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A stealth history lesson in Baltimore

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Empty statue pedestal in Baltimore

The pedestal where Baltimore’s statue of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice who authored the Dred Scott decision, once stood.

BALTIMORE — We were all in the dark, on the edge of the wooded park known as Wyman Dell, opposite the Baltimore Museum of Art. It was 2 a.m. Wednesday, and despite the presence of a couple of dozen workers in hardhats, a huge crane, a flatbed truck and a couple of other pieces of heavy machinery, the work site, surrounded by police tape, was remarkably still.

All of us — the workers, the cops, the mayor, scattered reporters and onlookers — watched the focus of the work, an imposing sculpture of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, each on his horse. The crane lowered a big harness dangling from a red metal hook. One worker clambered up on a ladder to fit the harness around the prodigious girth of the generals’ steeds. There was much adjustment and anticipation.

Alec MacGillis covers politics for ProPublica.