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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

Oct 5, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to remove a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike located on federal land near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia.  Last week, Norton met with members of the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, of which Pike was a member, to discuss the statue’s removal.  Norton’s bill makes clear that the Freemasons support the Pike statue’s removal and that no federal funds will be used to remove it.  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, “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.  However, Pike was a Confederate general who served dishonorably and was forced to resign in disgrace…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 have said they ‘will support an action…to remove the statue forthwith so that it shall not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents of our community.’  The Mayor of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Council also support the removal of the statue.”

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

October 5, 2017

Ms. Norton.  Mr. Speaker,

I rise to introduce a bill to require the removal of a statue of Confederate General Albert Pike, which is currently located on federal land near Judiciary Square in the District of Columbia.  This statue was authorized by Congress in 1898, and was paid for by 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.  However, Pike was a Confederate general who served dishonorably and was forced to resign in disgrace.  Soldiers under his command were found to have mutilated the bodies of Union soldiers, and he was ultimately imprisoned after his fellow officers reported that he had been misappropriating 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 according 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 have said they “will support an action…to remove the statue forthwith so that it shall not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents of our community.”  The Mayor of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Council also support the removal of the statue.

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

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