Statue honoring Revolutionary War hero removed after nearly a century

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A statue dedicated to Revolutionary War hero Gen. Philip Schuyler that has stood over Albany’s city hall for nearly a century was removed on Saturday morning. The statue was removed because Schuyler owned slaves.

A moving crew hoisted the 9-foot-tall statue from its pedestal and loaded it onto a trailer around 8 a.m. on Saturday. The pedestal and a plaque were also removed from the site in New York state’s capitol. The removal of Schuyler’s statue took about three hours and reportedly cost the city $40,000.

The Gen. Philip Schuyler statue will be temporarily housed inside an undisclosed storage facility until a permanent location is determined. The city council will launch a monuments commission to decide where the statue will be relocated to.

The statue, which was originally erected in 1925, was removed because Schuyler was one of Albany’s largest slave owners.

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The decision to remove the statue was first announced in the summer of 2020, which was a response to the death of George Floyd and the subsequent riots that ravaged U.S. cities. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, ordered the removal of the statue in June 2020. However, the removal was reportedly held up because an engineering study took years.

Sheehan said, “All of that took time, it took longer than I wanted it to.”

Mary Liz Stewart, the co-founder of the Underground Railroad Education Center, told WRGB, “I was glad action had been taken, I know it was pre-COVID when the issue of what to do, as we say ‘what to do with Phil’ actually started to percolate in the community. It was an outgrowth of what was going on in other cities around the country.”

Dr. Alice Green of the Center for Law and Justice said, “The statue is a continuing reminder that we were enslaved. It’s painful to have that reminder every time I go down to city hall or drive past it.”

Albany county legislator Jeff Perlee argued, “This isn’t to say that Schuyler was a perfect historical figure. He owned slaves, as was the unfortunate reality of the time for many – including President Washington. It was unquestionably wrong. But nobody is calling for Washington Avenue or Washington Park in Albany to be renamed.”

Schuyler served as a major general of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was also a U.S. Senator representing New York. Schuyler was the father-in-law of Alexander Hamilton.

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