They formed the Confederate States of America, even before Lincoln became president on March 4, 1861. Are we entering a time of iconoclasm, or do you think we’re going to enter a dialogue that saves us from that? It was erected in 1917, and there were an interesting set of speeches that were given. People talked about them as symbols of national sacrifice. The problem we are facing today is, how do we understand monuments and memorials without it turning into a kind of cultural iconoclasm which, in a fairly short period of time, we’re very likely to regret? Union monuments substantially outnumber Confederate monuments in total, although the annual number of Confederate statues briefly overtook the Union totals in the cluster of dates around the 1911 anniversary. 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. There are monuments, and then there are memorials. The monument in question, in the clip shown here, is the so-called standing soldier statue, a symbolic monument to local individuals who fought in the Civil War. What do we do now? 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. Another interesting option is to build competing or complementing narrative memorials. It’s a much more complex situation than we sometimes realize. Our politics are very fraught and very fractured at this point, but we also see certain trends taking place in our politics that are pretty alarming and should be alarming to anybody who cares about democracy, that principally being voter suppression efforts taking place. It actually has real power and real meaning in our current circumstances. 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. They don’t pay dividends to people. The first military monument in the US Capitol that honors an African-American soldier is the Confederate monument at Arlington National cemetery. That’s I think a way that I would choose to situate it. Look at a state like Virginia or Georgia. Learn More: 1865: Bind up the Nation’s Wounds. 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. Likely explanations include the northern states being comparatively wealthier after the war and thus able to afford commemorations at earlier points, as well as the country’s coalescing around a reconciliationist narrative of how the war was remembered in the lifetimes of its participants. I think there are other things. Allen Guelzo: It has, indeed. That’s the other question, too. The following transcript has been edited slightly for readability. The Union D u ring the A merican Civil War, the Union was the term used to refer to the United States of America and specifically its national government. A rlington National Cemetery is the hallowed resting place of America’s war dead. By the way, it’s the same Virginia state flag as flies over the Virginia state capitol today. There’s an additional multiplicity in the role of just public statuary art in general, because as Ed pointed out, you have the meaning that’s captured by the content of the statue, or you have the meaning that’s captured by the moment in which it was erected, but you also have the meaning in its persistence and current culture, which is I think part of what we’re grappling with now. The funny thing is, you could actually take a great deal of the careers of both Lee and Grant before the Civil War, there’d be some large interchangeable aspects of their careers. I think the defense of people like Jefferson and Washington, who owned hundreds of slaves between them, and somebody like Robert E. Lee is that Jefferson was not solely defined by slavery, nor was Washington, even though they were complicit in it in a very substantial way. That is a very, very big question, simply because there are so many statue… In South Africa, they’ve taken down many, many of the memorials to the white colonizers that were the forerunners of the apartheid regime. Ed O’Donnell: Yeah, he backs off of that. The slave mart in Charleston, South Carolina is a great example. Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Mary Richardson, Terri Rick, US Civil War Project WikiTree, and Nae X. Allen Guelzo:Right. He expels a student who he finds guilty of that. I mean ignorance in the sense of monuments or locations or statues that have simply lost whatever sting they might have had. The question there, is what’s happening in the 1890s, the early 20th century that prompts people mostly in the South, but not exclusively in the South, to start putting up hundreds and hundreds of these monuments all across the South, some of them generic but some of them quite specific? History is not simply a matter of discovering who was virtuous and who was perfect. Memorials of this type appeared sporadically in the 19th and early 20th century, with the most common examples consisting of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that bear the name of an abolitionist figure or philanthropist. The current debate over taking down Confederate monuments gives me a … Abolition-themed memorials and commemorations appear to be on a clear rise from the early 1990s to the present day. Controversial statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Charlottesville, Virginia. It can and should be sustained, provided that the mob, now haphazardly targeting almost any form of public statuary, does not make those same monuments into additional casualties of iconoclasm. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where copyright is otherwise reserved. It is very hard to start isolating one or two or three specific things or purposes these monuments are supposed to serve. It’s the Virginia state flag. I would say, “Knowing what I know about Robert E. Lee, I’m not really sure that’s what we want to put a statue up for.”, On the other hand, if someone comes to me and says, “Here’s a statue which has been in place since 1924, or since 1917. Ed, what is your take on this? It’s not strictly speaking a monument to Robert E. Lee, although he is the main figure on the top of it. Civil War Monuments for Union Troops Image 2. There are confederate monuments, statues, and memorials in not just the south but in just about ever state. The Main Causes of the Civil War. No, it’s really neither one nor the other. What we know about ourselves from the past informs what we are in the present. A great deal of what I have heard in the controversies centered around Charlottesville and around some of the other Confederate monuments, for instance Monument Avenue in Richmond, really cast these things in ideological terms. Or in the case of Robert E. Lee, to someone who was their long-dead commander, but it really is to themselves and what they went through, years and years, in some cases half a century before. He’s not even thinking about poor white people in many respects. He said, “We have lost. This is a list of Confederate monuments and memorials that were established as public displays and symbols of the Confederate States of America (CSA), Confederate leaders, or Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War. 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. Are there more confederate monuments as opposed to union ones in the country. One of the most prominent Confederate monuments—the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia—is set to be removed by order of Gov. About Kevin D. Williamson June 14, 2020 6:30 AM. The course in public memorialization of anti-slavery figures and events is at long last moving in a positive direction. Thank you so much for being willing, for both of you being willing, to discuss this topic with us today. It’s very curious, because sometimes it means that the ideological origins of these protests don’t really have a whole lot to do with American culture at all. 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