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Texas county historical commission calls for removal of Confederate plaque at Capitol

Katie Hall, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in News & Features

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Travis County Historical Commission on Wednesday decided to write a letter to several state agencies recommending the removal of a plaque at the Capitol that honors the Confederacy and says that slavery was not a cause of the Civil War.

The commission's decision comes just as the State Preservation Board is expected to consider the issue at its Friday meeting. Commission Chairman Bob Ward said he would send the letter Thursday to the State Preservation Board, the Texas Historical Commission and the attorney general's office.

The plaque, which is near the Rotunda in the Capitol and is titled the "Children of the Confederacy Creed," states that members of the Texas division of the organization Children of the Confederacy "pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals; to honor our veterans; to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is, that the war between the states was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery), and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors."

At the Travis County Historical Commission meeting Wednesday, Commissioner Bob Perkins, a former Travis County judge, said "it's clear that the statement on there is not a fact."

"When they put it up in the state of Texas Capitol, inherently that is a statement by the Capitol -- by the state -- that this is the truth," Perkins said. "And it's not the truth."

Perkins read from the Texas ordinance of secession, adopted just before the Civil War began, in which its writers outlined the reasons Texas decided to secede from the United States. Slavery is mentioned extensively.

"This is what the whole thing was about," Perkins said. "This was it."

The State Preservation Board, the Legislature, the Texas Historical Commission and the Capitol curator all have the authority to remove the plaque, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a November opinion. A lawmaker, according to the opinion, can file a change request form regarding the plaque, and the "discretion to approve the change thereafter lies with the curator or the (State Preservation Board)." State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, has called for the plaque's removal.

The plaque is the only new business listed on the agenda for the State Preservation Board's Friday meeting, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. at 1400 Congress Ave. in the Betty King Committee Room.

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At least 45 state lawmakers have told the American-Statesman the plaque should be taken down.

One person, Bryan Register, came to speak at the Travis County Historical Commission on Wednesday. Register, an organizer with the group De-Confederate Austin, said the commission should recommend that a historically accurate plaque be hung in its place.

"The idea that I have is to try to turn all these Confederate things into an educational opportunity," Register said. "So it's not just something to be disappeared."

The commission chairman said the commission could consider that in the future once they see the proposed wording.

(c)2019 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

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