« Same-sex marriage bill passes first hurdle in Senate | Main | Senate vote on same-sex marriage expected tonight »

February 23, 2011

Statue debate: Tubman, Hanson backers make case

Sen. Catherine Pugh at a hearing today urged her fellow lawmakers to support a proposal to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall Collection.

Each state can have only two representatives, and since 1903, Maryland's have been John Hanson, a president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Pugh's proposal, promoted by the NAACP and National Organization of Women, means that Hanson would have to go. Tubman, an Eastern Shore-born slave who led dozens to freedom on the Underground Railroad, would be the 10th woman and only African American in the collection.

"History changes. Time changes. Everything changes," said Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat. "This country has progressed."

Gov. Martin O'Malley supports the Tubman proposal. A House of Delegates committee also held a hearing today on the matter.

At the Senate hearing, Hanson descendant and scholar Peter Michael called Hanson "the only Marylander to serve in the nation's highest office."

Michael suggested that Maryland "take the lead" by asking Congress to expand the collection to allow more than two statues per state. Some lawmakers on the committee seemed supportive of that idea.

"I don't like the idea that we're going to take a Marylander like John Hanson out," said Roy Dyson, a St. Mary's County Democrat. 

But many of the Tubman supporters said state lawmakers should focus on the parameters Congress has given them. The president of the Maryland NOW chapter said she was offended by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's suggestion that Congress make a separate collection for additional statues. (Miller, a Southern Maryland Democrat, is a Hanson supporter.)

Moonyene Jackson-Amis, an Easton resident, said the issue of whether to trade statues is simple in her mind: "I want to see somebody who looks like me."

(Photo by The Sun's Kim Hairston) 

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:29 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


It does not matter whose image is placed on a statue, it is still nothing more than a place for pigeons to rest and poop. The only important thing is that any statue should be paid for with private donations, not public money.

History changes?? What a twit.

When do these clowns in Annapolis get to something important?
Who cares about statues when there is a 1.6 billion dollar MOM deficit to be plugged?

So, who determined that the Hanson statue should be replaced instead of Carroll, and where would the removed statue go? Who will sculpt the proposed Tubman statue, and who's going to pay for it? The NAACP? Why are our legislators fooling around with this, renaming mountains, and gay marriage instead of addressing our critical fiscal issues?

chcesepic said it perfectly: Pugh is a twit. The sadder thing is that this is proof of Blacks trying to REwrite history to suit themselves - forget what REALLY happened.

Actually this is a incidence of white people rewriting history. John Hanson is the 9th person to serve as President of Congress Assembled. Congress Assembled was more like the EU, with each state being more like a country than how we think of states today. There was no executive branch so the office of President had no power and only lead meetings of Congress Assembled. Hanson was the 3rd to serve under the Articles of Confederation. He was the first to serve under the RATIFIED Articles of Confederation and serve a twelve month term. He was also the first the President of Congress Assembled to present his resignation.

Not to say that John Hanson was not a patriot just that his role was not nearly as important as Carroll. John Hanson's career was puffed up by factions pushing to put that statue in Statuary Hall in the first place.

Carroll and Tubman tell a much better story. Carroll was one of the richest men an America at the time, but because he was a Roman Catholic he could not vote, practice law or hold public office. He risked everything he owned not just to free America but to restore rights to people who belonged to churches other than the Church of England. When the war was over Carroll (who was a large slave owner) introduced the first bill to call for a gradual end to slavery in Maryland, it had no support.

Harriet Tubman was denied the the most basic of freedoms and in her own way did exactly what the the American Colonists did, she took the matter of freedom into her own hands. She never forgot what it was like to be powerless and fought for the rights of others for the rest of her life.

The two together provide an example we should pay attention to. No matter how powerful or powerless you should fight for rights and in doing so you help others and change history.

None of this will erase John Hanson, it's just a better story of who we should be.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):


Headlines from The Baltimore Sun
About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Breaking News newsletter
When a big news event breaks, we'll e-mail you the basics with links to up-to-date details.
Sign up

Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected