The History of Confederate Flags at Washington and Lee University
A couple of documents related to the history of the display of Confederate flags at W&L’s Lee Chapel were sent to me earlier today. They detail a history that is much more complicated than what most people are aware of in the wake of the petition by students to have the flags removed. The story involves numerous stakeholders, including W&L, the Museum of the Confederacy and United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The first document is a timeline related to the loaning of flags to the school by the MOC. One of the things that I found interesting is that the display of Confederate flags in the Lee Chapel dates as recently to 1930, which suggests the possibility that no flags flew in the intervening period following Lee’s death.
The second document is an agreement (1997) between W&L and the MOC surrounding eleven Confederate flags that were entrusted to the school. It’s worth reading, especially point no. 4:
Following restoration, W&L shall display the restored Flags, and only the restored flags, on a rotating basis in Lee Chapel where they shall be presented two (2) or three (3) at a time under glass specially designed for the flags.
Perhaps I am wrong, but I don’t believe that the flags currently on display inside the chapel date to the war.
W&L Flag Timeline
W&L/MOC Agreement (2)
These documents raise more questions than answers for me. Hopefully additional documents will be forthcoming to help fill in some of the missing pieces.