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Charleston votes to remove John C. Calhoun statue from city square

Council members approved the measure 13-0 during a meeting Tuesday.
Credit: AP
A 100-foot monument to former U.S. vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun towers over a downtown square Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. Officials in Charleston voted unanimously Tuesday to remove the statue from a downtown square, the latest in a wave of actions arising from protests against racism and police brutality against African Americans. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

CHARLESTON, S.C. β€” Officials in the historic South Carolina city of Charleston have unanimously voted to remove a statue of former vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun from a downtown square, the latest in a wave of such actions triggered by the death of George Floyd.

Council members approved the measure 13-0 during a meeting Tuesday. The resolution authorizes the removal of the statue that sits atop a 100-foot (30-meter) monument in downtown Marion Square. 

Officials say eventually it will find a permanent new home at β€œan appropriate site where it will be protected and preserved.”

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However, the removal of statues in South Carolina is governed by the Heritage Act, a 2000 bill that passed through the General Assembly. It requires a two-thirds majority of the legislature to remove monuments or to rename buildings. 

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Tuesday that the Heritage Act is the appropriate way to deal with questions about monuments. 

Calhoun served as the seventh vice president of the United States from 1825 to 1832, serving under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson before returning to the US Senate. He was a defender of slavery and of states' rights, and owned slaves at his Upstate home in Fort Hill.  

Clemson University removed Calhoun's name from the honors college earlier this month. Both Clemson and the University of South Carolina have asked the legislature to allow them to rename buildings on their campus under the Heritage Act.

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