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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam acts to remove Robert E. Lee statue from US Capitol


The Democrat is seeking to have the statue of the 'cruel slave owner' replaced

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D)/(Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has taken the first step in having the statue of Virginian and Confederate General Robert E. Lee removed from the United States Capitol building, after two Democratic lawmakers urged him to have the statue of the "cruel slave owner" replaced with a memorial to someone "who would better represent" the Commonwealth.

What are the details?

The Hill reported that Northam "filed a drafting request for legislation that would outline a process to remove the statue on Monday, Dec. 23, in addition to choosing a replacement for the confederate leader." A spokeswoman for the governor's office confirmed the move.

Northam took the action after his fellow Virginia Democrats U.S. Reps. Jennifer Wexton and A. Donald McEachin wrote the governor a letter urging him to make the replacement of the Lee statue a part of his legislative agenda for the new session that begins next month.

"The statue of Lee, which depicts him in his Confederate uniform, was donated by the Commonwealth during the period from 1900 to the 1930s when dozens of Confederate monuments were erected across the country," Wexton and McEachin wrote. "These statues aimed to rewrite Lee's reputation from that of a cruel slave owner and Confederate General to portraying him as a kind man and reluctant war hero who selflessly served his home state of Virginia."

The lawmakers listed a number of noteworthy Virginians whom they suggested "would better represent our Commonwealth in the U.S. Capitol than a Confederate General."

Wexton and McEachin noted that "The National Statuary Hall Collection consists of two statues donated by each state, with 100 statues total in the collection, that honor notable persons in a state's history."

In addition to Lee, the other statue representing Virginia is of George Washington, who also owned slaves.

Anything else?

Fox News reported that "other states have removed Confederate statues in the Capitol," pointing out that Florida replaced a statue honoring Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith with civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune in 2008.

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