If someone were to come to me today and propose erecting a statue to Robert E. Lee, I would probably say no. Longstanding calls on government officials to remove statues associated with pro-slavery figures have given way to protest-fueled iconoclasm–statues and monuments once protested are now defaced and toppled in convulsive anger. Baltimore — It has been 3½ years since Baltimore officials removed four Confederate monuments from public land. Let’s tear the thing down,” I think I’d be equally reluctant to join in, if only because of my own concern about cultural iconoclasm. Early Civil Rights: Washington or Du Bois? Earlier this month, the last major Confederate monument in California came down.It was a curious one: a nine-foot granite pillar in an Orange County … All right, which Confederate flag? When someone looks at Robert E. Lee, they say, “A, he fought for a cause that was fundamentally designed to destroy the Union. image caption Democrats have called for Confederate monuments to be removed from Capitol Hill in Washington The second wave came in the 1950-1960s, as … Although they remain the products of an era fraught with discrimination, Confederate and Union monuments alike appear to have followed a fairly typical pattern of veterans’ commemorations aimed at cultivating support among this constituency and their families. Is Louisiana in the same category as Florida? What I’m afraid of in the current environment is that in fact it’s not really a lot of thought. The monument was designed 1914 by Moses Ezekiel, a Jewish Confederate, who wanted to correctly portray the “racial makeup” in the Confederate Army. It left the south economically devastated, and resulted in the criminalization of slavery in the United States. That is, the 1890s are the time when the South economically is starting to finally recover from the economic impact of the Civil War, which is to say that between 1865 and 1890, there’s not a lot of monument-building because they can’t afford it. In some cases, these are people who are also doing this because they came back from the war, those who actually did manage to come back. Today, do these meanings get down from their pedestals and walk around anymore? List of Union Civil War monuments and memorials - Wikipedia At that point, the whole idea of what particular individual it represents starts to get very vague it becomes a mass-produced thing, at which point specific means start to get very hard to pin on things. They tell us much, much more about the period that they went up in, that they were created in, and the people that created them. "Nowhere has the national re-examination of Confederate emblems been more riven with controversy than the Lone Star State." That was not in 1870, 1890, 1910. I think there’s a desire for stories that have been suppressed and stories that haven’t been told to be told, and stories of people who suffered under these regimes and also people who courageously resisted, somebody like Ida B. Ralph Northam, though a judge on Monday issued a … What do we do now? So, can you just give us an overview of how cities ended up erecting Confederate statues after the Civil War? There’s certainly a sense in which, for instance, the African-American population in the South has no interest in receding into ignorance about some of the meanings of these statues, There are, in the South, the slave market in Charleston, South Carolina now has a current use, and there are spaces that have moved on, but it seems like in the South now that there’s something asking to be acknowledged that hasn’t been yet. We are now part of one country, and we have to live that way.”. School names and flags may therefore evince a clearer racial motive in connection with Confederate iconography than the older statues, which were more closely intertwined with the politics of veterans’ commemorations and pensions. They want to erect monuments to their youth. Ed, what is your take on this? Allen Guelzo: I hope it does. All rights reserved. The Great Courses: Can I ask you, Allen, to tease out a little bit about the difference that you see between memorial and monument? There are monuments, and then there are memorials. About half a mile away at Monument and McPherson Avenues, a similar monument marks the spot where Union General John B. McPherson was killed by Confederate forces the same day. Not only I think is the scorecard idea a good one, I also think there’s a question of looking at the landscape and saying, “What is here already, and what should be here in the future?”. They are not separate subjects which can be put in a box and separated from the larger questions we’re asking about our public life. Sometimes a monument, sometimes a statue is just there, and people walk past it and say, “What is that?” Sometimes it’s really not much more than a roost for pigeons. It is not possible to capture every dimension of monument construction from a strictly empirical approach, as a detailed examination of specific monuments reveals. In some cases, it’s hard to disentangle this, but clearly these monuments go up as symbols not just of memory of the war but also of the restoration of some kind of society that somewhat looks like the pre-Civil War period, where African-Americans have almost no power whatsoever, and are living in great poverty, and in fear of retribution if they try to exercise any of the rights that they won at the end of the Civil War. Then when I hear discussions about Robert E. Lee from the other side, “Robert E. Lee is a symbol of white supremacy,” The reality is, Robert E. Lee could have, at Appomattox, with just one word, have turned his Army of Northern Virginia loose as a guerrilla force and sent them fleeing to the hills, fleeing to the mountains, yet Lee categorically stopped that in his tracks. In the Asian Flu of 1957-58, They Rejected Lockdowns, Five Times this Year the New York Times Accidentally Told the Truth, Twelve Forgotten Principles of Public Health, FBI’s Newest Prerogative: Shooting Subway Passengers, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. That’s one aspect of that research. They’re about making statements about who is in charge in the South. I think Kentucky is considered the south. Union monuments vs Confederate monuments: the numbers. As Union pensions grew at the federal level, southern states followed suit and began implementing similar expenditures on behalf of Confederate veterans, their widows, and their children. That much noted, political discussions about public monuments of all types could benefit from a firmer grounding in historical evidence and data. When I hear that, that poses a problem for me, because I decline to recognize a definition of American beyond citizenship. To put a focus on the role of both parties during the Civil War, and the founding of the Confederacy, is to highlight the fact that the Republican party was founded specifically to abolish slavery and had six points in its first 9-plank platform that dealt with civil rights, equal rights, and voting rights for liberated slaves. The New York Times’s Nikole Hannah-Jones recently tweeted (now deleted) that it “would be an honor” if these incidents were named “the 1619 Riots” in reference to her error-riddled yet also prize-winning set of essays, the 1619 Project. supercurrymax 5 months ago #1. Another path acknowledges the hard work that remains while also understanding when and why monuments were built, including commemorations from the distant past that have fallen from favor as well as new subjects of public art that once suffered neglect. What they really were, was a coalition of some very ideologically pointed people, democratic socialists, organizations of that sort, Triangle People’s Assembly, the Workers of the World Party. Ed O’Donnell: Right, but even those flags are also interesting, because they’re part of that story as well. This war is known as the American Civil War, and it lasted from 1861 to 1865. The Great Courses: Yeah. At the present, these constructions outpace the trickle of new Union and Confederate markers that occasionally appear. When Southerners want to talk to me about their heritage, I scratch my head and I think, “Heritage? They’ve been ruined economically. After the collapse of “Massive Resistance” in the wake of subsequent court orders and civil rights legislation, the number of new schools bearing Confederate-themed names dwindled away to a trickle. The people who were involved in the tear-down of that particular statue were not, shall we say, just ordinary American progressives. While the Union’s text began with “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union […]” whereas Confederates deleted all references to “People of the United States” and replaced it with “We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character […]”The willingness … Memorials are simply remembrances that something happened to these people in this place. Which Confederate emblems, the Confederate flag? Confederate-Named Army Bases: There are 10 Army bases in … Sometimes the meanings die off. Allen Guelzo: There are injustices that have been swept behind curtains, and which have to be memorialized if we want to talk about a realistic history. Protesters in Boston damaged the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the African-American Civil War troops featured in the movie Glory. All of that is being very substantially … That story, you can’t go there anymore and not be affected by those stories that are now being told. Can we look to another population of statues to add here? The truth of the matter is that what we know about ourselves from the past informs what we are in the present, and a people who are cut off from their past are a people who have been culturally disfranchised fully as much as those who had the vote taken away. Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images. So what does economics have to say about historical memorialization? Allen Guelzo, Ph.D. History is supposed to include the triumphs as well as the mistakes. The inscription at the bottom is, “To Virginia’s sons.” I haven’t got the words exactly, but it’s to the sons of Virginia, those who were from Virginia and fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. Are there union statues in the south? History is not simply a matter of discovering who was virtuous and who was perfect. Even though there’s a big overlap between the two, over time, monuments are not steady in their meanings. Allen Guelzo: Right. One is that you can’t reverse it. During the aftermath of Brown v. Board, multiple southern state governments put forth an aggressive political resistance to court-ordered integration that persisted for roughly the same period. In terms of memorials, one of the most exciting projects going on right now, which people might want to look into, is the Equal Justice Institute, which is an institute that does many things involving civil rights, and incarceration, and so forth, but one of the projects they started years ago was to document every single known lynching that took place in America from the end of the Civil War up to the 1960s. Is that something that we look back on now with a lot of pride? This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where copyright is otherwise reserved. I think if you keep a scorecard and you say, “Are there things that we should honor these people for? Once you’ve smashed things, they’re gone. The suffering, loss, robbery, the indignity of neglect, these are all parts of our history as well. There’s a lot of debate about that, whether that actually accomplishes what it seems like it might accomplish. On June 3, 1907, a new attraction was unveiled in Richmond: a monument to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America during its … They don’t produce anything. Allen Guelzo: It’s curious to say this, but sometimes ignorance can be a good tonic. Civil War Monuments for Union Troops Image 2. By looking at the history of these monuments we see even more clearly the dangers of ignoring the legacy slavery, the points of our past when reactionary forces gained steam, and more recently some cause for hope. It’s not strictly speaking a monument to Robert E. Lee, although he is the main figure on the top of it. That even extends to Confederate emblems. That’s I think a way that I would choose to situate it. The data nonetheless give us a broader context of how monument construction patterns have evolved over time, including the shifting balances of emphasis on the southern, northern, and abolitionist causes. The Great Courses: And about others. Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant in the spring of 1865 officially ending the war. Allen, your take on that? Angry mobs are tearing down and defacing monuments across America. The wave of mass vandalism quickly spreads to whatever statue happens to be next in line–targets have already included such figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, Theodore Roosevelt, Miguel de Cervantes, and Winston Churchill. A password will be e-mailed to you. They likely reflect a growing sense of commemoration and celebration for figures that were first neglected in the wake of the war, and later vilified as part of the Lost Cause ethos. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within itself, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.”. Baxley, Georgia. Since the 1990s however, a growing movement to commemorate abolitionists through public markers and memorials has taken off. The Great Courses: Absolutely. He expels a student who he finds guilty of that. Sometimes, they’re very generic. What does it mean for a public statue not just to be erected but to be maintained within a public space? A rlington National Cemetery is the hallowed resting place of America’s war dead. If you’re in a state like South Carolina or Virginia, in many places, African-Americans before the Civil War, after the Civil War, in 1890 are if not a majority of the population, near a majority, a substantial percentage. With the current politicization of statues, including multiple high-profile acts of vandalism against abolitionist and anti-slavery figures, it is important to stress this final insight from the data. These discussions are made all the richer by the scholarship of you and Ed. There’s a sense that Southern identity is tied to national identity in a way that can’t be untied. Clear racial overtones enter a second area of the Confederate memorialization debate, and do so in pronounced ways associated with later events of the civil rights movement. Find out what divided the men of the Civil War, and how in many ways they were more alike than different. The long-simmering controversy over Confederate symbolism in the Southern United States has boiled over in the wake of anger over police brutality against African-Americans, obliterating any notion that overcoming America’s tragic past of slavery and segregation is no longer relevant today. What we know about ourselves from the past informs what we are in the present. It “proudly honors” the state’s 3,000 sons in blue and gray “who fought at Gettysburg in defense of the causes they held so dear” and “symbolizes the aftermath of that battle and the war. This time, even abolitionists and other anti-slavery figures have not been spared from the mob’s destruction. At that point you stand back and you say, “Okay, which one is it, or are both trying to impose a meaning on this statue?”. After the election seven Southern states seceded and declared their independence from the Union. Civil War statue-building follows a nearly identical pattern on both sides, and may thus be explained in part as an overture to the same constituencies as the pension recipients. In Philadelphia they damaged a monument to abolitionist Matthias Baldwin. So, can you just give us an overview of how cities ended up erecting Confederate statues after the Civil War? The peak year for the construction of both types was 1911, the beginning of the 50th anniversary of the war. Thank you so much for being willing, for both of you being willing, to discuss this topic with us today. The following transcript has been edited slightly for readability. As statues of Confederate generals have been toppled or ordered down across the American South, all still stand in West Virginia, the only state born out of the American Civil War. I think what both Ed and I are saying is that there are ominous signs in the life of our democracy. Angry mobs are tearing down and defacing monuments across America. Why did Charlottesville happen now? (Note: this chart excludes schools named after Abraham Lincoln, because they vastly outnumber any other Civil War-era figure on account of his popularity as a historical president. Most battlefield monuments, markers, and tablets were erected by veterans specifically for future … One is to tear them down like they did in Durham not long ago. Grant’s not one of the greatest presidents, but Grant’s record in the early years of his administration are very impressive when it comes to pushing for equal rights, pushing for the enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment. 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