The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has denied a student request to place a plaque next to a statue of Abraham Lincoln on campus, detailing his “brutality toward indigenous peoples.”
The student government request comes after the Associated Students of Madison shed light on an 1862 incident in which Lincoln mandated the execution of Sioux prisoners who had been convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals; 260 men were charged but Lincoln only put 38 to death.
The Daily Cardinal reported that Chancellor Rebecca Black said she was not open to placing the plaque next to the statue that has stood on campus for over a century.
Many of the Sioux killed were believed to be innocent, and ASM chair Katrina Morrison said she believes it necessary to recognize the act of brutality.
“I think that the history is irrefutable. It is clear that he played a huge role in the massacre and was killing innocent people for no reason,” said Morrison.
Co-president of an indigenous student organization, Mariah Skenandore said the refusal to approve the plaque is representative of the school’s oppression of minority students.
“They don’t acknowledge the impact that it is having on their students, and I’m impacted by [the statue] every day,” Skenandore said. “I think the plaque is the least the university can do.”
Chancellor Black sees a different side of the story. She notes how Lincoln was pressured to kill all 260 by a Republican leader who said it would be better electorally for the Party, and Lincoln responded by saying, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.”
Black explained the statue is meant to be a tribute to what Lincoln did for higher education in the United States.
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