In today’s Detroit Free Press, a descendant of Gen. Alexander Macomb, a military hero in the War of 1812, calls for the removal of the general’s statue in downtown Detroit based on the family’s tainted history.
I wonder why Kyle Alexander de Beausset, the 4th great-grandson of Macomb, did not also target the general’s statue that stands prominently in the center of downtown Mount Clemens (above), the county seat of Macomb County, which was named after the general. But I suspect de Beausset would also like to see the towering Macomb statue in front of the county courthouse toppled in an unceremonious manner.
In his guest column published on the Free Press editorial pages, de Beausset explains that Gen. Macomb’s father and uncle both grabbed land in Michigan from several Native American tribes during the Revolutionary War. In turn, his uncle William became the largest slaveholder in Michigan prior to statehood, at a time when slavery still persisted in the territory.
Gen. Macomb’s honors over the past two centuries stem from his war hero status during the War of 1812, holding back the British forces in a key battle. But De Beausset, a Grosse Ile resident, writes that the victory was essentially a stalemate that cemented in place the theft of tribal lands.
Surely, the sight of the general’s statue in Detroit, located at Michigan Avenue and Washington Boulevard, cannot compare with the ire that has led to many of the nation’s Confederate monuments being torn down or targeted for removal on a daily basis. Or to the statues of Christopher Columbus that have been eliminated, including one near Detroit City Hall that was located just a few blocks from the Macomb statue.
The Confederates and Columbus stood for slavery and genocide. For DeBeausset, so too did his ancestors.
“Until white people are able to effectively confront our colonialist and racist history head on,” he wrote, “I don’t think any of us will truly be free.”
Let the debate begin.