Focused on Mississippi: Origins of the Andrew Jackson statue

Focused on Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Jackson City Council voted to remove the statue of former President Andrew Jackson from outside city hall.

Shakespeare had Mark Antony start his funeral oration of Julius Caesar by saying he came to bury Caesar, not praise him. And then he went on to praised him. The next line in Mark Antony’s ‘Julius Caesar’ speech rings quite true about Andrew Jackson. However, he says, “The evil that men do lives on after them. The good is often interred with their bones.” 

And you don’t hear much good about Jackson anymore. But there must have been something. So when the City of Jackson was carved out of a wooded bluff overlooking the Pearl River swamps in 1821, they must have had a high regard for Andrew Jackson. Either that or what were they thinking? 

Although Jackson went on to become the seventh President of the United States, he wasn’t president yet when the city was named for him. But he was a military hero, having defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Enough of a hero that Mississippi’s new capital city was named for him, along with a lot of other cities and counties through the country.

The statue of Andrew Jackson at Jackson’s City Hall was commissioned by Keep Jackson Beautiful, who also created the park in which it stands, Josh Halbert Gardens. 

The statue itself was created by Katherine Rhymes Speed, who was the widow of one-time Jackson Mayor Leland Speed. Ms. Speed took up sculpting late in life and studied under Dr. Sam Gore at Mississippi College. She has many of her works in place around the country, particularly at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where several busts of the players on the Chief’s football team are her works. 

So the problem with her statue isn’t the work of art itself, but the subject matter, who’s evil has lived on after him has eclipsed his good that is interred with his bones. 

But in any case, let’s respect the art and the artist and the spirit of culture and beautification under which it was commissioned and make sure our city isn’t remembered for it’s evil, but for the good we manage to pull from our souls as we make our way through history. 

There are no plans for where the Jackson statue will be taken or when the removal will take place. 

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