House speaker: Remove ‘incorrect’ Confederate plaque from Capitol


Highlights

Slavery did not cause the Civil War, and the South did not rebel against the Union, the plaque states.

House Speaker Joe Straus said Texans “should expect to see an accurate depiction of history” at the Capitol.

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, asked the State Preservation Board, of which he is a member, to remove a plaque in the Capitol that honors the Confederacy and distorts the history of the Civil War.

The plaque, titled “Children of the Confederacy Creed” and erected in 1959 by the Texas division of the Children of the Confederacy, honors “the heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Army.” It states: “We, therefore, pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals, to honor our veterans, to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is that the war between the States was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery) and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors.”

“This is not accurate, and Texans are not well-served by incorrect information about our history,” Straus said in a letter Tuesday to the board. “Those of us who serve on the State Preservation Board should direct staff to identify the steps necessary to remove this plaque as soon as practicable. Texans should expect to see an accurate depiction of history when they visit their state Capitol.”

RELATED: Harvey sidelines debate on Capitol’s Confederate plaque

The other members of the agency’s governing board are Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth. Abbott, Patrick and Kolkhorst did not respond to questions about where they stand on the issue. Geren declined to comment.

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, first called for the plaque’s removal. He said he had planned to meet with Abbott on the issue but that Hurricane Harvey sidelined the discussion and the meeting hadn’t been rescheduled.

“We still have work to do, obviously, but this is a very positive step in the right direction,” Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “Once again, Speaker Straus has demonstrated the kind of principled leadership for which he is now known.”

Many symbols at the Capitol have ties to the Confederacy: three monuments — Hood’s Texas Brigade Monument, Terry’s Texas Rangers Monument and one honoring Confederate soldiers — on the Capitol grounds, the flag of the Confederate States of America displayed outside the building and on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda and several portraits depicting officials who represented the Confederacy.

INTERACTIVE: Confederate symbols in Austin

Straus previously called for all symbols on the Capitol grounds to be reviewed for historical accuracy.

“We have an obligation to all the people we serve to ensure that our history is described correctly, especially when it comes to a subject as painful as slavery,” Straus added in his letter.

Eva B. Long, president of the Texas division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy but speaking as a “concerned Texan” and not for the organization, told the Statesman last month that she hopes the plaque stays, calling it an important piece of Texas history. The Children of the Confederacy group is an organization under the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Abbott, the preservation board’s chairman, said in mid-August that removing monuments won’t change history.

“If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Instead of trying to bury our past, we must learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said in a statement. “Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.”



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