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Jefferson Statue May Be Removed After More Than 100 Years at City Hall

“The thing that is so troubling to people is that even someone who understood so deeply the values of freedom and human dignity, and the value of each life, was still a slave owner,” the mayor said.

The leaders of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus saw the issue with less equivocation.

“I don’t expect to go into City Hall and see representations of such an oppressive past to so many people,” said I. Daneek Miller, a councilman from Queens and a co-chairman of the caucus. “We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.”

According to experts who track monuments, several other Jefferson statues have been removed or destroyed over the last year, including ones in Georgia and Oregon. Last year, Lucian K. Truscott IV, a direct descendant of Jefferson, wrote in The New York Times that the Jefferson Memorial in Washington should be replaced by a monument of the abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

A study of about 50,000 American monuments released last month by the research studio Monument Lab found that of the 50 people represented most frequently, nearly all were white men and half were slave owners. The organization’s director, Paul M. Farber, said that a nationwide reconsideration is underway.

“These decisions are not always about a statue, but really about how power is practiced through public memory and monuments,” Mr. Farber said.

If the statue is moved, curators at the New-York Historical Society intend to present it in a historical context that illuminates the “principal contradiction of our founding ideals” and the “lived experience of many founding Americans, including Jefferson,” said Louise Mirrer, the organization’s president and chief executive.

The initial loan period for the statue, which is in good condition after a recent renovation, would last 10 years and could be extended. The society already has a sword that belonged to Levy in its collection.

“We don’t bury history at our institution,” Ms. Mirrer said. “We tell history, and history is tough and it’s filled with contradictions.”

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