Removal and relocation of Charleston’s John C. Calhoun Monument


John C. Calhoun Monument removal | Photo by the CHStoday team

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Last night, Charleston City Council unanimously voted to remove the John C. Calhoun Monument in Marion Square. Mayor Tecklenburg says the resolution to relocate the statue will be discussed during their next meeting on June 30.

The John C. Calhoun Monument

  • The monument was built in May 1896 to honor statesman John C. Calhoun. Since its establishment, the monument has generated controversy within the community. In his statement, Mayor Tecklenburg referred to Calhoun as “both South Carolina’s most prominent national statesman and its most consequential defender of slavery and white supremacy.” Read the monument’s full history here.
  • Over the years, additions to the statue such as a plaque with more detailed historical context and overview of Calhoun – were advocated for, but never agreed upon.
  • The monument is owned by the city, but sits on privately owned land belonging to the Board of Officers of the Washington Light Infantry and the Sumter Guard.
  • Charleston City Council unanimously voted on its removal during their meeting on June 23.
  • The City Council will discuss the fate of the monument during their meeting next Tuesday (June 30). You can live stream the meeting via the City of Charleston’s YouTube channel.
  • Until a decision is made, the John C. Calhoun Monument will be kept in an undisclosed indoor location.

South Carolina operates under a Heritage Act, which grants the state sole ability to change or remove any monuments or memorials that belong to the state. While the City of Charleston claims this act does not apply to this particular monument since it belongs to the city and sits on privately-owned ground, it is unclear whether the city will end up fighting the state.

Mayor Tecklenubrg expressed his desire for the monument to be relocated to a museum or academic institution where the statue can be observed in full historical context. He stated, “The purpose of this resolution is not to discard any of our past, but to honor our lessons. Not to erase any of that history, but to write a new chapter.Watch the full meeting here.

The removal process began just before midnight following the City Council meeting. As of Wednesday morning, crews have run into some technical conflicts and are still working to lift the statue.

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