The Charleston Museum Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to decline relocating the bronze statue of John C. Calhoun to its Meeting Street campus, citing logistical and historical considerations.
The statue’s 12-foot height and 6,000-pound weight were two factors that led to the board’s executive committee recommending against accepting the statue. The museum’s collections policy dictates that, “the size and weight of any individual object should be such that it can be accommodated by Museum personnel and facilities,” according to the approved resolution. If Calhoun was placed in the museum’s courtyard next to its main entrance, then “the statue would be going from one public space to another.”
A large model of the Confederate submarine Hunley, which sunk off Sullivan’s Island in 1864, currently sits in front of the museum.
Charleston City Council voted in June to have the statue removed. As a pro-slavery forefather for the Confederacy, reexamining Calhoun’s likeness over the city center has long been a hot-button topic for activists and Charleston leaders alike.
Jack O’Toole, a spokesman for Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, said the city will continue to find a suitable place for Calhoun’s statue.
“As the city announced in June, a special committee of historians and scholars will be working over the next several months to find an appropriate home for the Calhoun statue. We’ll have further updates as that process begins to move forward,” said O’Toole. He did not mention any other venues currently under consideration.
The statue’s mass aside, the resolution also dashed Calhoun’s significance for the Charleston Museum.
“While we recognize that John C. Calhoun was a man of significant national historical importance, he was not a Charleston figure and as such his biographical history does not fit in with the Museum’s general purpose and mission of interpreting the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the Lowcountry,” the proposal read.
“The Museum fully supports the relocation of the Calhoun statue to an educational institution that can most appropriately interpret it.”
The Charleston Museum Board of Trustees is made up of 21 members, with three each appointed by the city and the county. All members except one attended Wednesday’s meeting.
The statue to Calhoun was cut from its pedestal in Marion Square on June 24, where it stood for more than a century. A native of Abbeville, South Carolina, Calhoun held federal offices, including vice president, and is known for laying the ideological groundwork for nullification, which led to secession of Southern states over the preservation of slavery. Calhoun described the enslavement of Africans as “a positive good.”
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