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Kaine Leads Introduction of Senate Legislation to Remove “Robert E. Lee Memorial” from Arlington House’s Name

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced legislation to remove “Robert E. Lee Memorial” from the official name of Arlington House. The legislation, which was partially inspired by the request of descendants of Lee and people who were enslaved at Arlington House, was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Don Beyer (VA-08), alongside Representatives Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL).

“If we are serious about ending racial disparities, we need to stop honoring those who fought to protect slavery,” Kaine said. “I’m proud to be part of the effort to rename Arlington House, and am going to keep fighting for the kinds of reforms we need to create a society that delivers liberty and justice for all.”

“As our country and our Commonwealth grapple with the history of racism and slavery and engage in a long-overdue reexamination of public symbols, we have an opportunity to make it clear that we do not revere Confederate leaders or condone the enslavement of human beings,” Beyer said. “Congress should never approve or celebrate violent insurrection against the United States government. Robert E. Lee himself opposed erecting Confederate monuments, and the site was chosen to punish his rebellion against the lawful government of the United States. Arlington House has a larger history which deserves memorialization and reflection, and it is therefore fitting and just that Congress remove the designation of Arlington House as a Memorial to Robert E. Lee.”

The mansion, which sits on federal land within Arlington National Cemetery and is administered by the National Park Service, overlooks the Potomac River and the nation’s capital. The house was built by Martha Custis Washington’s grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, as the nation's first memorial to George Washington. Later, his daughter married Robert E. Lee and lived in the home until the Civil War, during which the site was chosen to serve as a national military cemetery in part to prevent Lee from returning. Congress passed legislation in 1955 designating the house the “Custis-Lee Mansion” to memorialize Lee, and subsequently amended the official title to "Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial." The legislation would remove the latter part of that name and return the house to its original name “Arlington House.”