New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has just three months left in office, is quietly banishing a statue of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson from City Hall’s council chambers — where it has resided for the past 187 years, The Post has learned.
The city’s Public Design Commission — comprised of mayoral appointees — has listed “the long term loan” of the 1833 bronze cast of the Declaration of Independence author to the New-York Historical Society on its “consent” agenda for Monday.
The consent designation means the historic statue’s removal is not scheduled for public debate. The 11-member design commission will vote on de Blasio’s Jefferson exile after reviewing public comments, a City Hall spokesman said.
New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio makes declarations at a mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Bronx borough of New York City, Feb. 5, 2021. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Meanwhile, a replica of the statue by sculptor Pierre-Jean David is still on display in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.
The terms of the loan to the historical society for the Jefferson, which was gifted to City Hall by naval officer and Jefferson admirer Uriah Phillips Levy in 1834, are still being negotiated. But Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-Queens), who’s been pushing to boot Jefferson, said the loan is “indefinite.”
Miller said he expects the statue to be gone by Oct. 21, the City Council’s next body-wide meeting.
At least one council member wasn’t pleased with Jefferson’s banishment.
“The de Blasio administration will continue the progressive war on history as he, himself, fades away into a portrait on a City Hall wall,” Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told The Post.
“I hope he is at least gone a couple hundred years before someone cancels him,” Borelli said.
In this Aug. 19, 2020, file photo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to reporters after visiting New Bridges Elementary School in the Brooklyn borough of New York, to observe pandemic-related safety procedures. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Reps for the historical society didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
“The city would still own the plaster model, and the historical society would include it in educational exhibits and provide valuable historical context,” a mayoral spokesman said.
The planned move comes after the mayor charged his wife, first lady Chirlane McCray, with deciding the sculpture’s fate as head of the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation.
Her appointment came in June 2020 — following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and a day after several City Council members asked the mayor to remove Jefferson’s likeness from the council chambers because the nation’s third president owned slaves.
“There’s so much about Thomas Jefferson and his own personal writings, memoirs about how he treated his slaves, his family members and things of that nature and how he perceived African Americans and slaves — that they lacked intelligence, that they were not to assimilate into society,” Miller told The Post.
“For us to really highlight such an individual is really not who we are as a council,” Miller said.