BREAKING UPDATE: Biden admin retracts plan to remove statue of William Penn from Philadelphia park and 'rehabilitate' the park to commemorate Native Americans

"The preliminary draft proposal, which was released prematurely and had not been subject to a complete internal agency review, is being retracted.  No changes to the William Penn statue are planned."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

Update: The National Parks Service on Monday that the Independence National Historical Park has withdrawn the proposal to rehabilitate Welcome Park

"The preliminary draft proposal, which was released prematurely and had not been subject to a complete internal agency review, is being retracted.  No changes to the William Penn statue are planned," a press release from the Parks Service stated.

"The National Park Service (NPS) remains committed to rehabilitating Welcome Park as the nation prepares to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. Upon completion of all the necessary internal reviews, the park looks forward to engaging in a robust public process to consider options for refurbishing the park in the coming years," the press release added.

Joe Biden's National Park Service under Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will remove the statue of William Penn from the park erected in 1982 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. The park is on the site of his original home in Philadelphia.

The park, located in Philadelphia near the Delaware River at Sansom and Second Streets, will be "rehabilitated" and that proposal will include an "expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia." The plan was "developed in consultations with the representatives of the indigenous nations of the Haudenosaunee, the Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe of Indians, the Shawnee Tribe, and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma."

While much of the original design of the park will remain, the statue of Penn and the model of his original home "will be removed and not reinstalled." The Park Service claims that at some later date, which is not currently funded, there will be a new exhibit that mentions Penn and his work founding what became the state named for him as well as the city of Philadelphia.

The National Park Service, led by National Park Service Director Charles Sams III, who boasts Native American ancestry as does his boss Haaland, runs a substantial portion of Philadelphia's historic sites. This agency is in charge of nearly 54 acres of historic sites in the Old City neighborhood, where the Penn home once stood. The Biden administration praised Haaland when she was appointed for becoming "the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary." Equity, as the Biden White House recently stated, has "always, always" been "at the center of every policy." 

These sites include Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution drafted and debated, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Franklin Court, and many more buildings and historical exhibits that Americans flock to each year to get a glimpse into the past of our nation's founding.

The new park will be designed by famed architectural firm Venturi & Scott Brown Associates, which is the firm that was contracted to design the original in 1982 by the Friends of Independence National Historical Park. The park itself was named for William Penn's ship, the one on which he arrives from England in 1682, called Welcome.

The park was built to celebrate Penn, his life, and the colony he founded which became the great state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies, and Penn founded the colony on the principles of religious freedom and civil freedoms.

Penn's Charter of Privileges was the governing document and was brought into effect in 1701 and acted as the constitution for what was then called Penn's Woods. The land had been a given to Penn by King Charles II as payment for a debt that Charles owed Penn's father who had been an admiral in the British Navy.

Penn was a Quaker who believed in religious freedom as a guiding principal. Philadelphia became known as a Quaker city, and still holds many meetinghouses and Quaker schools. Quakers were abolitionist and led the abolitionist movement. Quakers began the fight for abolition in Philadelphia in the 1680s.

Penn's reputation was tarnished during the George Floyd riots of 2020, when local National Public Radio affiliate WHYY explored Penn's history as a slave owner. They said that Penn "enslaved roughly 12 people" and granted some of them their freedom. WHYY complained that while Quakers protested slavery and spoke out against it, they didn't "officially denounce it" for another 50 years. They don't explain what they mean by that. 

The slaveholding past of America's founding fathers has been used as a crow bar to remove their statues, names and influence from American historical sites, city centers, museums, cemeteries, and other locations. Those who seek the purification of our public, visible historical records believe that no man committed a sin against the modern progressive religion should have his name or good deeds remembered.

In 2021, Democrat lawmakers in the US House proposed a bill "To remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol. To remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol." The bill was called the Confederate Monument Removal Act.

While the bill did not pass, statues were removed across the US either by local governments or by agitators ripping them. Many of these were not Confederate memorials or statues, but simply statues commemorating American history. Now, the Biden administration is removing the statue of the man who founded Pennsylvania from the park commemorating that founding on the land on which his house once stood.

The public is invited to submit comments on this proposal to
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