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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton to Meet with National Park Service Leadership to Discuss Removal of Statue of Confederate General Pike on Federal Land

Aug 18, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that she plans to meet with Michael Reynolds, the Acting Director of the National Park Service (NPS), when Congress returns from recess in September to discuss the statue of Confederate General Albert Pike that now stands on federal land near Judiciary Square.  Norton has also asked congressional leaders to establish a special committee to work with states to take advantage of a 2000 law that allows states to replace their statues that are in the Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol.  However, the Pike statue is installed on federal property under the jurisdiction of NPS and was not contributed by any state like the statues that are now in Statuary Hall.  All 50 states have a statue in Statuary Hall, as does the District of Columbia, whose Frederick Douglass statue was chosen by District residents and installed in the Capitol in 2013 after Norton’s bill authorizing the Douglass statue was approved by Congress.  However, because the Pike statue was a gift of the Freemasons (Pike was a member), and because the District of Columbia had no home rule at the time of the statue’s installation in 1901, the removal of the statue is a purely federal matter.

“In addition to his abhorrent pro-slavery views, General Pike was a confederate general forced to resign in disgrace,” Norton said.  “Pike served dishonorably—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 whatsoever 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 personal disgrace, much less with the blessing of a Congressional law.  I look forward to meeting with the head of NPS to discuss an approach to the Pike statue’s removal.”

After Pike’s imprisonment, he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.  Although born in Massachusetts, Pike settled in Arkansas before joining the Confederate army.  He lived in D.C. after being pardoned until his death in 1891. 

Generally, Norton opposes simply tearing down Confederate statues but believes 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, she does not believe that Pike’s statue should be placed on federal land or on D.C. land.  Norton said perhaps Arkansas has an appropriate spot where Pike’s statue could be preserved for educational purposes.

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