March 28, 2011 by EVE · Comments Off
Published on March 28, 2011, in the Baltimore Sun:
John Hanson’s spot in the U.S. Capitol is secure, while Harriet Tubman’s chances of securing one are spotty, thanks to a vote this evening by the Maryland Senate.
The General Assembly has been weighing whether to swap out Hanson for Tubman in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state can have only two statues, and since 1903, Maryland has been represented by Hanson, a president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.
This session, the National Organization for Women and dozens historical and civil rights groups were trying to gain a place for Tubman, who helped slaves travel to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Although senators are supportive of Tubman, they won’t trade Hanson for her.
In an amendment adopted Friday, senators decided to ask Congress to allow Maryland three statues so that they won’t have to choose. The new plan gained unanimous final passage this evening.
In addition to providing glowing background information for Hanson, Carroll and Tubman, the amendment reads: “Whereas, It would benefit the nation and visitors to the nation’s Capitol to be made aware of Tubman’s contributions if an exception were made and an additional statue for Maryland were permitted in the National Statuary Hall Collection.”
The Senate says other states have three statues, but that’s not true, according to Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol. Although there are other statues in the Capitol, each state can contribute only two historical figures each for the official Statuary Hall collection.
The House of Delegates has yet to vote on the Tubman v. Hanson issue and is waiting for the Senate to send over its bill. Del. Susan Lee, chairwoman of the women’s caucus, said she’ll work even harder next year if Tubman fails to unseat Hanson this session.
The Montgomery County Democrat noted Hanson has “monumental supporters” — including Senate President Thomas. V. Mike Miller, who is bookended by small statues of Hanson and Carroll as he presides over the chamber.