Transcript of Davis’ floor remarks:
Mr. Speaker, it’s an honor to follow Whip Clyburn and the historical context of being a history teacher and also the historical context of serving in this institution and what it means. So thank you, Whip Clyburn, thank you for your leadership. Thank you to my good friend Mr. Butterfield for your leadership on this issue.
We’re going to work together today to make sure that we send a message to the American people, that it’s Republicans and Democrats standing together. Now, I have a unique district in – a unique district in Central Illinois.
I’m from the Land of Lincoln, as a matter of fact, Abe himself lives in my district. I represent Lincoln’s tomb, Lincoln’s home, and the Old State Capitol where Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech in 1858. It’s in my congressional district.
It was there where Lincoln not only spoke out against slavery, and specifically, the Dred Scott decision, but stood unequivocally in support of a free country, famously saying…
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
Lincoln and many others who stood for freedom are represented throughout this Capitol, there are others that symbolize the opposite. While we cannot erase our past – and as Whip Clyburn just stated, we should do everything we can to learn from it instead – the statues in the U.S. Capitol represent to visitors throughout the world what we stand for as a nation. I support this important discussion about which statues belong in the U.S. Capitol and also the goal of this legislation.
Before we begin debating this piece of legislation, my friend, Mr. Butterfield, and I had a discussion about the 13th Amendment. I invite all members of this institution to come to my district, to come to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, where I can show you an original copy of the 13th Amendment. Also, one of the first copies of the Emancipation Proclamation. This institution is not just an extended classroom. Where Lincoln lived, where Lincoln is honored, the 13th District of Illinois that I am truly blessed to represent, is also a living classroom of the good things in our nation’s history.
Now, we also have to remember that the National Statuary Hall Collection was created in 1864 to commemorate states and their contributions to this country. And many statues being discussed today were donated by the states to the collection nearly 100 years ago and, as my colleagues earlier have said, many states are already working to remove them. While I support their removal, I believe the better route would have been to have some more hearings in the Committee on the House Administration.
But today, today is not about politics. Today is about coming together as an institution and today is a day that I can say proudly, I am blessed to be a member of Congress.
Our country right now is facing a very difficult time. Abraham Lincoln’s spirit of unity – and unity is desperately needed, “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”
As leaders, we need to come together to show there’s much more that unites us as Americans than divides us and lead this country together, Republicans and Democrats, through this difficult time. I hope this legislation today, the bipartisanship that we’ll see, is a shining example to the rest of the country that we can do it together.
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