Monday, November 3, 2014

Zachariah Chandler Statue

This statue of Sen. Zachariah Chandler stands in Michigan's Constitution Hall, downtown Lansing. Chandler was very influential in 19th-Century American politics. He helped found the Republican Party in 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. He was a strong abolitionist and vocal opponent of the secession by the southern states during the Civil War. He opposed the payment of pensions to retired officers of the U.S. Army that fought for the Confederate Army after the end of the war. It was believed he would have been the 1880 GOP nominee for President, but he died on November 1, 1879, nearly a year before the election. This statue previously stood in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol until it was replaced several years ago with a statue of Gerald Ford.

Chandler was the quintessential statesman of his time, yet, sadly, most Michiganders and even fewer Americans have ever heard of him. He wrote a letter to Michigan's Governor right before the American Civil War began that many historians call the "Blood Letter", because it advocated for the shedding of blood to free the slaves in the South. He ultimately spoke those same words in a heated session of the U.S. Senate, which many southern Senators protested. Within a few months of this letter and his speech, the southern states started to secede and actual blood was spilt.

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