A petition at Change.org that demands the statue of William Seward come down from the plaza in front of the Alaska State Capitol has been answered by another petition — this one to keep the statue.
On June 23, Richard Showalter of Palmer started the petition, and within four days over 500 people had signed it.
The first petition, which says the statue should be removed, was created June 10 and, as of this writing, has over 1,700 signatures.
It’s impossible to say where the signers are from in these online petitions or if they are even Alaskans. Change.org petitions can be influential, however.
In the “Seward Must Go” petition, Seward is described as “a colonizer who contributed to the disenfranchisement of Alaska Native peoples.
“In this current climate, where other monuments depicting racists and representatives of slavery are being taken down across the country, Juneau should honor our Indigenous hosts whose land we stand upon and remove William H. Seward from the capital courtyard,” the petition says.
Seward was an abolitionist who worked to free the slaves.
The second petition, “Seward Must Stay,” describes Seward as a “determined opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the American Civil War, he was a prominent figure in the Republican Party in its formative years, and was praised for his work on behalf of the Union as Secretary of State during the Civil War.
After the original “Seward Must Stay” petition, two others wanting to keep the statue popped up at the website and are starting to gain signatures.