Edmund Kirby Smith’s days in the U.S. Capitol Building appear to be numbered.
A Florida Senate committee on Tuesday took another step in removing the statue of Smith, who is depicted in one of two statues representing Florida in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Smith’s claim to fame is having been born in St. Augustine and was one of the last major commanding officers in the Confederate Army to surrender during the Civil War. Smith, a Lieutenant General fighting in Texas, did not surrender until June 2, 1865 in Galveston – nearly two months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army in Virginia.
But as has been the case for weeks, sponsors of the legislation insisted their legislation is not a reaction to Smith being a Confederate soldier, but because Florida needs someone new and more representative of the state to be on display at the U.S. Capitol Building.
“The reality of it is, is that Kirby Smith had a very minimal impact on Florida,” state Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, said.
Legg said as a high school history teacher, he would take students to the U.S. Capitol Building on trips and always thought Florida could have a better statue on display to demonstrate the state’s history.
“There’s so many people who had such an impact on Florida in the last 100 years,” Legg said.