that one of her duties was ‘to take care of [Jefferson’s] chamber and wardrobe, look after us children, and do light work such as sewing.’
Sally was enslaved in Jefferson’s house along with her surviving children, who Jefferson released as they each came of age.
Sally, however, was forced to remain in the house as a slave until Jefferson’s death on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.