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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Introduces Bill to Remove Statue of Confederate General Pike from Judiciary Square

Jul 30, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to remove a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike from federal land near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia.  The statue was authorized by Congress in 1898, was donated to the federal government by the Freemasons, and was installed in 1901.

In her introductory statement, Norton said, “This statue was authorized not by the District, but by Congress in 1898, when the District had no home rule.  The statue was constructed using both federal and private funds.  The Freemasons, of which Pike was a member, donated the majority of the money needed to build and install the statue in 1901.  I oppose tearing down Confederate statues, because I believe they should be moved to more appropriate settings, like museums, to avoid erasing an important part of history from which Americans must continue to learn.”

Norton full introductory statement is below

Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

On the Introduction of a Bill to Remove the Statue of Confederate General Albert Pike

July 30, 2019

Madam Speaker.

I rise to introduce a bill to require the removal of a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike from federal land near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia.  This statue was authorized, not by the District, but by Congress in 1898, when the District had no home rule.  The statue was constructed using both federal and private funds.  The Freemasons, of which Pike was a member, donated the majority of the money needed to build and install the statue in 1901.  I oppose tearing down Confederate statues, because I believe they should be moved to more appropriate settings, like museums, to avoid erasing an important part of history from which Americans must continue to learn. 

Pike was a Confederate general who served dishonorably and was forced to resign in disgrace.  It was found that soldiers under his command mutilated the bodies of Union soldiers, and Pike was ultimately imprisoned after his fellow officers reported that he misappropriated funds.  Adding to the dishonor of taking up arms against the United States, Pike dishonored even his Confederate military service.  He certainly has no claim to be memorialized in the nation’s capital.  Even those who do not want Confederate statues removed will have to justify awarding Pike any honor, considering his history. 

After meeting with the Freemasons, I believe that the best course of action is to remove the statue and find a more appropriate place for it.  The Freemasons themselves support the statue’s removal, given its divisive nature.  The D.C. Mayor and the Council also support the removal of the statue.

My bill clarifies that no federal funds may be used to remove the Pike statue.  I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.

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