Gen. Philip Schuyler was one of the heroes of the American Revolution and Revolutionary War. He also owned slaves, and so Albany just spend about $40,000 tearing down and removing a statue of him.
As background, Gen. Schuyler’s military career began during the French and Indian War. A member of a prosperous New York family, he then entered politics and was elected to the New York General Assembly in 1768. He joined the Revolution with his 1775 election to the Continental Congress and was involved in the Continental Army’s march on Quebec and then the 1777 defense of Saratoga, which was widely regarded as the turning point in the war, though both times he was replaced by other generals before the campaigns. He resigned his commission in the Continental Army in 1779 and, after the war, was involved in the ratification campaign for the Constitution and served as a Federalist in the US Congress and Senate.
Despite his military and political efforts in service to America and her future, Gen. Schuyler’s statue was just removed from its spot outside Albany City Hall, where it stood for nearly a century, because he was a slave owner.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 10, 2023
According to WNYT, a crew arrived at 5:15 to remove the statue and was done tearing it off its base and loading it onto a trailer. The statue is now destined for a storage facility. The pedestal and plaque were removed as well. Calls to remove the statue reached critical mass in 2020, after the death of George Floyd, at which point Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said it would be removed. However, it took a few years for the city to get around to removing it. Watch the removal here:
— Subrina Dhammi (@SubrinaDhammi) June 10, 2023
Albany residents had mixed feelings about the statue’s removal. Some were in support of the removal. For example, WNYT quoted one resident as saying “It feels good. The people have been listened to, and it feels good” and another as saying “I’m just happy it got taken down if the history behind it is not something that should be celebrated.” Apparently the American Revolution is no long history “that should be celebrated.”
Some, however, were both against the removal of the statue and brave enough to speak out about it. WNYT quoted one resident, for example, as saying, “In my personal opinion, I don’t think it should be down because it is a statue, and yes, he did bad things, but there are so many statues of other people that did many worse things. I understand why they did it because slavery was bad. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, obviously, but my point is it’s part of history.”
The removal of the statue of Gen. Schuyler followed the removal of the statues of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt from outside New York City’s City Hall and American Museum of Natural History, respectively. The Jefferson statue was removed because of slavery, as with Gen. Schuyler, and the Roosevelt statue removed because of vague accusations of his glorification of colonialism and racism.
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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