KEARNY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey lawmakers want to replace a Civil War statue in the halls of the U.S. Capitol with a women’s suffragist leader.
The suggested statue swap has triggered a debate in the Garden State.
Gen. Philip Kearny died while commanding troops during the Civil War. Alice Paul was instrumental in securing women the right to vote. Which should be honored in Washington?
Each state has two figures representing it at the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.
A bill passed by New Jersey’s Senate would remove Kearny and replace him with Paul. Assemblywoman Carol Murphy is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly. She calls Paul an unsung hero.
“She was one of the very first silent sentinels. She established the women’s suffrage movement here in the United States. She fought very hard for the equal rights for women to vote, for all equal rights for women,” Murphy told CBS2’s Meg Baker.
But leaders in the town of Kearny want the war hero to stay right where he is.
“I just think it’s disrespectful to move him to just put somebody else in,” Kearny Town Council President Caroll Doyle said.
Historian William Styple says the American hero sacrificed his life to ensure the freedoms that all Americans have today.
“During the American Civil War, Kearny volunteered to command the New Jersey brigade. It was a firm belief of his to destroy slavery,” he said.
Murphy suggested bringing the statue of Kearny home, but Kearny already has a statue of Kearny. It’s located in front of the post office off Kearny Avenue. What gives the town pride is his representation in Washington.
Out of 100 statues at the Capitol, only nine are women.
You can visit the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel in her former home in South Jersey.