Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25) proved the only lone “nay” vote on a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation requiring the removal of all Confederate statues in the United States Capitol building.
From the resolution (AR-178): There are few places in the United States where symbols of the country’s history are more prominently on display and in greater abundance than the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C.. The National Statuary Hall Collection, established in 1864, was created with the goal of honoring important historical figures in United States history. Each state is encouraged to contribute two statues, subject to approval by the state legislature and governor, to the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. There are currently eleven statues of individuals who served in the Confederacy on display in the Capitol complex with some, such as Confederate President Jefferson Davis, located just steps from the House chamber.
Himself a war veteran, Bergen rose to explain why he couldn’t support the resolution.
“I don’t believe we should broadly judge someone for their mere participation in a conflict,” said the Morris County-based assemblyman.
He noted Edward Douglas White, who fought in the Civil War for the Confederate Army and was captured.
“He was a young man at the time; after the war he… became the chief justice of our Supreme Court in 1910 until 1921,” said the assemblyman. “I don’t believe this man sould be solely judged on a conflict he served in when he was 18.
“I don’t believe all the statues in the capitol should be there… however, I do believe those states should make those determinations in their own way…[based] on lifetime accomplishments,” Bergen added.
The final vote on the resolution, sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Moen (D-5), was 54-1-17.