A committee at Florida State University voted to remove a statue of Francis Eppes, the grandson of American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, over the concerns that he was a slave owner. Also, some students claim that Eppes was not a founder of the university, although he was instrumental in founding the school which eventually became Florida State University.
Here is what the university’s “Legacy Walk” website says about Eppes:
On the north side of Westcott Plaza you will find a beautifully rendered bronze seated statue by nationally renowned artist and sculptor Ed Jonas of the “Founder of Florida State University,” Francis Wayles Eppes. FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte wanted to recognize the unique history of FSU and major contributors to successes of FSU’s first 150 years, and in an overall campus improvement project begun in 1989, he commissioned a statue of Francis Eppes. Francis Eppes was born into one of the most influential families in America. His maternal grandfather was Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States of America. Under his grandfather’s tutelage, Eppes enjoyed a first-rate education. His summers spent at Monticello would result in a life-long love of books. Eppes shared his grandfather’s interests in learning and religion, but not in politics. He came to Florida in 1827 and in 1835, following the death of his first wife, moved to nearby Tallahassee.
Francis Eppes never preferred political office. He did, however, serve as Justice of the Peace and long-time Intendant (Mayor) of the City of Tallahassee and as president of the Board of Education. Responding to the need for state-sponsored institutions of higher learning, the Florida legislature passed the Legislative Act of January 24, 1851. This act called for the establishment of two colleges with one located to the east and the other located to the west of the Suwannee River. Ocala was awarded the East Florida Seminary and this eventually evolved to the University of Florida. With Eppes as a strong advocate, Tallahassee won out over the cities of Quincy and Marianna to become the home of the Seminary West of the Suwannee, which evolved to the current Florida State University. Cadets from the seminary fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge and repelled Union forces. When Union troops finally entered the City of Tallahassee, Eppes surrendered the city.