Maryland: Harriet Tubman Statue Project


Press conference in Annapolis on February 8, 2011, announcing introduction of Maryland bill to place statue of Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall:  Delegate Susan C. Lee (D-16), President of the Women’s Caucus and lead sponsor of House Bill 455; Senator Catherine Pugh (D-40), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate (SB351) and Chair of the Black Caucus; other legislators; EVE President Lynette Long;  National & Maryland NOW Presidents Terry O\'Neill and Linda Mahoney; MD NAACP’s Elbridge James; and other top leaders of women’s, higher education, faith, African American, Latino, Asian American groups.

Press conference in Annapolis on February 8, 2011, announcing introduction of Maryland bill to place statue of Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall: Delegate Susan C. Lee (D-16), President of the Women’s Caucus and lead sponsor of House Bill 455; Senator Catherine Pugh (D-40), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate (SB351) and Chair of the Black Caucus; other legislators; EVE President Lynette Long; National & Maryland NOW Presidents Terry O'Neill and Linda Mahoney; MD NAACP’s Elbridge James; and other top leaders of women’s, higher education, faith, African American, Latino, Asian American groups.

March 2011 Update: Call these committee members in Maryland!

February 2011 Update: Maryland Bill HB455/SB351 has been introduced into the Maryland legislature.

EVE and Maryland NOW’s Harriet Tubman Statue Project has moved to the legislature! Delegate Susan C. Lee (D-16) is spearheading the introduction of a bill to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall. Delegate Lee, who is the President of the Maryland General Assembly’s Women’s Caucus, is sponsoring HB455 in the General Assembly, while Senator Catherine Pugh (D-40) is the lead sponsor of the corresponding bill (SB351) in the Senate. The bill already has the support of Governor Martin O’Malley, Attorney General Douglas Gansler, the Women’s Caucus (Women Legislators of Maryland), the Maryland NAACP, the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women, and many other organizations.

See the full list of endorsements and sponsors.

The bill proposes replacing the existing statue of John Hanson (see below), who served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” under the Articles of Confederation. His statue would be returned to the state capital in Annapolis to be enjoyed by visitors there.


The poster we created for the project.

The poster we created for the project.

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) was one of the all-time great American heroes. Born a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, she became one of the most daring conductors on the Underground Railroad, personally leading dozens of fugitive slaves to freedom. Cool, resourceful, and enormously brave, she “never lost a passenger.”

EVE’s Maryland Statue Project is committed to putting Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall. She would be the first African-American woman in the Hall, as well as the first enslaved person. Her commemoration would represent a great step forward for our nation, and her statue would stand as a beacon of inspiration for the millions of Americans who visit Statuary Hall each year.

Since each statue in National Statuary Hall is the gift of a state, the Maryland State Legislature must pass a resolution expressing its intention to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in the Hall. The resolution must also identify which of Maryland’s two existing statues is to be replaced (see below), and how funding for the new statue will be obtained.

We are coordinating this project with Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women) and are actively inviting other groups in Maryland and connected to Harriet Tubman to join with us. Please contact our president, Dr. Lynette Long, at president@equalvisibilityeverywhere.org for more information.

About Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, in about 1820. In 1849 she fled north to freedom, where she joined the secret network of free African-Americans and white sympathizers who helped runaways escape—the Underground Railroad. She became a conductor on the Railroad, risking her life time and time again to return to Maryland and lead slaves to freedom. Known as “the Moses of her people,” she was so successful that furious slaveholders put a huge price on her head.

When the Civil War began, Tubman became a Union spy, organizing an espionage network of slaves and freedmen who operated behind Confederate lines. On several occasions she led military raiding parties, and also tended the Union wounded as an army nurse. After the war she devoted herself to women’s suffrage, the care of orphans and invalids, and the establishment of freedmen’s schools in the South.

Replacing one of Maryland’s existing statues

Maryland is represented in Statuary Hall by Charles Carroll (1737-1832) and John Hanson (1715-1783). Both statues are eligible for replacement according to the rules established by Congress in 2000 (which require a statue to have been on display for at least 10 years before being replaced).

carroll225_adj2Charles Carroll was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A wealthy Maryland planter, Carroll was considered the largest slaveholder in the American colonies at the time of the Revolution, owning between 400 and 500 people. He supported the gradual abolition of slavery (though he never freed his own slaves) and the resettlement of former slaves in Africa. From 1828 to 1831 he served as the president of the Maryland branch of the American Colonization Society, which founded Liberia. The statue of Charles Carroll was placed in Statuary Hall in 1903.

hanson225_adjJohn Hanson was a Maryland merchant and delegate to the Continental Congress. From 1781 to 1782 he served as “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” under the Articles of Confederation. This was largely a ceremonial role, and after a one-year term Hanson retired to the country, where he died in 1783. More than a hundred years later, one of his descendants began promoting the idea that Hanson’s role in presiding over Congress meant that he had really been the first “President of the United States.” Modern historians discount the claim, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was very popular in Maryland. It is the probable reason Hanson was chosen in 1903 to be immortalized in Statuary Hall.

Resources and more

Maryland Statue Project Updates

Press Release on Harriet Tubman Statue Bill, with statement from EVE President Lynette Long

March 28, 2011 by EVE   · Comments Off

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Last Thursday a Maryland Senate committee approved an amendment that effectively guts the bill to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in National Statuary Hall.

The original bill (Senate Bill 351) calls for Maryland’s existing statue of John Hanson to be replaced with one of Harriet Tubman. The new amendment almost completely rewrites the bill, asking Congress instead to give Maryland special permission to place three statues, with the Tubman statue as the third addition.

“But we already know the answer to that,” says Suzanne Scoggins of EVE (Equal Visibility Everywhere), which sponsored the original legislation. “The answer is no. Each state is allowed two statues. The rules for Statuary Hall are precise and carefully formulated. There are 100 statues in the collection—two from each state—and the Capitol barely has room for all of them as it is. If you want to change a statue, you bring one home and send the new one in its place. There is absolutely no reason to expect that Congress will make a special exception for Maryland and allow them to have three statues. The supporters of the amendment are calling it a ‘compromise,’ but it’s not a compromise. Maryland isn’t going to be allowed to have three statues, and they know it. The effect of the amendment is to kill the Harriet Tubman statue.”

In an statement, EVE President Lynette Long said:

Maryland had a unique opportunity to replace a slaveholder with a slave, a white man with a Black woman, a colonial figure with a Civil War figure. They have squandered that opportunity. Instead, they’ve chosen to petition Congress for something they know they won’t get, in a transparent attempt to pass the buck to the federal government.

The population of Maryland is 29% African-American and 51% female. Harriet Tubman, an African-American woman from Maryland, was one of the most courageous and inspiring individuals in our nation’s history. She was truly one of the all-time great American heroes, one of a handful of names that every schoolchild in this country knows. It is only right that she should be one of the two individuals representing Maryland in National Statuary Hall. Yet a small group of white male legislators has derailed the entire project.

Leading the opposition is Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., a 68-year-old Democrat who has been a member of the Maryland Senate since 1975. He is joined by two other long-standing Democrats, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton (a member of the Senate since 1995 and a relative of John Hanson) and Senator Roy Dyson, also a member of the Senate since 1995.

These gentlemen apparently believe that Maryland is best represented in Statuary Hall by an all-male, all-white contingent. Rather than honor Harriet Tubman, they prefer to keep the statues of Charles Carroll and John Hanson that have been in place since 1903. Charles Carroll was the largest slaveholder in the American colonies, and John Hanson was a minor figure who served a one-year term presiding over the Continental Congress.

What is especially disturbing is that on February 16, 2011, the Southern Maryland News reported Senator Miller as proposing that “a special category should be established in Statuary Hall for women and blacks who were not considered when states first were invited to contribute statues in 1864.” This smacks of separate but equal. It’s a sexist and racist statement that ignores the fact that women and Blacks have made contributions throughout history that have been ignored.

…continue reading

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Lynette Long featured in March issue of DC Spotlight

March 22, 2011 by Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History   · Comments Off

The March issue of DC Spotlight is online, and the “In the Spotlight” featured person is none other than our own Dr. Lynette Long, president of EVE. Spotlight Editor-in-Chief Wendy Thompson interviewed Lynette at home, and the result is a fascinating article about the inspiration for EVE, our current projects, the background to the Harriet Tubman Statue Project, and more. Go read!

Thanks to DC Spotlight and Ms. Thompson for this wonderful piece. Here’s the video portion of the interview included with the article:

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Maryland Statue Project in the News

Harriet Tubman Headed to the Capitol

April 29, 2012 by Lynette Long, Ph.D., President of EVE   · Comments Off

The Harriet Tubman Statue project in Maryland had a major victory this legislative session. The statue bill passed both houses of the General Assembly and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

After passage in the House of Delegates 133-0, an eleventh hour amendment of the House version allowed by Senate President Mike Miller threw procedural obstacles in the way of passage. With time running out and many bills held up in a power struggle over the budget, sponsor Del. Susan Lee and Chairman Pete Hammen finessed the rules and got the Senate version amended and passed so the bills would be identical and not require a conference committee.

Coalition leader and Maryland NOW president Linda Mahoney expressed her disappointment that some in the legislature are still unwilling to have Harriet Tubman be one of the two official Maryland statues in Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol: “I would have preferred to have the original bill from 2011 passed. However, we looked at the demographics in the legislature and decided that a Harriet Tubman statue in the U.S. Capitol now would be preferable to a possible statue in the Statuary Hall Collection in a decade or two. We want Harriet Tubman to be someone that girls and young women can look up to and realize that gender and ethnicity do not have to be a bar to achievement by individuals who want to improve the lives of the people around them.”

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Push to get Tubman Statue in the U.S. Capitol in Jeopardy

March 30, 2011 by EVE   · Comments Off

Published on March 30, 2011, in the Afro-American Newspapers:

A heavily amended bill to place a statue of Harriet Tubman in the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol was passed unanimously on March 28 by the Maryland Senate. “Maryland had a unique opportunity to replace a slaveholder with a slave, a white man with a Black woman, a colonial figure with a Civil War figure,” said Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE) President Lynette Long in a statement. “They have squandered that opportunity. Instead, they’ve chosen to petition Congress for something they know they won’t get, in a transparent attempt to pass the buck to the federal government.”

The original bill was meant to replace the statue of John Hanson with one of Tubman, as states only get two statues in the crowded hall. The amended bill asks for an exception, allowing Maryland to place a third statue in the hall; an honor not given to any other state thus far. …continue reading

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