The U.S. House voted 305-113 Wednesday to remove statues of Confederacy and slavery backers from the U.S. Capitol as well as a bust of Roger B. Taney, the chief justice who wrote the decision denying citizenship to Black people. All the no votes were cast by Republicans.
Republican Reps. Rick Crawford, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack voted against the legislation. Republican Rep. French Hill of Little Rock voted for it.
The vote, if approved in the Senate (a long shot given Republican opposition), would mean the removal of, among others, former Arkansas governor and senator James P. Clarke, an ancestor of Hill’s opponent in the 2018 election, Clarke Tucker. The Arkansas legislature has already voted to remove Clarke’s statue from the hall of statuary (a move Clarke Tucker supported) and replace it and that of Uriah Rose with statues of Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash. A drive to raise money for the project is underway.
Republicans in the Senate have offered as a pretext for opposing removal of tributes to racists that the decision should be left to the states.
Clarke, a Democrat born in 1854, wasn’t a Confederate. But he was devoted to white supremacy. In a closing speech for governor, he said: “The people of the South looked to the Democratic party to preserve the white standards of civilization.”
He had some more appealing political views. The Architect of the Capitol website notes:
Known for his “unqualified independence,” he broke with his party in its opposition to President Theodore Roosevelt’s policy on the Panama Canal. President Roosevelt, in fact, largely attributed the passage of the canal bill to him. Clarke was ardently in favor of Philippine independence. He supported employers’ liability and workmen’s compensation legislation and opposed literacy tests for immigrants.