Showing posts with label Grant Monument Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grant Monument Association. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Grant group investigates curious reappearance of US President in Guinea-Bissau island 'ghost town'

From GMA newsletter, vol. XVI, no. 1, fall 2020, at 4, my photo at right.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the short, strange life of statues in Guinea-Bissau, and, in particular, the strange-upon-strange birth, disappearance, and re-creation of a statue of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant in an abandoned park in the "ghost town" of Bolama Island.

In March, I reported that, since going missing mysteriously in 2007, the Grant statue "was recovered in pieces, and authorities ultimately restored him."

Not quite so.

Grant Monument Association (GMA) President Frank J. Scaturro (Twitter), by day an attorney and historian who is vice-president and senior counsel at the Judicial Crisis Network, noticed that my March photo of the statue did not look like the original.

Your intrepid blogger visits the cane rum distillery in Quinhámel,
Guinea-Bissau, in March. (RJ Peltz-Steele CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Scaturro and the GMA dug into the mystery of the statue's reappearance in the middle of the barren park that was once Guinea-Bissau's glorious "Praça Ulysses S. Grant."  (As to why there is a monument to a U.S. President at all on this West African island, see my March post.)  The pieces of the original statue never have been recovered.

A March 2018 photo shows a still empty pedestal.
(Helena Maria Pestana CC BY-SA 4.0)
The latest GMA newsletter (vol. XVI, no. 1, fall 2020) explains how the present likeness of Grant came to be in 2018:

This occurred at the initiative of then-Governor Quintino Rodrigues Bone. Approximately 100,000 CFA francs (roughly U.S. $180) were spent from the local government fund to obtain supplies for the work—a harness, cement, gravel, and colorless paint. With these materials, a local artist, Luizinho (Zinho) Ká, constructed a cement statue. He did not receive any compensation for his work.

....

According to the State Department, there is local interest in replacing the cement statue with a new bronze replica of the destroyed statue, but no funding to do so.

My dispatch from Guinea-Bissau came just before the cancel-culture toppling of monuments across the United States.  Sadly, the fall 2020 GMA newsletter also reported the vandalism and toppling of a Grant bust in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in June.

Scaturro said, "It is ironic that a monument to Grant was restored in Guinea-Bissau soon before another was torn down in San Francisco. Americans who do not respect our heritage can learn a lesson from the people of Guinea-Bissau."

Anyone can join the New York-based Grant Monument Association or visit the General Grant National Memorial in New York (check for covid updates).  Scaturro wrote in a statement on Grant's civil rights record:

As the principal author of Union victory during the Civil War, Grant was the principal enforcer of the Emancipation Proclamation.  As president, he secured laws that enforced the recently ratified 13th and 14th Amendments and acted decisively to ensure the ratification of a 15th Amendment that would ban racial discrimination in voting. His achievements included five enforcement acts, the creation of the Justice Department, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which desegregated various modes of public accommodations and transportation. Grant repeatedly employed military intervention to enforce Reconstruction and crushed the 19th-century Ku Klux Klan. Among America’s top leaders, from military commanders to presidents, none has a more sweeping record on civil rights.

The GMA hosts periodic programs of interest to the public and historians.  On November 19, at 7 p.m. US EST, the GMA will host an online colloquy, "A discussion of the partnership between General Ulysses S. Grant & General William T. Sherman," featuring General David Petraeus and Ulysses S. Grant Association Executive Director John Marszalek.  GMA members receive registration information.