History of Confederate Monuments
After Reconstruction, there was a pro-confederacy movement across the south. In some ways, the rise of the KKK drove the movement. Many local communities across the south erected Confederate monuments to the “heroes” of the confederacy. Local communities made the decisions about the placement of the monuments and paid for them with their tax dollars. They were erected after the wave of revisionist history had distorted the underlying cause of the war none of the monuments mention slavery.
For most of these Confederate monuments, like in New Orleans, there is no historical link to their placement. After the shootings in Charleston, there was an outcry in some communities to remove the monuments. Some communities see these monuments as honoring those who fought to protect slavery. They want the Confederate Monuments removed. Groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans have protested and taken legal action to keep the monuments where they are located.
I also believe in protecting history. The question is, what is the historical significance of the Confederate monument? I believe all monuments, in themselves, are historic and should be protected. The location of the monument is more complicated. If the location of the monument has no direct relation to the monument’s depiction, I don’t believe there is any historical significance. Lee’s Circle in New Orleans had no direct relation to Robert E. Lee. The name comes from the monument being dedicated in 1884 at Tivoli Circle.
Obviously the placement of monuments on battlefields, at homes, grave sites, and other historic sites directly related to a Confederate monument is a totally different discussion, but that isn’t so obvious. Groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans see the location as being historic in itself no matter the location. I think this is short sighted. Many local communities decided on the location of monuments based on visibly at the time and not based on history. In those cases, I think the local community has the right to change their mind.
For those Confederate monument, that have no direct historic link to its location, the discussion and debate should never be about the removal of the monument. Instead the debate should be about where to move the monument. Those Confederate Monuments are of historical value and should be displayed. The question is where to and how to display them to provide a more accurate historical context to the monument. No monument should be moved until that has been decided and the money raised for the new display.