Executive Order 13978, signed Jan. 18 by former President Donald Trump, directed a task force to construct a statuary park populated with sculptures of important figures in American history. Trump enacted the order in response to calls to dismantle monuments and landmarks commemorating Americans who played major roles in the nation’s development.
Critics claimed that these monuments highlighted controversial personalities, such as certain Founding Fathers, with a record of wrongdoing that shouldn’t be celebrated.
“The National Garden is America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life,” the order read.
“America is responding to the tragic toppling of monuments to our founding generation and the giants of our past by commencing a new national project for their restoration, veneration, and celebration,” it continued.
The National Garden was set to feature influential Americans including John Adams, Muhammad Ali, Andrew Carnegie, Frederick Douglass, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Milton Friedman, Andrew Jackson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, among many others, according to the order.
The qualifying criterion for selection was that the person had to be a “historically significant American,” which the order defined as someone who “made substantive contributions to America’s public life or otherwise had a substantive effect on America’s history.” The order asked the secretary of the interior to provide funding for the initiative.
The sitting president’s action to prevent a National Garden from being built is one of many reversals he has executed against his predecessor’s policies. Friday’s executive order revoked five other Trump orders as well.