Fate of Samuel Cox Statue in Tompkins Square Park Remains Uncertain

Posted on: August 18th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

Photo: EV Grieve

The statue of Samuel Cox residing in Tompkins Square Park is on the proverbial chopping block.

2nd District Councilwoman Carlina Rivera is calling for Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to remove the 19th century figurehead from the public eye.

Historians and numerous New Yorkers have highlighted that Cox’s history – beyond his work regarding pro-labor policies at the United States Postal Service – includes very disturbing examples of white supremacy, particularly as it relates to emancipation and Black civic participation in the mid-1800s,” Rivera states in her July 30 letter to Commissioner Silver. “As many historians have suggested, such statuary is better situated in non-public settings, such as museums, where they can remain as an educational tool for future generations choosing – operative word – to view and understand our nation’s racist legacy.”

A bit more of Cox’s mark on history, per the NYC Parks Department:

Although Cox once publicly declared that his most satisfying contribution to public service was championing the Life Saving Service—founded in the 1840s to patrol the coasts and save imperiled boaters during bad weather, the group was absorbed into the Coast Guard in 1915—this statue is sponsored by U.S. Postal Service workers because of Cox’s support for their quality-of-life issues. Known as the “letter-carriers’ friend,” Cox spearheaded legislation that led to paid benefits and a 40-hour workweek for postal employees. Mail carriers from the 188 cities named on the monument contributed $10,000 for the statue in a campaign that began soon after Cox’s death.

In recent weeks, the statue has been vandalized and subsequently threatened to be pulled down by protesters. Thus, Cox is now encased in additional metal fencing, and has dedicated police detail keeping watch nearby.

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