« In the last few weeks, New Yorkers have called on all of us in elected office to make bold change so that communities of color feel heard, protected and represented. The City Council is committed to creating true reforms to policies and policing that hurt Black New Yorkers.
But that is not enough. There are disturbing images of divisiveness and racism in our City that need to be revisited immediately. That starts with City Hall.
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. It must be removed.
Jefferson is America’s most noted slave holder, a man who owned more than 600 Black women and men and a scholar who maintained that Blacks were inferior to whites ».
La demande avait été fait en juin dernier dans un courrier adressé à Bill de Blasio, maire de New York et cosignée par le speaker Corey Johnson et quatre membres du Conseil municipal de la ville (Consulter la lettre). Elle a été votée par le conseil municipal à l’unanimité cette semaine. La décision ne prendra effet que lorsqu’aura été décidé l’endroit où la statue pourra être placée.
La boite de Pandore est donc ouverte. D’autres présidents vont-ils suivre dans cette révision de l’histoire des Etats-Unis, George Washington, le Père de la nation, James Madison ? (cf tableau ci-dessous). 12 présidents américains ont possédé des esclaves à un moment de leur vie ; parmi eux, 8 possédaient des esclaves pendant leur mandat. 10 des 12 premiers présidents américains étaient des propriétaires d’esclaves, les seules exceptions étant John Adams et son fils John Quincy Adams, dont aucun n’approuvait l’esclavage. Premier président des Etats-Unis, George Washington a été le premier à posséder des esclaves, y compris lorsqu’il était président. Zachary Taylor était le dernier à posséder des esclaves pendant sa présidence, et Ulysses S. Grant était le dernier président à avoir possédé un esclave à un moment donné de sa vie.
Ce n’est pas première fois que la question se pose mais la culture de l’effacement semble s’étendre aux grands personnages de l’histoire américaine. Il va devenir de plus en plus difficile d’écrire les livres d’histoire.
Un des lecteurs du quotidien newyorkais s’interroge :
« So while you fanatics are removing the statures of European explorers (Columbus) and now Thomas Jefferson, one of our founders and the principle author of our Declaration of Independance please let us know what you will do the images and statues of one of your beloved: Martin Luther King, a great man who also had great human weaknesses. Like those great men who came before, King was not without flaws and among his most noted was his penchant for womanizing. By engaging in philandering he despoiled all women from all time and, like his predecessors his actions have tainted the noble cause he sacrificed his life for. If we are to purge all those imperfect heroes from the past then surely his statue must be removed from the public sphere ».
« Early childhood education
Vaccines for everyone
A living wage for your constituents
Illegal gun purchases
Rebuilding critical infrastructure …
Take down a statue of Thomas Jefferson?
That’s your priority?
Se demande un autre lecteur.
Deux catégories d’arguments, le premier du type « qui après Thomas Jefferson ? », le second « les élus newyorkais (élus en général) n’ont-ils pas d’autres sujets plus importants à traiter.
A ces deux derniers qui sont totalement recevables, s’en ajoute un troisième qui est, elle, d’une autre nature qui viserait à amalgamer Thomas Jefferson et Robert E. Lee. Mais là, la comparaison ne tient pas car comme l’explique l’article Robert E Lee Doesn’t Deserve a Statue, But Thomas Jefferson Does publié par The Bulwark. Certes Robert E. Lee tient une place centrale dans l’histoire des Etats-Unis mais du point de vue de son pays, c’est un traitre dont l’ambition a été de détruire l’Union. Aujourd’hui, on juge les plus souvent les faits historiques avec les lunettes de notre époque. C’est le cas Thomas Jefferson. Mais, selon les normes de sa propre époque, Robet E. Lee ne méritait pas de statue même si les Etats du Sud ont pensé le contraire.
Pour mémoire, au-delà des fonctions importantes qu’il a eu pour son pays, Thomas Jefferson a rédigé la déclaration d’infépendance, le Statute of Vorginia for Religious Freedom qui garantissait la liberté religieuse à tous les habitants de la Virgine et le fondateur de l’Université de Virginie.
A l’inverse, selon les normes actuelles, Donald Trump ne mérite pas de statue mais ne devrait pas non plus être élu. Mais c’est là une autre histoire.
|President||Approximate number of slaves held||While in Office||Commentaires|
|Washington was a major slaveholder before, during, and after his presidency. His will freed his slaves pending the death of his widow, though she freed them within a year of her husband’s death. As President, Washington oversaw the implementation of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, which banned slavery north of the Ohio river. This was the first major restriction on the domestic expansion of slavery by the federal government in US history. See George Washington and slavery for more details.|
|Most historians believe Jefferson fathered multiple slave children with the enslaved woman Sally Hemings, the likely half-sister of his late wife Martha Wayles Skelton. Despite being a lifelong slave owner, Jefferson routinely condemned the institution of slavery, attempted to restrict its expansion, and advocated gradual emancipation. As President, he oversaw the abolition of the international slave trade. See Thomas Jefferson and slavery for more details.|
|Madison occasionally condemned the institution of slavery and opposed the international slave trade, but he also vehemently opposed any attempts to restrict its domestic expansion. Madison did not free his slaves during his lifetime or in his will. Paul Jennings, one of Madison’s slaves, served him during his presidency and later published the first memoir of life in the White House.|
|Like Thomas Jefferson, Monroe condemned the institution of slavery as evil and advocated its gradual end, but still owned many slaves throughout his entire adult life, freeing only one of them in his final days. As President, he oversaw the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri to the Union as a slave state in exchange for admitting Maine as a free state and banning slavery above the parallel 36°30′ north. Monroe supported sending freed slaves to the new country of Liberia; its capital, Monrovia, is named after him. See James Monroe for more details.|
|Jackson owned many slaves. One controversy during his presidency was his reaction to anti-slavery tracts. During his campaign for the presidency, he faced criticism for being a slave trader. He did not free his slaves in his will.|
|Martin Van Buren||1||No
|Van Buren’s father owned six slaves. The only slave he personally owned, Tom, escaped in 1814. When Tom was found in Massachusetts, Van Buren tentatively agreed to sell him to the finder, but terms were not agreed and Tom remained free. Later in life, Van Buren belonged to the Free Soil Party, which opposed the expansion of slavery into the Western territories without advocating immediate abolition.|
|William Henry Harrison||11||No
|Harrison inherited several slaves. As the first governor of the Indiana Territory, he unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to legalize slavery in Indiana.|
|Tyler never freed any of his slaves and consistently supported the slaveholder’s rights and the expansion of slavery during his time in political office.|
|James K. Polk||56||Yes
|Polk became the Democratic nominee for president in 1844 partially because of his tolerance of slavery, in contrast to Van Buren. As president, he generally supported the rights of slave owners. His will provided for the freeing of his slaves after the death of his wife, though the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended up freeing them long before her death in 1891.|
|Although Taylor owned slaves throughout his life, he generally resisted attempts to expand slavery in the territories. After his death, there were rumors that slavery advocates had poisoned him; tests of his body over 100 years later have been inconclusive. Taylor did not free any of his slaves in his will.|
|Johnson owned a few slaves and was supportive of James K. Polk’s slavery policies. As military governor of Tennessee, he convinced Abraham Lincoln to exempt that area from the Emancipation Proclamation. Johnson went on to free all his personal slaves on August 8, 1863. On October 24, 1864, Johnson officially freed all slaves in Tennessee.|
|Although he later served as a general in the Union Army, his wife Julia had control of four slaves during the American Civil War, given to her by her father. It is unclear if she actually was granted legal ownership of them or merely temporary custody. All would be freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 (she chose to free them at that time even though the proclamation did not apply to her state of Missouri). Grant personally owned one slave, William Jones, given to him by his father-in-law and manumitted by Grant on March 29, 1859.|
(Source : Wikipedia)
 Le conseil municipal est composé de 51 membres, 49 démocrates et 2 républicains, représentant les 5 borroughs de la ville.