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Removal of John C. Calhoun, Confederate statues at Capitol pass House with little backing from SC reps

Only two South Carolina representatives voted in favor of removing Confederate statues from the Capitol.

WASHINGTON — A bill that aims to remove Confederate statues from the United States Capitol passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday in the House of Representatives--but did so without much support from South Carolina.

All of the state's representatives except for District 6 Rep. Jim Clyburn (D) and District 1 Rep. Nancy Mace (R) opposed the bill - which, would include the removal of one of South Carolina's most well-known historical figures - John C. Calhoun.

Calhoun was a former vice president of the United States as well as a secretary of war, secretary of state, and senator during his storied political career. However, he was also a strong proponent of slavery, a fact that became a major point of his legacy in American history.

Calhoun's views on this were at least part of Rep. Clyburn's reasoning for wanting the statues removed. He said that Calhoun's statue wasn't sent by his state because of his defense of states' rights as he died some years before the American Civil War.

"So why is he here? Why did South Carolina send his statue up here for us to honor?" Rep. Clyburn said before the House on Tuesday. "Simply because he was this nation's foremost proponent of slavery."

He also pointed to how Calhoun's name has already been struck by other well-known institutions because of these beliefs.

"Yale University from which he graduated took his name off the college that they celebrated him with," he said. "Princeton University...took his name off of its honors college."

He then highlighted that Calhoun's statue had been removed in South Carolina as well, specifically Charleston, South Carolina last summer.

He concluded that the statues, including Calhoun's, should be "relegated to the dust bin of history."

Reps. Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Tom Rice, William Timmons, and Joe Wilson, who all voted against the bill, have not yet issued statements on their official platforms or social media.

According to the Associated Press, House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he would vote for the bill, but also said that “all the statues being removed by this bill are statues of Democrats." On the other hand, many opponents of this and other bills regarding the removal of Confederate memorials, statues, and pictures have described the acts as an attempt to erase history.

Despite being opposed by five other South Carolina representatives, the bill ultimately passed the House by a vote of 285 to 120 with 26 representatives not voting. In all, 218 Democrats voted in favor of the bill with none opposing. Two did not vote.

Meanwhile, the Republican party split on the bill, with 67 voting in favor and 120 voting against it. Another 24 didn't vote on the issue.

The bill now heads to the Senate where proponents hope it will pass this time around. A previous iteration passed the house in 2020 but failed in a Republican-controlled Senate.

The shift in power - in both the Senate and the White House could potentially mean the bill has improved odds on the second go-around. If it does pass, the statue of Calhoun will head back to South Carolina where the state will be allowed to send another in its place.


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