(February 19, 2017) In 1957 freshman Senator John F. Kennedy chaired a five member senate committee to select the names of five former senators for which portraits were to be made and put on display in the Senate Reception Room. The five members had to agree unanimously on each selection.
After pondering the matter for two years, Senator Kennedy announced the selections in 1959. Among the chosen was South Carolina Senator and slaveholder John C. Calhoun, whose name was recently removed from a residential college at Yale University where he was an alumnus.
If our society will not permit Calhoun to be evaluated as a man of his own time, should the same apply to Kennedy? Should future historians evaluate our morality based upon the standards of today, or upon the standards fifty to a hundred years hence? Consider, for example, a hypothetical America in 2117 that universally deplores abortions. Whose monuments and memorials should be removed then?