Protesters tore down the statues of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Francis Scott Key Friday in San Francisco.
Grant, who led the Union army into battle against the Confederacy, and Scott Key, who wrote America’s national anthem, are just two of the latest statues to be ripped down by protesters on the Juneteenth holiday that marks the 155th anniversary since a federal order to liberate slaves reached Galveston, Texas, almost two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Even though Grant is widely celebrated as the general who led the Union into the war that brought an end to slavery in the United States, some critics have pointed to his ownership of a slave for about one year as a result of his marriage, despite the future president reportedly working alongside him in the fields and setting him free before the Civil War began. (RELATED: ‘Not Doing Their Job’: Trump Criticizes DC Police As Confederate Statue Gets Toppled Right Outside Their Headquarters)
“Whether or not Grant wasn’t a ‘slavery man’ by inclination, we know he briefly owned William Jones,” Sean Kane, interpretations and programs specialist at The American Civil War Museum, wrote in an article. “He does not mention Jones in his memoirs or other writings, so the exact nature of their relationship remains a mystery.”
Grant filed a manumission document freeing William Jones.
Many on Twitter pushed back against the toppling of Grant’s statue.
Grant did briefly own one slave he freed years before the war; but as a general he smashed the Confederacy, and as president he crushed the Klan. He presided over the ratification of the 15th Amendment. People going after Grant probably just want to break things. https://t.co/rVtPOcvyAN
— Adam Serwer???? (@AdamSerwer) June 20, 2020
He was a “slave owner” in that he was gifted a slave, hated the idea, and freed him within a year. Then won the Civil War, prosecuted the KKK, and appointed African Americans to prominent roles in government.
This might have gotten out of hand. https://t.co/5HdEDgodzm
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) June 20, 2020
Key’s statue in Golden Gate Park was also brought down on Friday.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) June 20, 2020
After witnessing an American flag being hoisted following a victory over the British during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, Key was inspired to write a poem that eventually became the Star-Spangled Banner, also known as America’s national anthem.