Street co-naming inconsistencies
To the editor:
The Town and Village report on the rescinding of the proposed street co-naming for William Maxwell Evarts was seriously in error (“Controversy over anti-Mormon rhetoric nixes street co-naming,” T&V, October 10).
Community Board 6’s objections were twofold: (1) Evart’s defense of the anti-Reconstructionist President Andrew Johnson in his Impeachment trial, and (2) Evart’s central role in the theft of the presidential election of 1876. There was no consideration or even any mention of any Mormon Church controversy by CB6.
Robert Pigott’s article highlighted Evarts’ role defending Johnson, but omitted Johnson’s efforts to obstruct the then newly passed 13th Amendment. It also omitted Evarts’ central role in the Hayes-Tilden election.
CB6’s process of rescinding the April Resolution was first addressed in a memo on May 30, and then on June 19, at the CB6 Executive Committee meeting.
Historian, Community District 6, Manhattan
Editor’s note: Reporter Ryan Songalia, who wrote the story about the co-naming, attended Community Board 6’s full board meeting on September 11 where a discussion preceded the board’s vote to rescind a previous resolution to co-name the corner after Evarts. According to audio from the meeting, Transportation Committee Chair Sandra McKee said that after the resolution for the co-naming was originally passed last April, a Community Board member felt that additional information was necessary, and after City Council started vetting Evarts for the potential co-naming, they encountered issues with his stance on immigrants.
“The Office of the General Counsel came back with additional questions and concerns, mostly around the exclusion of Mormon immigrants that Evarts supported,” said Katie Loeb, Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s budget director, at the full board meeting, also noting that the law department would likely not approve the co-naming because of that controversy.
McKee told Town & Village this week that the decision to rescind the initial resolution was made by a vote at the executive committee and each board member voted for or against the proposal for their own specific reasons, although the initial proposal to rescind the resolution in the first place was due to questions raised by Sepersky.
Sepersky also clarified to Town & Village that the conversation about Evarts and anti-Mormon rhetoric was actually “a shield and a red herring” because any exclusion of Mormon immigrants was done under the direction of President Rutherford Hayes and not due to any personal decision by Evarts himself. Sepersky specified that the main reason that the resolution was brought up to be rescinded in the first place was due to Evarts’ defense of President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial and his role in the theft of the 1876 presidential election. This was based on Johnson’s efforts to obstruct Reconstruction after the Civil War, and his hostility to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing full citizenship to all men born in the United States (i.e., newly-freed, formerly-enslaved men).