A statue of an 18th-century Revolutionary War general has been removed from the city hall in Albany, N.Y. because the general owned enslaved people.
In an interview with the New York Times that was published on Sunday (June 25), Albany’s Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan admitted her decision to have the statue of Major General Philip Schuyler removed from outside of Romanesque City Hall partly stemmed because of concerns Black members of her staff has raised.
Philip Schuyler was a military commander during the Revolutionary War and also served as a member of the Continental Congress. He later held a public office as a U.S. senator.
In June 2020, Sheehan issued an executive order to take down Schuyler’s statue from city hall because he was the city’s most prolific slave owner during his era. The Mayor added that the statue would be given to a museum or an institution “for future display with appropriate historical context.”
Sheehan highlighted that it was impossible to enter “City Hall without walking past the statue,” telling the Times that its removal had been delayed because of budget problems and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interview with the Times, the Albany mayor highlighted that Schuyler’s slave ownership was well-known in the community, telling the publications that the remains of enslaved people were found on the family’s former property.
However, there was opposition to the statue’s removal from Republican Representative Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), a district representative in Northern New York.
Stefanik has accused Sheehan of erasing history with the statue’s removal.
The statue’s removal was amplified in response to the protests against police brutality following George Floyd’s death in 2020, when there were calls to remove statues, including those of Confederate generals.
The removal of Schuyler’s statue is a part of that initial reckoning.