The truth about John C. Calhoun's racist past is no secret. The former senator and vice president's bigoted positions and speeches have been a matter of public record since the middle of the 1800s.
But John Winters just figured out Calhoun's past, and he's approached the Minneapolis Park Board to apply for a change in Lake Calhoun's name.[jump]
The 500-acre lake was named to honor a U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and Secretary of War under President James Monroe. As Secretary of War, Calhoun ordered Colonel Henry Leavenworth to establish a fort in the region, which became Fort Snelling. The locals were grateful, so they named the lake in his honor.
But as a senator in the 1830s and 1840s, Calhoun opposed abolition, and efforts to prevent slavery from taking hold in the western territories and states. He supported the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and insisted that that slavery was a "positive good" during an 1837 Senate floor speech.
I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good -- a positive good. I feel myself called upon to speak freely upon the subject where the honor and interests of those I represent are involved. I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other.
And we named a lake after this guy?
"I am looking at all of this information on Calhoun and the more I see, I think this is one of the worst people ever born in this country," Winters told KARE-11.
Parks Board member Brad Bourn told the station the question of renaming the lake will have to go to a public hearing in the next few months, and could launch a process that taking several years.
What do you think? Should we rename Lake Calhoun?