Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (R-13) is not happy that Democrats in the New Jersey Senate passed legislation this week that could lead to replacing the statute of General Philip Kearny in the U.S. Capitol with a marble or bronze likeness of Alice Paul, a 20th century leader of the women’s suffrage movement which led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Kearny’s monument has been in the Capitol since 1888. Each state has two statues. The other New Jersey statute is of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the namesake of Stockton University.
Paul, born in Mount Laurel in 1885, helped secure women’s right to vote 100 years ago and then authored the yet to be ratified Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.
Kearny was a war hero in both the United States and France. He lost his arm fighting in the Mexican-American War and died in battle against General Robert E. Lee in the Civil War. The Hudson County Town of Kearny is named for the general.
“The proposal to remove the statue of Gen. Philip Kearny is an indignation and affront to every resident who values New Jersey’s rich history which includes his family,” said Republican Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (13th Legislative District). “I was contacted directly by two of General Kearny’s greatgreat granddaughters who live in my district and have asked me to please prevent this from occurring.”
“However well-meaning intentions may be, the eradication of symbols from our rich historic past must be prevented. As an archaeologist and university professor, I have unique understanding of the importance of maintaining our history,” added Scharfenberger.
The assemblyman wants Alice Paul to be honored, but not by the removal of Kearny’s statue in Washington.
“Alice Paul, a giant in the fight for women’s suffrage, deserves to be lauded for her role in New Jersey’s development and history,” Scharfenberger continued, “and rightfully put in addition to the many already in place.”
Scharfenberger suggests veterans groups to make their voices heard to not only protect the legacy of an American war hero who gave his life for his country, but ensure that a true patriot who fought for women’s rights gets a visible, permanent place in New Jersey’s public sphere.