HOH’s One-Minute Recess: What About the Other Guy?

Posted June 1, 2009 at 11:08am

When President Ronald Reagan comes to the Capitol’s Statuary Hall on Wednesday (in statue form, of course) it no doubt will be a celebratory day for supporters of the Gipper.

[IMGCAP(1)]But not everybody will be beaming with joy — and we aren’t just talking about Reagan’s longtime opponents, either. Descendants and supporters of Thomas Starr King, the guy Reagan will replace, are pretty upset that the California preacher is being thrown out of the Hall.

“Thomas Starr King is a colossus of California history, and he deserves better than to be tossed out the back door like yesterday’s hash,— California-based writer Jack Cheevers protests in a May 29 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.

Starr King’s great-great-granddaughter Ginny King Supple adds: “Thomas Starr King had a lot more to do with the state of the state of California, as opposed to President Reagan. I’m not coming down on Ronald Reagan. He was basically a great man in many ways, but the history of California lies with Thomas Starr King.—

King was a 19th-century, San Francisco-based Unitarian Universalist preacher credited with keeping California in the Union leading up to the Civil War. Although he’s largely forgotten now, in his time Starr King was nationally known, famed for giving powerful speeches throughout the Golden State against slavery. (Read more background on him here.)

The preacher earned his spot in Statuary Hall nearly 80 years ago. But after Reagan died in 2004, California Rep. Ken Calvert (R) led the ultimately successful effort to replace the preacher with the president.

“I thought, well, you know, he was a great person, but he’s been here for a while. Maybe we can replace him with Ronald Reagan,— Calvert told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter.

But Thomas Starr King V, King’s great-great-great-grandson, told the McClatchy reporter that the California Legislature’s move to put Reagan in the Hall was done without any serious debate — “so as not to appear anti-Reagan.—

“Starr King was unceremoniously swept aside because the California Legislature hadn’t done their history homework,— he said. “One wonders if Reagan’s statue will suffer the same fate 100 years from now.—

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