New York city hall removes Thomas Jefferson statue

A statue of Thomas Jefferson is pictured in the council chambers in city hall after a vote to have it removed in New York City.

City public design commission voted to send 884lb, 7ft statue to the New York Historical Society because Jefferson enslaved people

A statue of Thomas Jefferson has been removed from city hall in New York, because the founder and third president enslaved people.

A work crew spent several hours on Monday freeing the 884lb, 7ft statue from its pedestal in the council chambers and carefully maneuvering it into a padded wooden crate, for the short journey to the New York Historical Society.

The city public design commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, Bill de Blasio, voted earlier in the day to exile the statue, sculpted in 1833, to the society on a 10-year loan.

Some members wanted it to remain on public display instead of standing in the lobby of a venue, on Central Park West, that charges $22 admission, the New York Post reported.

The decision to remove the statue was made earlier this year, after a period of introspection in the wake of neo-Nazi disturbances in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Yet historians were already changing their opinions of Jefferson, long thought of as a benevolent owner of about 600 enslaved people. A 2012 portrait in Smithsonian magazine highlighted the darker side of a man who described the slave trade, in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, as an “execrable commerce” and an “assemblage of horrors”.