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Senate Moves to Erase Thomas Jefferson From History and now Joined by House

During the 2017 controversies over Confederate monuments, President Trump sent out a prescient tweet with the following question:  “…who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?” On December 21, 2017, the United States Senate, which operates under rules evolved from A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States by Thomas Jefferson, took action to erase part of Jefferson’s legacy.

The Bi-Partisan Removal of Jefferson’s Name from a National Memorial

The Senate passed a bill to remove Jefferson’s name from The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, and rename it the nondescript, Gateway Arch National Park. During this time full of partisan rancor, strangely enough the act of removing Jefferson clearly had bi-partisan support. The change was sponsored by Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and co-sponsored by Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).

Why the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Was Established

Of course, the memorial in St. Louis was established specifically to commemorate a crucial contribution to the United States growth from Atlantic to Pacific made possible by the Louisiana Purchase. The prime player in the Louisiana Purchase?  Thomas Jefferson!!!

The Louisiana Purchase was likely the greatest land deal in all of human history. The United States acquired 828,000 square miles[1] for less than three cents an acre. Perhaps the Senators should review why there is a memorial in St. Louis, or even why Missouri is part of the United States.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was established in 1954 with the following statement:

There is authorized to be constructed by the Secretary of the Interior upon the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site, Saint Louis, Missouri, an appropriate national memorial to those persons who made possible the territorial expansion of the United States, including President Thomas Jefferson and his aides, Livingston and Monroe, who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen, pioneers, and others who contributed to such expansion.

(May 17, 1954, ch. 204, § 1, 68 Stat. 98.)  16 U.S. Code § 450jj – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Senate Action to Remove Thomas Jefferson

Notwithstanding the important purpose of conveying to future generations of Americans the critical role of Jefferson and others in expanding the United States, on December 21, 2017 the United States Senate, by a voice vote[2] approved the following:

AN ACT

To redesignate the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in the State of Missouri as the ‘‘Gateway Arch National Park’’.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Gateway Arch National Park Designation Act’’.

SEC. 2. DESIGNATION OF GATEWAY ARCH NATIONAL PARK.

(a) REDESIGNATION.—The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial established under the Act of May 17, 1954 (16 U.S.C. 450jj et seq.), shall be known and designated as the ‘‘Gateway Arch National Park’’.

(b) REFERENCES.—Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial shall be considered to be a reference to the ‘‘Gateway Arch National Park’’.

The Gateway Arch and a Simple Thought:  Why Not “Jefferson Gateway Arch National Park”?

In this age, when most laws run hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages, the United States Senate used 134 words to set in motion the removal of Thomas Jefferson’s name from a park created to remind Americans of his contribution.

The magnificent Gateway Arch at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was completed in 1965 and has become the commonly used designation for the location in St. Louis. Apparently, the common usage is part of the motivation in the Senate action to rename the area. The question remains, why erase the author of the Declaration of Independence, the founder of the University of Virginia, the nation’s third president and the mover behind the Louisiana Purchase from the name?

In recognition that without Thomas Jefferson, there would be no Gateway Arch, why not change the name to: Jefferson Gateway Arch National Park?

Creating the Declaration of IndependenceStatus of the Bill

The Senate Bill (S. 1438) has now gone to the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

If you object to this erasure of history, please contact your representative and ask that the process of removing Thomas Jefferson from history be halted.

Update:  The House of Representatives has now joined the Senate in voting by voice vote to remove Jefferson’s name.  SEE:  Congress scrubs Thomas Jefferson from Gateway to the West

 

 

 

 

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[1] What would become part or all of 15 states.

[2] Voice vote:- A vote in which the presiding officer states the question, then asks those in favor and against to say “Yea” or “Nay,” respectively, and announces the result according to his or her judgment. The names or numbers of senators voting on each side are not recorded. While a group of Senators may demand a recorded vote, apparently not enough thought removing Jefferson’s name from the memorial was important enough to make the demand.

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