City researching who owns John C. Calhoun statue, land

Updated: Aug. 17, 2017 at 11:43 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A spokesman for the City of Charleston says research is underway to determine who owns a statue of John C. Calhoun and the land on which it stands.

Spokesman Jack O'Toole says it is unclear who owns the statue and land directly beneath in Marion Square.

The research comes after several groups have called for the removal of the statue following a weekend of racial tension and deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Both Calhoun's statue and the land it sits on was believed to be owned by the Washington Light Infantry, but the organization's commander, Major Gen. Henry I Siegling, issued a statement Thursday disputing that:

The Washington Light Infantry is the City of Charleston's oldest and most venerable militia unit. We were founded in July of 1807 in preparation for our second war with England. Since her sons have answered our nation's call to arms and service and have proudly served in every conflict since.

We are opposed to the removal of the statue of John C Calhoun on Marion Square or any other monument in our fair city. History is history -- good or bad but our history it is. The United States of America is a neophyte on the world stage. Some times we got it right and sometimes we did not, but it is our history regardless. Removal of statues will not change that.

The statue of John C. Calhoun belongs to the City of Charleston as does the plot of land on which it stands. The John C. Calhoun statue was conveyed to the City of Charleston by the Ladie's Calhoun Monument Association in a letter written to the mayor on July 7, 1898. On July 18, 1898, at a special meeting of city council it was accepted by council. "Resolved that the city council gratefully accepts the high honor and the responsibilities which it involves, and pledges the faith of the city to watch over and keep it as a priceless treasure and sacred trust."

It is our hope that the city continues to honor [its] pledge.

Calhoun, who died in 1850, 11 years before the start of the Civil War, was a statesman, the seventh vice president of the United States. But his support of slavery has prompted several groups to call for the statue's removal.

Earlier this week, groups including the National Action Network, Charleston and North Charleston Chapters of the NAACP and the Democratic Socialists of America have called for the repeal of the South Carolina Heritage Act of 2000. The law requires a two-thirds vote of members of the House and Senate to remove a monument.

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