Adm. David Porter, the commander of the Union fleet on the James River, recalled in his memoir that this moment made the president deeply uncomfortable. “Don’t kneel to me,” Lincoln told the man. “That is not right. You must kneel to God only and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.”
Eleven days later, Lincoln was assassinated.
Eleven years after that, on the anniversary of that tragedy, a statue was unveiled in Washington to honor Lincoln. The statue depicts him holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation as an unshackled black man in a loincloth kneels at his feet. Much of the money for this project was donated by freed slaves. This is why it is known as the Freedmen’s Memorial.
Now, seven score and four years later, some people want to get rid of the statue. The activists who have been gathering almost every night in Washington’s Lincoln Park, a few blocks from the Capitol, for more than a week say the depiction diminishes the agency of black people in securing their own liberation. Some even say it promotes white supremacy. A few local leaders have called for the monument to go into a museum.
Boston’s arts commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to remove an exact replica of the statue that was installed in a park just off Boston Common in 1879.
The demands to take down a monument to Lincoln, of all people, have outraged those who believe that mobs pulling down memorials of other abolitionists and Ulysses S. Grant, the commanding general who helped Lincoln save the union, have gone too far. President Trump has spoken in defense of the Lincoln Park statue. The National Park Service has surrounded it with fencing to protect against vandalism, and law enforcement officers from various agencies are present at all hours to make sure the memorial is not toppled.
Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is among those arguing for the bronze monument to stay, a group that also includes several of the nation’s preeminent historians. “It’s not just a statue of a man being subservient to Lincoln,” Jackson said. “We can’t tear down everything. You can’t, on the one hand, celebrate Juneteenth ... and then tear down the statue that marks the event. How much sense does that make?”
The son of a civil rights leader who was with Martin Luther King Jr. when he was assassinated said he is all for replacing statues of Confederate generals. The anger of protesters is “legitimate,” he said, but it should not be directed at the Emancipation Memorial, another name for the monument. “Some of this is emotion that is broadly misplaced,” he told my colleague Michael Miller. “Our ancestors came to this location to honor Mr. Lincoln. We still should.”
While the $20,000 needed for construction was provided by freed black people, the committee that decided how it would look was exclusively white. An early proposal by sculptor Harriet Hosmer depicted a black Union soldier and Lincoln in a sarcophagus. The final design was by sculptor Thomas Ball.
James Yeatman, the chairman of the St. Louis-based sanitary commission that collected the donations, said during his speech at the unveiling that Ball reviewed photographs of an escaped slave named Archer Alexander, and that he adjusted his design from a kneeling slave, “represented as perfectly passive,” to an emancipated slave, who was still kneeling but acting more as an “agent in his own deliverance.”
Kirk Savage, a professor of architectural history at the University of Pittsburgh, recounted the long paternalistic process of erecting the statue at length in a 1997 book called “Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America.”
“Ball’s emancipated man is the very archetype of slavery: he is stripped, literally and figuratively, bereft of personal agency, social position, and accoutrements of culture,” Savage wrote. “Ball’s work hardly lived up to the great ambitions of the sponsors or to the even greater rhetoric of Reconstruction. Most disastrously, perhaps, the monument failed to speak to the experience of those who actually paid for it and made it possible. None of these failures was foreordained, however; no one in 1866 could have predicted that Ball’s design would emerge triumphant from the profusion of schemes circulating at the time.”
Historian C.R. Gibbs, the author of “Black, Copper & Bright: The District of Columbia’s Black Civil War Regiment,” believes the kneeling slave in the monument was most likely inspired by an old abolitionist image used to fight for freedom for enslaved black people. “It was probable that the white sculptor was influenced by the poster with the words, ‘Am I Not a Man and Brother’ over a kneeling slave,” Gibbs told DeNeen Brown.
Marcia Cole, 71, a historical reenactor who dresses up as Charlotte Scott, the freed slave who chipped in the first $5 contribution for the construction of the statue, has been coming the statue recently to make the case for keeping it there. She sees a liberated figure. “He's not kneeling on two knees,” Cole told NPR. “He's rising. You look at his hands. … He’s pushing off. He's not shackled to anyone. He's holding the broken chains of slavery in his hands.”
More than 25,000 people attended the 1876 unveiling ceremony, during which Frederick Douglass delivered his most famous speech, chastising Lincoln for being too ambivalent about ending slavery early in the war before ending up in the right place.
Yale historian David Blight opened his 888-page biography of Douglass, “Prophet of Freedom,” with the moment. “The event was a first,” Blight wrote in the book, which won a Pulitzer Prize last year. “Black people had never before been represented on a national monument. … No African American had ever faced this kind of captive audience, of all the leadership of the federal government in one place; and no such speaker would ever again until Barack Obama was inaugurated president in January 2009.”
(Blight wrote an opinion column last week arguing against tearing down the statue, even though it “uses racist imagery.”)
One of Douglass’s great-great-great-grandsons, Kenneth B. Morris Jr., is calling for the memorial to stay in place. “I don’t put this statue in the same category as Confederate monuments that were put up in the early 19th century as badges of servitude [and] badges of white supremacy,” he told the local Fox affiliate.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, wants to move the statue to a museum. “Although formerly enslaved Americans paid for this statue to be built in 1876, the design and sculpting process was done without their input, and it shows,” she said in a statement. “The statue fails to note in any way how enslaved African Americans pushed for their own emancipation.”
More developments in the monument wars:
Joe Biden drew a distinction between monuments to Confederate leaders and statues of slave-owning former presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, saying during a news conference that the former should go to museums while the latter should be protected. (Annie Linskey)
The Department of Homeland Security is sending “rapid deployment teams” to Portland, Seattle and the District to protect statues during the July 4 weekend, according to Fox News, with additional teams dispatched regionally so that they can be flown into any other area within a few hours should unrest spark up. This is in addition to hundreds of Federal Protective Service officers who will be protecting government facilities.
Trump reaffirmed in a midnight tweet that he would veto the $740 billion annual defense bill if an amendment is included that would require the Pentagon to change the names of bases named for Confederate military leaders. (Timothy Bella)
Crews began removing the statue of Christopher Columbus from in front of city hall in Columbus, Ohio. The mayor’s office said the statue, which has been there since 1955, will be moved into a secure city facility for safekeeping. The city is named for the explorer who crossed the ocean blue in 1492. (Columbus Dispatch)
A restaurant owner who ignored coronavirus restrictions toppled a GOP congressman in Colorado.
Lauren Boebert won an upset in Tuesday’s primary over Rep. Scott Tipton, a member of the tea party class of 2010 who had Trump’s endorsement. “Boebert, who also has flirted with the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory, will be favored in the November election against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former Democratic state legislator who ran against Tipton in 2018 and won the party’s nomination handily on Tuesday. Trump won the district by 12 percentage points in 2016,” David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz report. “Boebert, a gun rights activist, owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., where the staff carries their weapons as they serve customers, who can order a ‘Guac 9’ burger or a ‘Turkey Ham Uzi Melt.’
“Boebert is among a handful of Republican candidates who have toyed with the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory that a secret government official named ‘Q’ is revealing a corrupt ‘deep state’ that Trump is fighting against to save the country. … ‘Everything I’ve heard of Q — I hope this is real,’ Boebert told the QAnon-aligned Web interview show ‘Steel Truth’ last month. … More recently, she defied the state’s coronavirus restrictions and refused to close her restaurant to dine-in patrons, forcing county officials to obtain a cease-and-desist letter from a district judge to shut her down.”
The other members of Congress who have lost primaries this year are Reps. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), Steve King (R-Iowa) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.). New York Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney are still waiting for mail-in ballots to be counted to know their fates. Both are in contests that remain too close for the Associated Press to call, even eight days after the primary. Former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman declared victory, but Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has not conceded. Bowman had endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders.
- Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper won the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R). Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the presidential race last year to run for Senate, is widely seen as among the party’s best shots at picking up a seat in the chamber. But he was badly bruised by the primary and faced criticism over his handling of an ethics complaint. (John Wagner and Itkowitz)
- Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot, captured the Democratic nomination in Kentucky for a long-shot bid against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). McGrath held off a late surge from Charles Booker, a black state legislator who tapped into the movement for racial justice and won the endorsement of several high-profile liberals. (Wagner)
Tony Fauci fears the U.S. could soon reach 100,000 new daily cases.
That would be more than twice as many cases as the record so far and three times more than the original peak this spring. Roughly 2.6 million infections have been reported in the U.S. “Fauci gave his bleak assessment in response to questions during his latest appearance on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the state of the pandemic as new infections are rampant across much of the South and West, with hospitalizations escalating in a dozen states," Amy Goldstein reports. "Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged the ability to trace the contacts of people infected by the coronavirus has been hampered by outdated public health data systems.”
New U.S. infections have topped 40,000 in four of the past five days, as shaken states pull back from reopening.
“Fauci said half of all new cases are being recorded in just four states. Three of them — Arizona, Texas and Florida — are led by Republican governors who moved quickly, after being urged by Trump, to reopen their economies but have since begun closing bars and beaches,” Anne Gearan, Scott Wilson and Annie Gowen report. “In Florida, where cases have spiked, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who last week ordered people in the city to wear masks in public amid a spike in cases, said a statewide policy should be a ‘no-brainer.’ [But Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses.] In the fourth state with a big increase in coronavirus cases, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has taken a more cautious approach, imposing the country’s first statewide stay-at-home order on March 19. But now nearly 3 in 4 Californians live in counties that have been ordered to reverse their economic reopening, have been recommended to do so or face additional state regulations unless infections flatten out.”
- Arizona hit a new high for hospitalizations, and Vice President Pence will visit the state today to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and state health officials. He canceled planned campaign events because of the surge in cases. (Arizona Republic)
- In Delaware, Gov. John Carney (D) will indefinitely close state beaches on July 3 following outbreaks in some beach towns. (CBS Baltimore)
- In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis (D) closed bars and nightclubs again as cases spike. (Denver Post)
- Virginia ordered bars to remain closed as it prepares to enter Phase 3 of reopening. The state will allow groups of up to 250 to gather and will reopen pools and gyms. Meanwhile, D.C. and Maryland will remain in Phase 2. (Antonio Olivo, Patricia Sullivan and Rebecca Tan)
- Ninety-five residents of a California housing facility for migrant farmworkers tested positive. The infected residents represent nearly half the population of the Villa Las Brisas complex in Oxnard, where many of the nation’s strawberries are grown. (Antonia Farzan)
- Minor League Baseball canceled its 2020 season. (Dave Sheinin)
Most Republican leaders now say everyone should wear a mask – even if Trump still refuses to do so.
Following McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said doing so is essential to reopening the economy. Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy, two of Trump’s most loyal boosters, also joined the chorus. “MAGA should now stand for ‘masks are great again,'" Doocy said as he interviewed RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department said a federal initiative to provide Americans with free face masks ran out of them. And Politico reports that the White House is divided over how much to discuss the pandemic and whether to ignore the catastrophe. (Philip Rucker and Seung Min Kim)
Quote of the day
“We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said during Fauci's appearance before the Senate health committee.
George Floyd protests probably didn’t lead to coronavirus spikes. But it’s hard to tell.
“Some public health officials and disease trackers say there appears to be scant evidence the protests sparked widespread outbreaks. Others say that because many states reopened about the same time as the protests, and because of the limits of contact tracing, they simply can’t say for sure,” Chelsea Janes reports. “Absent a few positive tests among protesters announced here and there, the only major outbreak tied to protests happened in South Carolina, where organizers postponed demonstrations or moved them online after at least 13 people who took part in previous protests tested positive. … Meanwhile, data from other cities suggests protests have not been followed by an increase in cases of covid-19 … Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed and where the protests began, has registered a steady decrease in case numbers this month.”
The FDA will require that any vaccine must prevent covid-19 in at least 50 percent of recipients.
“The agency also said it would require drug companies to monitor the vaccine’s performance after approval for any emerging safety problems,” Laurie McGinley reports. “The standards apply to full approvals. But the agency didn’t rule out temporary approvals, called emergency use authorizations, which typically are based on less stringent requirements. … For comparison purposes with the FDA’s goal for a coronavirus vaccine, the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine ranges from 40 to 60 percent when the vaccine is similar to circulating flu viruses.”
- The U.S. bought up the world’s stock of remdesivir. No other country will be able to buy the drug for at least the next three months. (Guardian)
- Oklahoma voters narrowly passed a ballot measure to expand Medicaid to cover tens of thousands of low-income residents, making the Sooner State the first to expand government-backed health insurance during the pandemic. (Oklahoman)
With reopenings on hold, workers are getting laid off for a second time.
“Millions of American workers are suffering from economic whiplash, thinking they were finally returning to work only to be sent home again because of the coronavirus’s latest surge. Stores, restaurants, gyms and other businesses that reopened weeks ago are shuttering once more,” Eli Rosenberg and Abha Bhattarai report. “This time, many [workers] say they’re on even shakier financial ground as they topple into yet another period without a job."
- Pay cuts for millions of American workers are also worsening the crisis. Pay and hours have been cut in nearly every sector, but white-collar industries such as finance, tech and law have seen things turn south more rapidly. (Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam)
- The Senate reached a deal to extend the Paycheck Protection Program hours before it was set to expire. The last-minute agreement extends the loan program for small businesses through Aug. 8. “Prospects for the legislation in the House, however, were uncertain. Both chambers are set to adjourn for a two-week recess by week’s end," Jonathan O’Connell, Erica Werner and Aaron Gregg report.
- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the economy’s path remains “extraordinarily uncertain.” At the same hearing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the administration would support direct financial aid for the hotel industry in the next stimulus package. (Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein)
- Yet stocks closed out their best quarter since 1998, clawing back most first quarter losses. (Thomas Heath and Hamza Shaban)
More on the Trump presidency
Intelligence reports on Russia’s bounty operation first reached the White House in early 2019.
“Several discussions were held with members of the National Security Council staff on the reports, which had been flagged as potentially significant and came at a time of growing tensions between Russia and the United States. Instructions were given to the intelligence community and the U.S. Central Command, one person familiar with the briefings said, to ‘find out more’ about the bounty reports before proposing any action be taken,” Karen DeYoung, Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian report. “But in February of this year, after discoveries of questionable militant cash flows and the interrogation of prisoners in Afghanistan, information again made its way to the NSC. In late March, after a restricted, high-level meeting at the White House, the CIA was tasked with assessing it. CIA analysts determined that the information was credible and showed a Russian plot to target U.S. and coalition forces …
“One former official said that there was a significant amount of intelligence and that it left little doubt among those examining it that Russia was targeting American forces. The National Security Agency, which examines intercepted communications, took a more skeptical view of the 2020 information and the credibility of the underlying sources … But some said the disagreements between the NSA and the CIA have been overstated by Trump administration officials.”
Intelligence provided by captured Afghan militants suggested the bounty operation was in existence as far back as 2018: “Analysts believe that the bounties probably resulted in the deaths of three Marines killed in April 2019 when the vehicle they were traveling in was blown up just outside Bagram, the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan … While numerous intelligence and former government officials have said that such reports would normally have reached the highest levels of government, including the president, McEnany said Trump is briefed only ‘when there is a strategic decision to be made.’ … But several people familiar with the matter noted that information is sometimes withheld from Trump, who often reacts badly to reports that he thinks might undermine what he considers his good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Trump's people withheld key intelligence from congressional Republicans when they briefed them. “American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan,” the Times reports. “Investigators also identified by name numerous Afghans in a network linked to the suspected Russian operation … The disclosures further undercut White House officials’ claim that the intelligence was too uncertain to brief Trump."
News of the Russian bounties are further straining Trump’s bond with veterans. “I don’t think he cares about troops at all,” Shawn LeMond, a Navy veteran who served in the Middle East and then became a Republican state legislator in North Carolina, told the AP. “If he didn’t know about Russia, it’s because he didn’t do his damn homework. And that’s despicable.”
A search for Biden tapes in Ukraine by close Trump allies has amplified fears of foreign interference.
“The previously undisclosed hunt for tapes of Biden and other recordings in Ukraine, described by several people who were involved, came as the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was casting a wide net for material to undermine Trump’s political rival — a scheme that ultimately helped set in motion the president’s impeachment. ‘We would have loved to get the recordings, but we never did,’ Giuliani said in a recent interview. Now, with just five months to go before Election Day, that material is surfacing in Ukraine and being touted by some of the president’s backers in the United States, including his eldest son last month,” Paul Sonne, Rosalind Helderman, Josh Dawsey and David Stern report. “Last week, a Ukrainian lawmaker who was once affiliated with a pro-Russian political party and has met with Giuliani released 10 edited snippets of what appeared to be Biden’s official vice presidential phone calls with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016…
“The recordings show that Biden, as he has previously said publicly, linked loan guarantees for Ukraine to the ouster of the country’s prosecutor general. The tapes do not provide evidence to back Giuliani’s long-standing accusation that Biden sought to have him fired to block an investigation of a gas company that had hired his son Hunter. The authenticity of the audio files, which appear heavily edited, could not be verified. The Ukrainian government is investigating how they were obtained. Biden’s campaign has said they are part of an effort to concoct conspiracy theories to smear him. Poroshenko has gone further and called them fake. … On their own, the audio snippets that have been released do not significantly change what was already known about Biden’s diplomacy toward Ukraine … But the efforts to promote the recordings in Ukraine and the United States … suggest a new push by foreign forces to sway American voters in the run-up to the 2020 election, one welcomed by the president’s personal lawyer.”
- Even before Hong Kong residents knew the full details of Beijing’s new national security law, thousands took down their Twitter accounts as political parties disbanded and restaurants and cafes removed posters showing their support for the democratic movement. The details of the law published shortly before midnight are more draconian than many predicted, effectively ending the city’s long-cherished freedom of speech and putting residents under the threat of life imprisonment if they criticize Beijing’s government. (Shibani Mahtani and Eva Dou)
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found little support for extending an arms embargo against Iran among members of the U.N.’s Security Council. China, Russia and even European allies resisted his proposal, which he argued would stop Iran from becoming a “rogue weapons dealer.” Russia’s U.N. ambassador called the strategy “a maximum suffocation policy.” (Carol Morello)
Kushner is making changes to the reelection campaign’s top ranks following the Tulsa donnybrook.
“Michael Glassner, among the original hires on the Trump campaign in 2015, will be moved from the role of chief operating officer of the 2020 re-election effort. In his place will be Jeff DeWit, who held that role in 2016 and is an ally of Mr. Kushner’s,” the Times reports. “Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, insisted that the move was ‘not a reaction to Tulsa.’ … But two people familiar with the move described it as part of the aftermath of the Tulsa event, and as an effort to find a head to roll over it. Some White House officials had pointed the finger at Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale.”
- A dozen donors gave $480,000 to cover Pence's legal fees during Bob Mueller's inquiry. (Michelle Ye Hee Lee)
- Just 17 percent of Americans say they feel proud when they think of the state of the country. That includes 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, and 10 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners, according to a new Pew poll. Only 12 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going. The same poll shows Trump trailing Biden by 10 points.
The racial reckoning
Amid protests, Belgium’s King Philippe expressed regret for the colonization of Congo.
“It was the first time a Belgian monarch has edged toward an apology for the colonial rule of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence from Belgium on Tuesday. A Black Lives Matter protest that drew 10,000 people to the center of Brussels in early June has helped spark a broader accounting in Belgium over race and colonization, with the country’s Parliament resolving to appoint a truth and reconciliation commission to examine the past,” Michael Birnbaum reports.
Minneapolis had progressive policies, but it still left black families behind.
“Taxes, for decades, have been redistributed from wealthy suburbs to poorer communities to combat inequality — an effort bolstered in recent years by raising state income taxes on the rich. The result: more money for schools, affordable housing and social services in lower-income neighborhoods. But the prosperity fueled by the region’s Fortune 500 companies and progressive policies has not translated into economic equality. Instead, the wealth gap between Minneapolis’s largely white population and the city’s black residents has deepened, producing some of the nation’s widest racial disparities in income, employment and homeownership,” Tracy Jan reports. “Economists, lawyers and civil rights advocates in the Twin Cities say progressive tax policies could not make up for other aspects of structural racism, such as access to credit or jobs.”
After George Floyd’s killing, a mother asks: What about my daughter?
“In West Chester, Pa., one of the early efforts to move forward came recently at a rally dubbed the ‘March for Peace, Justice and Humanity.’ At least 5,000 people gathered. For more than eight minutes, the mostly white crowd knelt in silence … As time passed, tears rolled down several cheeks. Michelle Roberson, 57, felt anger building in her chest as she prepared to speak,” Jenna Johnson reports. “‘Where was this crowd June 28, 2017?’ she said, uttering words she hadn’t planned to say until just then. ‘I will ask it again: Where was this crowd on June 28, 2017?’ That was the day her black, 18-year-old daughter, Bianca Nikol Roberson, was shot dead while driving by a 28-year-old white man in another vehicle."
Social media speed read
Ian Desmond, in a powerful Instagram post, explained why he's opting out of the 2020 MLB season. The former Nationals star, who now plays for Colorado, was set to make $5.5 million from the Rockies this season:
The old Mississippi state flag was taken down inside the Capitol:
A remarkable statistic from the Cook Political Report:
Videos of the day
Here's a reminder that there are still some good things happening: Rehan Staton, 24, was accepted to Harvard Law School after working as a sanitation worker in Bladensburg, Md.:
“In March, after the coronavirus forced her school to close, she overheard her mom and dad … talking about the shortage of personal protective equipment at a hospital. ‘I think I can make a mask,’ Michaela offered, and after her mom helped find a pattern online, she got to work. She hasn’t stopped. … Michaela’s hairless cat, Minerva, provides quality control and can often be found perched on top of Michaela’s sewing machine while she works,” Scott Allen reports. “As the number of reported coronavirus cases in Michigan approached 70,000 last week, Michaela received a much-anticipated package in the mail. The new sewing machine she ordered more than a month ago using birthday money … finally arrived, allowing her to retire the temperamental old model that [her mom] received from her own grandmother as a teenager. She has already put it to good use. ‘It’s way, way quieter and easier to thread,’ Michaela said.”
It sounds trite, but it's true: There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.