Lawmakers aim to replace Ohioan's statue
The 19th-century Ohioan made racist statements.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- He portrayed blacks as savages and supported the rights of Southern slave owners.
The attitudes of William Allen, a 19th-century congressman from Ohio who later served as governor, reflect poorly on the state, according to some 21st-century lawmakers who want his statue to be removed from the National Statuary Hall, a large semicircular room in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., that honors historic figures from each state.
An Ohio Senate committee unanimously passed a bill last week that would start the process of replacing Allen, who is one of two Ohioans representing the state. Ohio donated Allen's statue to the Capitol's collection in 1887, where it joined that of James Garfield, the nation's 20th president, who was assassinated in 1881.
Gov. Bob Taft strongly supports removing the Allen statue, a spokesman said.
Even by the standards of his time, some of Allen's comments during his lifetime were vitriolic and racist, said Doreen Uhas-Sauer, project director of the Annenberg Civic Education Initiative in the Columbus Public Schools.
"Slavery is not the cause of the war; it is the intermeddling of the northern fanatics with the rights and property of the people of the South," Allen said at a political rally in 1863, about two years after the start of the Civil War.
Months earlier, shortly after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Allen warned a crowd in his hometown of Chillicothe that freed slaves would find their way to Ohio and that "seven or eight hundred thousand negroes with their hands reeking in the blood of murdered women and children would present themselves at our southern borders."
Sen. Jeff Jacobson, a Vandalia Republican who sponsored the committee bill to remove Allen's statue, hasn't said who should represent Ohio instead of Allen, though he would like the search to go beyond politicians.
His bill would set up a committee of six state lawmakers -- four Republicans and two Democrats -- who must recommend a new honoree within a year.
Lawmakers and the governor would have to approve a replacement, which also needs the approval from the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress.
The state would have to pay all costs of removing the Allen statue, as well as the costs of creating and placing a new statue, which must be marble or bronze.