Maryland congressmen introduce bill to remove Lee statue from Antietam


By DANIELLE E. GAINES | The Frederick News-Post, Md. | Published: September 16, 2017

FREDERICK, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Three Maryland congressmen have filed a bill to have the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee removed from Antietam National Battlefield.

Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-4th) introduced the bill this week to coincide with the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. John Delaney (D-6th) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th), who represent Frederick County.

The Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act requires the secretary of the interior to develop a plan for the statue’s removal within 90 days of enactment of the legislation, along with a publicly available report detailing the plan and a timeline for removal.

“Public land should not be home to symbols of hate and bigotry that memorialize leaders of the pro-slavery, traitorous Confederate South,” Brown said in a press release. “Statues and monuments ought to celebrate the brave individuals who have fought and died for our country and true American values. The statue of Lee commemorates a man that owned and beat African Americans, and fought to preserve the institution of slavery. The statue is historically inaccurate and offensive, and I am looking forward to its timely removal.”

In a press release about the bill, the lawmakers say the 24-foot statue of Lee is historically inaccurate because it depicts the general on horseback; at the time of the Battle of Antietam, Lee traveled to Sharpsburg in an ambulance due to a broken wrist. A plaque on the statue states that Lee was “personally against secession and slavery,” but the lawmakers say his actions show otherwise.

“Antietam is a national treasure and a place that every American should visit,” Delaney said in a statement. “Park visitors and taxpayers deserve a battlefield site that actually gives an accurate representation of the battle.”

Delaney’s statement said monuments that glorify the Confederacy don’t belong on federal land and should be taken down unless they serve a clear educational purpose. He noted that the Lee statue at Antietam was dedicated in 2003 “out of pro-Confederacy enthusiasm” by a private landowner who later sold the property — statue included — to the National Park Service.

Raskin also said the statue should come down.

“It was erected for aggressively political and polemical reasons on what was once private land but has since become public land,” Raskin said. “To decide to keep it up now would be to glorify and lionize a Confederate general who took up arms against the Union in violent defense of slavery and the Confederate secession.”

The Battle of Antietam was fought on Sept. 17, 1862, and was the single bloodiest day in American military history.

©2017 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.)
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