Georgia Republicans Seek to Replace Confederate Leader With Hank Aaron at US Capitol

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Georgia lawmakers are seeking to replace one of the state’s statues displayed in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. The plan is to remove the statue of Confederate leader Alexander Stephens and possibly replace him with a statue of baseball legend Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. However, the state legislature might have some obstacles to making this move.


The National Statuary Hall is a chamber in the United States Capitol dedicated to displaying statues of Americans who made history. Congress established the exhibit in 1864, and each state contributed two statues of notable citizens. It serves to honor prominent individuals from each state, reflecting America’s history and achievements. Several other states have already replaced Confederate figures from the exhibit.

The collection includes a dwindling number of other statues of members of the Confederacy, including statues of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate military commander.

They share the space with statues commemorating the likes of President Abraham Lincoln, abolitionist Frederick Douglass and civil rights icon Rosa Parks

Georgia gifted the statute of Stephens in 1927.

Stephens also served in the Georgia Legislature, the House of Representatives and as governor of Georgia.

When the exhibit was first established, several southern states sent statues honoring Confederate leaders.

Federal law signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 gave each state the final say on which two statues to display at the U.S. Capitol, and Southern states often deployed the law to honor in the 1920s Confederate war heroes and segregationist leaders.

Georgia’s all-white General Assembly voted in 1926 to use one of its statues to honor Crawford Long, a 19th century physician who pioneered the use of ether in surgery. A year later, lawmakers added a stone version of Stephens to the display.


The idea to include Aaron, who played for the Atlanta Braves, in the hall was proposed by Republican state Rep. Trey Kelley, who said there is “nothing more American than baseball” and that “no one personifies American values more than Hank Aaron.”

The lawmaker also lauded the athlete for using his influence “to advance civil rights, inspire entrepreneurship and hammer home the Georgia we know today.”

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones praised Aaron as a “hero to Georgians everywhere” and said he “deserves to be honored in a way that reflects his stature and his commitment to Georgia values.”

Alexander Stephens served as the Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. He was a high-profile figure in the antebellum South and know for his enthusiastic support for states’ rights and slavery. He is perhaps best known for his “Cornerstone Speech,” in 1861, in which he ardently defended slavery as the “natural and normal condition” of Black people and as the foundation of the Confederacy.

With this move, Georgia would join several other southern states that removed racist figures from the hall.

Florida two years ago replaced the statue of a Confederate general one honoring Mary McLeod Bethune, a Black educator. And North Carolina unveiled a statue of the Rev. Billy Graham to replace one of a white supremacist who served as governor.


If the Peach State does replace Stephens with Aaron, it won’t happen until January next year when the state legislature reconvenes. It is not known whether it will have enough support from other lawmakers or whether Aaron’s family will approve. Still, if this happens, it could prompt other states to follow suit.


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