Thomas Jefferson Statue Removed From New York City Hall After 187 Years

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After 187 years, a statue of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, no longer sits in New York City Hall.

The statue, which is a plaster replica of the original, according to the city, was removed from its pedestal Monday. The process took several hours, and the 7-foot statue was transported in a wooden crate to the New-York Historical Society, where it will be on a long-term loan.

Several cities have made moves to remove controversial statues tied to Confederate symbols and leaders connected to slavery.

On Monday, November 22, the 884-pound statue of the Founding Father was taken down and placed in a wooden create after a mayoral commission voted to remove the monument from City Hall.

After several hours and the work of a dozen employees at Marshall Fine Arts, the statue was removed from the City Council chambers in New York.

It had been on display since 1833, however, its presence provoked fierce debate due to the former president's connection with the slave trade.

The media had initially been prohibited from witnessing the statue's removal by Keri Butler, the executive director of the Public Design Commission, despite his having voted for it to be removed.

Eventually, though, the City Council and members of the mayor's office revoked the decision.
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Initially, a public hearing to discuss the vote for the monument's removal was not set up. However, after a report by New York Post revealed the commission's plan to vote without one, a hearing was later organized.

"Removing a monument without a public conversation about why it’s happening is useless. New Yorkers all need to talk about who we want to honor and why," said Erin Thompson, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who penned the upcoming book Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments.

Thompson also speculated that the removal of the Jefferson statue might help Americans "learn" more about the president, who took office between 1801 and 1809.

"Moving this statue doesn’t mean New Yorkers will forget who Thomas Jefferson was — but some of them might learn from the controversy that the man who wrote ‘all men are created equal’ owned over 600 of his fellow humans," he said.

The removal of the statue sparked division between members of the City Council. Minority leader Joe Borelli referred to it as an attempt to "side-line history".

Whereas Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus co-chair I. Daneek Miller said the statue was at odds with modern values.

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