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Congressman Brown Introduces Legislation to Remove Statue of Robert E. Lee on Antietam National Battlefield

September 15, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) introduced H.R. 3779 to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD. The Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan for removal within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation, while submitting a publicly available report to Congress detailing the plan of action and timeline for removal within 120 days.

“Public land should not be home to symbols of hate and bigotry that memorialize leaders of the pro-slavery, traitorous Confederate South,” said Congressman Brown. “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.”

“Antietam is a national treasure and a place that every American should visit,” said Congressman Delaney. “Park visitors and taxpayers deserve a battlefield site that actually gives an accurate representation of the battle. Statues and monuments meant to glorify Confederate leadership don’t belong on federal land and they should be taken down unless they serve the clear purpose of educating people about American History and are placed by historians in their proper context for that purpose. The history of this piece, which now resides on this sacred ground, certainly makes it clear it was recently erected by a private citizen out of pro-Confederacy enthusiasm and not to provide historical context or under the direction of a battlefield historian. I applaud Congressman Brown for this legislation.”

“The statue of Robert E. Lee located on National Park Service land near the Antietam Battlefield should come down,” said Congressman Raskin. “It was erected for aggressively political and polemical reasons on what was once private land but has since become public land. 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.”

Dedicated in 2003, 138 years after the end of the Civil War, the 24-foot statue of Lee was commissioned and placed by a private citizen on private land. The National Park Service (NPS) acquired the property in 2005, making the plot the statue rests on federally owned land. In addition to significant local backlash during the statue’s unofficial commissioning, the monument is also historically in accurate. It claims Lee was “personally against secession and slavery” yet Lee was a brutal slave owner; fought for the Confederacy comprised of states that each explicitly mentioned slavery as the justification for secession; and, the army he led kidnapped free African Americans and massacred surrendering black Union soldiers. Furthermore, the statue depicts General Lee on horseback but it is known that General Lee travelled to Sharpsburg by way of an ambulance due to a broken wrist.

Representatives co-sponsoring the bill include:

Rep. John K. Delaney (MD) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD).