Washburn University School of Law removes statutes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin

Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kas., removed two statutes in July — Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. 

The move came after protests against racial injustice across the U.S., including protests and vandalism of statues of slaveholders. The university said the two statues stood outside the law school for two decades prior to their removal. 

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, inherited slaves and retained most of them through his life. However, in 1778 he encouraged Virginia to ban slave importation, and he made it illegal as President in 1807. In 1824, he proposed a national plan to end slavery by having the federal government purchase Black slave children and educate them.

Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves in his life, both household servants, but eventually set them free. He became an abolitionist and argued that slavery was a vile institution that ran counter to the principles of the American Revolution. 

The statues at Washburn were a gift from a donor. Prior to removing them, Washburn University President Jerry Farley discussed the concerns with the family of the donor, who has since died.

After the Black Live Matter Movement gained traction in June, some Washburn law students questioned the propriety of the statutes. However, the law school said the decision to remove them was not in response to a protest or request from students.

A spokesperson said few people have noticed the statues are no longer on campus and it has not prompted much discussion since classes started.

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