Florida looking for recommendations to replace Confederate general statue
Two months after Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature agreed to remove a Confederate Army general's statue from the U.S. Capitol Building, the hunt for a replacement is officially on.
The Florida Department of State announced on Wednesday it has created an online survey to begin accepting names of Floridians who could replace the statue of General Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall. From not until June 10, the state will take names and then submit them to a committee tasked with trimming the list to 3 people. The Legislature would then decide whose statue will be made to replace Smith.
Since 1922, Smith has been one of two figures meant to represent Florida in National Statuary Hall, a regular stop for tours of Washington, D.C. by school groups and tourists.
But earlier this spring the Legislature passed a bill to remove Smith's statue. Bill sponsors argued that because he spent most of his life living outside of Florida the state should have someone more representative of Florida's past. Smith, who was born in St. Augustine, left Florida at a young age in the 1830s before Florida was even a state. Smith lived much of his adult life in Tennessee and was one of the last major commanding officers in the Confederate Army to surrender during the Civil War. Smith, a Lieutenant General fighting in Texas, did not surrender until June 2, 1865 in Galveston – nearly two months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army in Virginia.
Bill sponsors, Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, insisted that they are not removing Smith because he was a Confederate general as critics have contended. They both said Florida needs someone who better represents Florida. Henry Flagler, Walt Disney and Marjory Stoneman Douglas are among the names offered during debates as potential replacements.
The state is recommending people pick only figures who have been citizens of Florida and those who have been dead for at least 10 years.
"No recommendations of fictional characters, animals, plants, structures, or other non-human entities or beings will be considered by the committee," the Department of State warns people before submitting the survey.
Those who would rather mail proposals can submit them to:
Division of Historical Resources
ATTN: National Statuary Hall
3rd Floor, R.A. Gray Building
500 S. Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250