Add Abraham Lincoln’s name to the list of historical statues that need to come down, or at least be amended, across the United States.
For over 100 years, a Lincoln statue has been a fixture on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It serves as a daily reminder of how the former president pushed for public higher education, according to Chancellor Rebecca Blank. However, some of her students don’t hold the Great Emancipator in such high esteem.
The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) requested a plaque to be installed near the statue that would recognize Lincoln’s “brutality towards indigenous peoples” for his role in the executions of dozens of Sioux prisoners in December 1862. As The Washington Free Beacon explains, over 260 men were charged in military tribunals for murder and rape of white settlers in Minnesota. However, Lincoln commuted the death sentences down to just 38, though some believe innocent Indians were among those hanged. And there in lies the problem, according to ASM Chair Katrina Morrison.
“I think that the history is irrefutable,” she argued. “It is clear that he played a huge role in the massacre and was killing innocent people for no reason.”
Joining the protests against the statue is Mariah Skenandore, a co-president of Wunk Sheek, an indigenous student organization on campus. She claims she is “impacted” by the statue “every day.”
“I think the plaque is the least the university can do,” Skenandore added.
However, Chancellor Blank denied the students’ request and defended the 16th president’s actions:
She noted Lincoln's personal involvement in reviewing the tribunals' decisions, and the president's response to a Republican leader who complained that more executions could have meant stronger electoral math for their party, in which he said, "I could not afford to hang men for votes."
But that explanation will never be good enough. Both groups have promised to continue fighting the university and somehow prove that the mission of UWM is to oppress minority students.