When a Monument To John C. Calhoun Was Torn Down

Calls to take down the Confederate flag battle flag have quickly extended to monuments to the Confederacy, most of which dot local court houses, parks, and other public spaces. Many have been vandalized with the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter”. The only city that has moved to take down a Confederate monument is Birmingham, Alabama, which did so last night. Other cities, including Baltimore, Memphis, and St. Louis will take up the issue in the coming days and weeks.

My position has remained consistent on the removal of Confederate monuments. Others like Karen Cox, Ethan Kytle and Blain Roberts have staked out their positions, which are well worth reading. Although I tend to resist removal I do not believe that monuments are timeless. Certainly, few Americans take issue with the symbolic gesture surrounding the pulling down of a statue to King George III at the very birth of our Revolution. No collective act more powerfully signaled a break with the past in 1776 short of war?

One of the monuments recently vandalized stands in honor of John C. Calhoun in Charleston’s Marion Park. Calhoun was one of the architects of the pro-slavery argument and worked tirelessly for its future on the floor of the Senate right up until his death during the emotional debates that culminated in the Compromise of 1850. Should his monument be removed as a symbolic gesture of moving forward as a nation?

Many of you might be surprised to hear that this is the second monument to Calhoun located on Marion Square, the first one having been removed – torn down by the very people who erected it. Thomas J. Brown includes an insightful chapter in his book, Civil War Canon: Sites of Confederate Memory in South Carolina, which explores the story of the Ladies Calhoun Monument Association and their efforts to erect a monument to Calhoun beginning in the 1850s.

For the purposes of this blog post I will not go into great detail.  The Calhoun monument was finally unveiled in 1887, but almost immediately came under criticism by blacks and whites:

The unfinished monument was unveiled on April 26, 1887, and Charleston’s residents quickly dubbed the statue, “Calhoun and his wife” [a Gullah reference according to Thomas Brown]. The ladies association from the beginning were dissatisfied with the final result. Calhoun’s pose and his Prince Albert Coat were inappropriate. His right index finger which pointed in a different direction than the others (a habit peculiar to him in speeches) was exaggerated to the point of deformity. The final objection was most telling-the female figure’s disheveled appearance.

According to Brown, African Americans “undermined the monument with sarcasm.” Interestingly, the monument also spawned rumors that Calhoun was the father of Abraham Lincoln.

The Ladies immediately took action by commissioning a new monument paid for, in part, by the liquidation of the bronze figures on the original structure. The new monument was completed and dedicated in 1896.

I am not suggesting that this story sets a precedent for tearing down any Confederate monuments. Perceptions of the first Calhoun monument proved to be a sufficient justification for its removal in 1887. My point for now is that we at least need to move beyond viewing these monuments as timeless. The meaning of these structures are constantly evolving.

These decisions will be made by the residents of each community as to whether these monuments are to be torn down or moved to a different location. Ultimately, the debate will be about whether these monuments, and the sites on which they rest, do or can be made to reflect the current values of each community.

51 thoughts on “When a Monument To John C. Calhoun Was Torn Down

  1. James Harrigan

    These decisions will be made by the residents of each community as to whether these monuments are to be torn down or moved to a different location.
    Unfortunately, this is not true in Virginia – the local community is forbidden to do anything to existing war monuments (emphasis mine):

    “Code of Virginia § 15.2-1812. Memorials for war veterans.

    A locality may, within the geographical limits of the locality, authorize and permit the erection of monuments or memorials for any war or conflict, or for any engagement of such war or conflict, to include the following monuments or memorials: Algonquin (1622), French and Indian (1754-1763), Revolutionary (1775-1783), War of 1812 (1812-1815), Mexican (1846-1848), Confederate or Union monuments or memorials of the War Between the States (1861-1865), Spanish-American (1898), World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941-1945), Korean (1950-1953), Vietnam (1965-1973), Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm (1990-1991), Global War on Terrorism (2000- ), Operation Enduring Freedom (2001- ), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003- ). If such are erected, it shall be unlawful for the authorities of the locality, or any other person or persons, to disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials so erected, or to prevent its citizens from taking proper measures and exercising proper means for the protection, preservation and care of same. For purposes of this section, “disturb or interfere with” includes removal of, damaging or defacing monuments or memorials, or, in the case of the War Between the States, the placement of Union markings or monuments on previously designated Confederate memorials or the placement of Confederate markings or monuments on previously designated Union memorials.

    I’d love to know the legislative history behind this. My conjecture is that it is intended to prevent the black-majority city of Richmond from exercising any control over the statues on Monument Avenue, that ultimate celebration of the Lost Cause and the restoration of white supremacy.

    Reply
    1. woodrowfan

      “the placement of Union markings or monuments on previously designated Confederate memorials”

      so if I hang a US flag on a statue of Lee I am “defacing” it???

      Reply
    2. Jimmy Dick

      Isn’t it always interesting how some groups of people whine and snivel about the lack of local control when they do not have political power, but once they have it use that power to deny local control to others?

      Reply
  2. Annette Jackson

    Kevin, I am in agreement with you on the flag issue and the monuments. I think the money that it would take for the removal and relocation could be better spent on education and the environment, or other causes. I was alarmed by two things today…one: a CNN poll that indicated the majority of white Americans view the Confederate flag (I am using it in the generic sense) as heritage, and not a racist symbol. Republicans and those with less than a college education were those most supportive of the flag, but even those with a college degree saw it in a favorable light by a slim margin, and that was a total shock to me .Two, as a member of the ACLU, I am always on the lookout for free speech issues. I was watching a report on C-SPAN this morning which was an analysis of the Supreme Court term..an ACLU lawyer brought up an issue dealing with the Texas license plate decision. Texas had denied the specialty plate for the SCV on the grounds that it was offensive to many people, but the same day approved a special plate to the Buffalo Soldiers despite opposition from Native American groups who found a plate glorifying the U.S. Cavalry offensive. That reminds me of cases where states wanted to grant plates to pro-life groups but not to pro-choice, etc. Aye, Chihuahua! Does this never end?

    Reply
      1. Robert Hile

        In reading some of what you have said and as my little Southern brain can grasp, I followed your thinking as Northern Schools publish facts, and Southern School publish trash, because they don’t agree with your ideas on things. How nice of you. Just because this fact doesn’t agree with your views, you toss it out. How lucky that most of the people who read your stuff is northerners who will agree with you. My people/family came to his country before the Rev. and frankly those who came to the North were not the good people we wanted them to be. They had slavery, they were two faced, and they were short sighted. All of which continues to this very day. They would say, ” I came here to worship like I want to worship since they will not let me do that in Europe, but anyone who follows will have to worship the way I tell them to do.” So much for us having freedom of worship and religion. As an example, but then that is only one example, and you look down on such, even though it covers most of New England and the view of the people there.

        Jefferson Davis in a speech to the people of Richmond said that “We are not fighting for slavery but for independence, that or to be wiped out.” ( my phrasing.) Yet I am told by your thinking that just because it is only the President of the Confederate States, and only one person that it has no real value to add to history or to YOUR view of what went on. Your blinders are showing. It is real, it is fact, and your going to have to admit that you do not have the corner on “Truth.” That is something between what the South says, and what you say. And there is no Neo-Confederate here. I am a Texan, a Southerner, and only a citizen of the United States because of the bayonet in my back. Thank you very much.

        And if you like being called a cracker, honky, whitey, or any other racist term the Black man throws at you, then since we whites are no longer the majority, you might want to claim racism. Let’s see if they will allow affirmative action for whites. I have Black friends and they think that most of this is a side show for the real problems of the country. I agree, but part of the problem is that your views blame the Black for the war, which caused racism to grow as it did. The Black codes of the north became the Jim Crow of the South after the War. You know it, and yet you don’t address your own racism. All the race riots in this country have been in the Union States! Chicago in 1940, Detroit in 1968, St. Louis in 67?, just to name a few. You guys are bigger racist than the South. FBI records of early 1990’s show one Northern State of having more civil rights violations than the complete South. The Skin Heads come from a Northern State, the state with the largest KKK members was in the North, Norman Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazis Party was out of Chicago. And we got a problem down here. Get a life.

        one last thing…..They complain about the flag, while at the same time there are pictures of Afro-Americans wiping their backsides with the US Flag. The same flag that few over 80 years of slavery, the same flag that burned, looted, murdered, raped it’s way across the South, the same flag that broke up to 400 treaties with the natives of this land, and the same flag that marched with the rest of the imperialistic world into China during the Boxer Rebellion. You can not put yesterday from today or tomorrow. They are connected and as such are related. You can not be selective with the facts, they all count, and to do so, is the worst type of acts by tyrants.

        I am not trying to cover the sins of slavery in the land, but I will not set here and keep getting slapped in the face by hypocrites. Your side is involved in the slave trade up til 1880. Lowell, Mass. consumed 300,000 bales of cotton a year before the war without one word of who picked it. Your leader was a racist, and leading General a slave owner. So take down the statue of Lincoln and Grant. How does that feel? Good, if it is good for me for the taking down of Lee, then that should be good for you as well. What? shoe feeling tight?

        Reply
        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          Mr. Hile,

          Thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t get the sense that you’ve read much of this blog. That said, I do hope you feel better having aired your grievances.

          Reply
  3. Pat Young

    The chapter in Brown is interesting. The white community was not sure if that wanted to honor Calhoun the secessionist or Calhoun the U.S. nationalist. Was he more like Jeff Davis or Henry Clay?

    The book also points out that the statue was the victim of physical abuse from the start. Rotten tomatoes anyone?

    Reply
  4. Ethan Kytle

    Thanks for bringing up this topic, Kevin. In the book that Blain and I are writing about the memory of slavery in Charleston, we devote a whole chapter to city’s many memorials to Calhoun and how local blacks (and others) responded to them. Our work builds off Tom Brown’s fine exploration of this topic.

    Both Calhoun monuments were indeed frequently defaced by black Charlestonians. And, according to the Charleston News and Courier, not long after the first monument was unveiled in 1887 “a Philadelphia crank” wrote the Ladies Calhoun Monument Association (LCMA) predicting that it would “very soon be blown up or mutilated.” It is also worth noting that black oral tradition in Charleston holds that the repeated acts of vandalism were the reason that the LCMA decided to replaced the first statue with the much taller second. The LCMA, however, never mentioned vandalism–or black ridicule for that matter–in its official explanations of the change.

    Reply
  5. kew100

    Tennessee has a similar piece of legislation. Whatever brought it about, I do know that Memphis attempted to change the names of their parks before it took effect. The current attempts to move Nathan Bedford Forrest from “Health Sciences Park” will run into this…

    http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/29455212/ordinance-to-remove-nathan-bedford-forrest-being-drafted

    HB 553 Historical Sites and Preservation – As enacted, enacts the “Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013.” – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 5; Title 6; Title 7 and Title 12.
    “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, or plaque which has
    been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, U.S.-Mexican War, the War Between the States, Spanish American War, the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada),
    Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War I), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Persian Gulf War II), and is located on public property, may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed. “

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      The Memphis City Council was going to change the name of Forrest Park, so the heritage crowd rushed through legislation in Nashville that would bar such a change. In order to preserve their autonomy to make decisions, then, the city council changed the name of all three parks linked to the Confederacy before the state law took effect. Unintended consequences and all that. Jimmy is right — the heritage crowd isn’t a bit opposed to heavy-handed government intervention in what should be local affairs when it suits their case.

      As for the efforts to move Nathan Bedford Forrest, there’s a good case to be made for returning him to Elmwood Cemetery, where he rested quietly for three decades before the creation and dedication of Forrest Park. And if all relevant parties could be brought on board, then getting enabling legislation passed at the state level would probably be pretty straightforward.

      Reply
      1. kew100

        Andy, Good to see you again (we interacted on Ta Nehisi’s blog), and as always, great information.

        The park is referred to on the governmental web site and on the TV news as Health Sciences Park. The name change was challenged but upheld late last year, I believe. But there is an appeal. Google gives Forrest Park in the “pop-up” but Health Sciences on the map layer. Such fun!

        And I am not surprised that Forrest Park is so “new”. I hope they are successful at putting him back.

        Karen

        Reply
        1. Andy Hall

          Good to see you, too. Forrest needs to be back at Elmwood. There’s a reason his statue’s bronze gaze has been fixed on that cemetery for over a hundred years now.

          Reply
  6. kew100

    Tennessee seems to have a nearly identical piece of legislation.

    HB 553 Historical Sites and Preservation – As enacted, enacts the “Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013.” – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 5; Title 6; Title 7 and Title 12.
    “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, or plaque which has
    been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, U.S.-Mexican War, the War Between the States, Spanish American War, the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada),
    Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War I), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Persian Gulf War II), and is located on public property, may be relocated, removed, altered, renamed, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed. “

    Reply
    1. Boyd Harris

      The comma was the best thing about the vandalism. I’ll support petty acts of crime if the punctuation is correct.

      Reply
  7. Will Hickox

    Interestingly, Calhoun’s grave in Charleston was vandalized in 1865 according to northern traveler Sidney Andrews in “The South Since the War” (1866). He assumes it was done by souvenir hunters:

    Down in the churchyard of St. Philip’s, one of the richest and most aristocratic of churches in this proud city, is a grave which every stranger is curious to see. There are only the four plain panelled brick walls about three feet high, and on them a mottled white marble slab, some nine feet by four in size. At the head of the grave is a single sickly ten-foot-high magnolia tree. At each corner of the foot is a sprawling and tangled damask rose-bush, and about midway on the right there is also a small white rose-bush. All around the little plat is a border of myrtle, sweet in its rich greenness, but untrimmed and broken and goat-eaten. It is the grave of the father of the Rebellion, and on the marble slab there is cut the one word, —

    “CALHOUN.”

    This churchyard symbolizes the city of Charleston. Children and goats crawl through a convenient hole in the front wall, and play at will among the sunken graves and broken tombstones. There is everywhere a wealth of offal and garbage and beef-bones. A mangy cur was slinking among the stones, and I found a hole three feet deep which he had dug at the foot of one of the graves. Children were quarrelling for flowers over one of the more recent mounds. The whole yard is grown up to weeds and brush, and the place is desolate and dreary as it well can be; more desolate because cruel hands have broken away the corners of the great marble slab of Calhoun, — for mementos, I suppose. Time was when South Carolina guarded this grave as a holy spot. Now it lies in ruin with her chief city. When Northern life shall rebuild and revivify that city, let us pray it may also set chaste and simple beauty around this grave; for there is no need to wish the brave but bad spirit of Calhoun greater punishment than it must have in seeing the woe and waste and mourning which the war has brought the region he loved so well.

    Reply
  8. Laqueesha

    Interesting. I find it of note that a lot of the Confederate monuments went up in the early twentieth century, coinciding with the rise of Jim Crow and segregation. I suspect this is no mere coincidence.

    Reply
  9. Bruce Vail

    In Baltimore, the current flag controversy threatens to open a pandora’s box of debate over Confederate iconography.

    A recent proposal to re-name the city’s Robert E. Lee Park to something less controversial seems to have been greeted with general approval. There is no actual historical link between Lee and the park, an old water department property that holds one of the city’s first pubic reservoirs. It is literally cheap symbolism as the only cost involved in re-naming would be replacing the sign at the main entrance.

    But the flag debate is igniting new talk about other simmering issues of symbolism. For example, there is a fine double equestrian statue of Lee and Jackson displayed in a public park near the Baltimore Museum of Art. Again, there is no historic connection between that site and either of the Confederate generals, and its erection there in 1948 appears to be nothing more than a bland recognition of the pro-Confederate sympathies of a lot of city’s political leaders of the day. This statue, and the Lee-Jackson Day demonstration/ceremonies by the SCV and UDC, has sparked periodic protests in the past. New calls for the statue’s removal came this week.

    And this leads inevitably to mention of the prominent statue of Roger Taney in the city’s Mt. Vernon Park.
    Why is this statue here? Why are we honoring Taney? For some of the African-American citizens of this city the statue appears to be nothing more than a calculated insult, as no one remembers Taney for anything other than his infamous decision in the Dred Scott case.

    Next on the list of symbolic grievances is the state song “Maryland, My Maryland.” This pro-Confederate song (which I have never heard sung in public in the 20 years I’ve lived here) famously celebrates the “patriotic gore” of the 1861 riot where pro-Confederate Baltimore citizens attacked union troops. Complaints about this song are heard pretty regularly, but the they are ignored by the state legislature.

    Our mayor has proposed a commission to study these issues, so I guess we will be hearing a lot more of this debate in the next couple of years

    Reply
    1. Annette Jackson

      Bruce, I worked in Baltimore and go up there from time to time from Virginia (go Ravens and Oriels) and did not know about the Taney statue. I suspect it is because of his association with Francis Scott Key and family. .

      Reply
    2. Annette Jackson

      I tried to post this earlier..was the statue of Taney perhaps erected due to his association with the family of Francis Scott Key? I am just guessing, as I wouldn’t want a statue of him anywhere near me!

      Reply
      1. Bruce Vail

        I don’t know the details of the installation of the statue but am going to look into it for a future post here.

        Reply
  10. Marian Latimer

    There is a rather large and in my opinion, if not taking into account the meaning, attractive piece of sculpture on one of the main drags here in Salisbury, NC. Now there is a movement afoot apparently to take it down, but the closest thing online I can find at this hour is this:

    http://www.salisburypost.com/2015/07/03/salisbury-police-chief-no-more-demonstrations-at-confederate-monument/

    I’m not on board with this. What has started out as something meaningful has become a free for all. They are having a fit in Charlotte over a monument the size of a gravestone. Please.

    Reply
  11. Annette Jackson

    I am not sure why my comment on the Taney statue in Baltimore wasn’t approved. All I wrote was that perhaps it was placed there as a result of Taney’s association with Francis Scott Key.

    Reply
  12. Rosieo

    Reading about the monuments got me thinking about that Jacques Brel song, “The Statue,” which gives a killed soldier’s point of view on being memoralized… Not thrilled, to put it mildly…. But then if you know Brel this is no surprise…
    Brel’s dead soldier faces truths about himself…
    What about one who warred for a slave holding republic? Who can say, huh? It is a fanticiful idea, thoughts of a ghost haunting a statue of himself, that’s for sure.
    http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/jacques_brel_is_alive_and_well_and_living_in_paris_soundtrack/the_statue-lyrics-77257.html

    Reply
    1. Sherree

      Great song, Rosieo! Thanks for posting. It reminded me of “Joe Hill”, (the version I knew was by Joan Baez) It is fair to say, I think, that “Joe Hill” is a song about a ghost haunting a dream of himself. The line in the song spoken by the “ghost” that I like most is, “…it takes more than guns to kill a man………….”

      It takes more than guns to kill a dream, too.

      The only song I knew by Brel was “ne me quitte pas”. Also a great song.

      Reply
  13. Sherree

    Okay, I will ask the obvious, Kevin: is this vandalism, protest art (as in, in your face Calhoun, sir) or an act of civil disobedience?

    I think that Bree Newsome’s rather respectful taking down of the Confederate flag can be seen as an act of civil disobedience. She staged her protest, then peacefully accepted the consequences. But she made a powerful statement.

    We don’t know the motives of the author of “Calhoun, racist”, but we can guess. I would not go so far as to call this an act of civil disobedience; it seems that it is more an act of sheer frustration. It is an act of frustration with flair, however, sir, imo, so well done on that level. The word “racist” can be painted over. The sentiment and history behind it cannot.

    The debate seems to be correctly focused on why the “vandal” felt compelled to commit his or her act of “vandalism”, rather than on the “vandalism” itself. This can all go in the other direction, however, and just become destruction for the sake of destruction, then all meaning is lost, as a commenter above has noted. So far that has not happened in the wake of the Charleston massacre. That is remarkable in itself and can be attributed to the wise leadership of Emanuel AME.

    Christopher Hitchens said, in an old interview in which he was debating William Buckley, that at one point in his activism, he realized that Dr. King’s ideas were the true revolutionary ideas. Indeed. We are seeing that in action. Again.

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      Your question is directed at Kevin, but I’ll reply as well.

      Tagging Confederate monuments (or any other) is vandalism, not civil disobedience. It causes physical damage to property that needs to be repaired/cleaned.

      Civil disobedience requires the public, non-violent breaking of a law that the actor believes is unjust or unethical. It also requires the actor to be willing to face arrest and the subsequent consequences. That’s not the case with the taggers. As you suggest, Bree Newsome understood what she was doing, and made a very public and deliberate gesture. The taggers aren’t doing that.

      Reply
  14. Sherree

    Thanks for your reply, Andy.

    I don’t think that the tagging of monuments is an act of civil disobedience, either, since the tagger is not even present, just the results of his or her tagging, thus, why I posed the idea as a question. I do think, however, that this particular defacement of a Confederate monument is not necessarily vandalism. It can be seen as a form of protest that, apparently, has a history to it.

    On the other hand, if this turns out to be just a prank, then it is vandalism.

    I like your idea about the Forrest statue. That is the best suggestion I have heard to date.

    Reply
  15. Andy Hall

    Vandalism and protest aren’t mutually exclusive, for sure. I shoulda’ said. But sitting at the lunch counter, and getting arrested for it, is probably more effective than smashing the counters and the soda fountain.

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      Re: the Forrest statue, when I first saw the mayor’s proposal, I thought, “buckle up, here we go.” But several folks on Civil War Talk who know Forrest’s history well — and are neither apologists nor deniers of the uglier side of the man’s history — made the case that the mistake was moving him and Mrs. Forrest out of Elmwood in the first place was a mistake. I liked that idea; it’s different way to look at the situation.

      Reply
    2. Sherree

      Agreed. But that would take a concerted effort, which may not be necessary. Time will tell. The best argument against tagging monuments sporadically would seem to be, at least to me, that the person doing the tagging runs the risk of being arrested without the media present.

      Tagging monuments is not respectful, but neither is this towering statue of Calhoun.

      Reply
  16. Sherree

    Andy,

    I am not certain that my reply to you concerning the tagging of monuments followed your comment, but I think it is clear that I was responding to what you said.

    On the Forrest statue: yes, that is the way to do it. If the statue had not been moved in the first place, we might not have issues with it now.

    That is the problem with all things Confederate: since we didn’t deal with the real reasons that the CW was fought in 1865, we refought that war in 1965, and now again in 2015. I truly hope that this is the third and final act.

    Reply
  17. Patrick Jennings

    With reference to the opening comments about the Virginia Code, I did a little research. It is not as nefarious as some would like to imagine. The first mention of protections monuments and memorials comes in 1950. Prior to that, Virginia Code only mentioned confederates to note that they would not recognize debts of the rebellious state and to note that rebel soldiers were not covered under tax protection laws extended to other wounded or poor veterans. The same code only mentions war and wars with reference to how the commonwealth will react to such a crisis.

    In 1950 Virginia, along with several other states, were reacting to the recent creation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, formally established through the Act of Congress when President Harry S. Truman signed the legislation in 1949. While the Trust pushed toward becoming a land and real estate owning group like UKs Royal trust, they pushed states to enact laws to protect lesser site – especially historic cemeteries and monuments. That specific section of the code is linked to other sections of 15.2 that prohibit, for example, the destruction of headstones and outline the care or disinterment of abandoned cemeteries. Keep in mind, this is not at the height of Jim Crow or the Civil Rights Movement but at the nexus of rapid transportation growth and modernization.

    By tracking the code from 1950 forward all one can find is the addition of wars and minor grammar changes. Interestingly, there was an effort to extend this law to cover religious symbols on war memorials at the national level that failed. Many of you might remember the dust ups over a WWI monuments shaped like crosses. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/4/humanists-fight-remove-cross-shaped-world-war-i-me/ and… http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126375825

    Reply
  18. Rosieo

    What’s become of you, Mr. Levin?
    Europe still?
    Cant wait to read about what you’ve had so much time to think about.

    Reply
  19. Chris Evans

    Walt Whitman had a interesting thing to say about ‘Calhoun’s real Monument’ from ‘Specimen Days’:
    “‘N one of the hospital tents for special cases, as I sat to-day tending a new amputation, I heard a couple of neighboring soldiers talking to each other from their cots. One down with fever, but improving, had come up belated from Charleston not long before. The other was what we now call an “old veteran,” (i. e., he was a Connecticut youth, probably of less than the age of twenty-five years, the four last of which he had spent in active service in the war in all parts of the country.) The two were chatting of one thing and another. The fever soldier spoke of John C. Calhoun’s monument, which he had seen, and was describing it. The veteran said: “I have seen Calhoun’s monument. That you saw is not the real monument. But I have seen it. It is the desolated, ruined south; nearly the whole generation of young men between seventeen and thirty destroyed or maim’d; all the old families used up—the rich impoverish’d, the plantations cover’d with weeds, the slaves unloos’d and become the masters, and the name of southerner blacken’d with every shame—all that is Calhoun’s real monument.’

    Chris

    Reply
  20. Julian

    I’m sorry if this offends, it was Paul Theroux (I think) who suggested there was a special kind of cruelty and insanity to massacre penguins, when they were majestic, unaggressive and anthropomorphic, standing openly and trusting before the aggressor, there is a point at which damaging an artwork for whatever religious or political exigency or belief also takes on some of that aggressive insanity … it is what is routinely decried in Isis and the Taliban … non-destructive civil disobedience, “counter monuments” as are often found in Europe, public debate yes fine … but editing the public sphere by direct action in lieu of extensive consultation is itself a form of cultural terror that matches as much as combats the aggressive public presence of extremists … objects of aesthetic and community significance should be respected by all

    Reply
  21. Anthony Parisi

    Monuments are histories, Why the governments allowing to distorting, or demolish it. There should be a strong Federal and states laws to protect them and maintaining their originality. History should never be cancelled, We should remember that the nations that cancel the past doesn’t have a future.

    Reply
  22. Dan Coody

    As a college student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tx., in the 70’s I would go to a beautiful pasture surrounded by woods a few miles outside the town. There was, and probably still is, a small family cemetery there (around 20 grave markers, some with Calhoun names) with a central, substantial monument to John C. Calhoun that recalled his time in Washington, D.C., and a brief history of his history as Sectretary of State, among other things. This has to be the same man. I read about his “moving grave site” and wonder how this Texas location came to be?

    Reply

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