There is no other way to spin what happened this past year as anything other than a complete rejection of the Lost Cause and the belief that Confederate military and political leaders deserve to be honored in our public spaces. The removal of monuments and markers took place across the nation in cities and towns large and small. Confederate heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and even the president of the United States were unable to stem the tide. Here is a recap.

April

  • New Orleans, LA: Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis monuments removed along with monument commemorating Battle of Liberty Place

June

  • Orlando, FLA:  Confederate soldier removed
  • St. Louis, MO: Confederate memorial removed

July

  • Rockville, MD: Confederate soldier removed

August

  • Annapolis, MD: Chief Justice Roger Taney monument removed
  • Austin, TX: Robert E. Lee and Albert S. Johnston monuments removed from campus of UT-Austin
  • Baltimore, MD: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monuments removed along with monument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors and Confederate Women
  • Bradenton, FLA: Confederate soldier removed
  • Brooklyn, NY: Plaques honoring Lee were removed from an episcopal church’s property
  • Daytona Beach FLA: Three markers honoring Confederate soldiers removed
  • Durham, NC: Confederate soldier removed
  • Durham, NC: Duke University removed Robert E. Lee statue from chapel
  • Ellicot City, MD: Confederate soldier memorial removed
  • Franklin, OH: Marker honoring Robert E. Lee removed
  • Frederick, MD: Chief Justice Roger Taney monument removed
  • Gainesville, FLA: Confederate soldier removed
  • Helena, MT: Memorial honoring Confederate soldiers removed
  • Kansas City, MO: Memorial honoring Confederate soldiers removed
  • Lynchburg, VA: Confederate soldier removed from Randolph College campus
  • Madison, WI: Memorial honoring Confederate soldiers removed
  • New York, NY: Busts of Lee and Jackson were removed from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College
  • San Diego, CA: A plaque honoring Jefferson Davis was removed from a downtown park
  • St. Petersburg, FLA: Confederate marker removed
  • West Palm Beach, FLA: Confederate soldier removed
  • Worthington, OH: Confederate marker removed

September

  • Boone County, MO: Confederate soldier memorial removed
  • Dallas, TX: Robert E. Lee monument removed
  • San Antonio, TX: Confederate soldier removed
  • Washington, D.C.: National Cathedral removed stained-glass windows honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson

October

  • Boston, MA: Confederate soldier memorial removed
  • Lexington, KY: John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckenridge monuments removed

December

  • Memphis, TN: Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest monuments removed

The events this past week in Memphis suggest that we have yet to see the last Confederate monument removed. Those of you in the classroom who are currently or hope to teach this ongoing controversy should consult my #CivilWarMemorySyllabus for resources.

I suspect that many people across the country feel as does this 63-yr. old retired nurse who was interviewed as the Forrest monument was removed in Memphis: “I feel a sense of relief. Finally, we can come down and really enjoy this park. And we don’t have to see something that reminds us of our painful past: the lynchings, and beatings, and the selling of our forefathers.”

In the end, that is what this is all about.

About Kevin Levin

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Looking for more Civil War content? Join the Civil War Memory Facebook group and follow me on Twitter. Check out my book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, which is an ideal introduction to the subject of Civil War memory and the 1864 battle.

49 comments add yours

  1. Mostly liberal cities ripping them down. And, even better, some under cover of night under questionable legal pretenses.

    Man, you gotta one up them “Deplorables” eh?

      • Your assertion is false, that “the removal of Confederate monuments represents “a complete rejection of the Lost Cause and the belief that Confederate military and political leaders deserve to be honored in our public spaces.” Polls in the states and cities where the monuments were removed indicate the majority did not want the monuments removed. Your smug feeling of self-righteousness regarding the South’s fight for independence is no doubt based on the very fake Northern Myth that the North fought to “free the slaves” when in fact, they despised blacks. Their goal was one of conquest and subjugation, to preserve Lincoln’s tax base and prevent the failure of Northern businesses who depended on high tariffs and Southern staples. My position is clear: if the Southern soldiers and leaders do not deserve an honored place in American history, then you can keep “America” and i will hope for a future secession of the Southern states.

        • So you are saying that the Civil War was caused by a tariff put in place by politicians from the South? I find that anyone who says the Civil War was caused by the tariff to be a person who doesn’t know their history.

    • So “liberal” cities don’t get to decide what monuments they want in their public spaces? Or does democracy mean making only the decisions you agree with?
      “Deplorable” is a pretty mild term for people who openly celebrate and promote racism, misogyny and homophobia. And that has nothing whatever to do with communities, including church congregations, making decisions democratically. It’s the deplorables who are running cars into people and beating them with pipes.

    • The statues got removed in the middle of the night to protect the removal crews from the violent white supremacists and nazis who consider these confederate dirt bags to be heroes.

  2. There’s definitely been a shift in some of the rhetoric and messaging coming from some of the heritage shouters. Before it was, we will defy you and this will not pass. Since New Orleans, though, there has been more along the lines of we will put them back eventually and their noble memory cannot ever be erased. That is a different message, and I think it’s a tacit acknowledgment that efforts to preserve those monuments in place have simply not been very effective. It’s an important, if subtle, change.

    • I agree. In the case of one of the removals it was the UDC that lead the effort. I wonder if the UDC and SCV would have more success in relocating if they led the call for removal to a more appropriate place such as a cemetery.

      • I have long believed that in at least some of these cases some sort of accommodation could be achieved that would be acceptable to both parties. An example of that might have been the flag at the Sutherlin Mansion in Danville, that before its removal in 2015 flew year-round at the site. Now it’s gone completely. A good-faith effort to reach an accommodation might have prevented that outcome.

        But all the incentives for the Confederate Heritage™ folks are to be defiant, uncompromising, and to prove to their fellows that they are more unreconstructed than the other guy. The idea that they’re trying to educate the general public sway broader public opinion is simply ludicrous. So instead of working in a constructive way, they demand nothing less than complete and total victory, and very often they lose completely as a result.

        • It just occurred to me why this sounded familiar: The heritage folks are repeating/applying the same losing strategy as the CSA did during the Civil War — all or nothing. In keeping with history, they will end up with nothing just like their ancestors.

    • Kev, the removal of monuments shows just how deeply this country has sunk into intolerant leftism. IT’s not the United States of America, anymore, despite keeping the name. Can YOU explain why the screechers– I mean, preachers of tolerance are always the ones removing stuff? People are tearing down and replacing not just historic artifacts but fundamentals that made this country great. Leftism is diabolical. It destroys. And when the change is complete, the people who are bringing this about will be the ones who regret it most… Merry Christmas!

  3. I once thought that those who write about the Civil War would have a special interest in preserving both sides of the history. Boy was I wrong about that one.

    • it’s not “preserving one side” (eye roll). It’s deciding that hey, maybe these are NOT men that our community wants to honor. There is a difference between “remembering history” and honoring someone with a memorial.

    • I am not calling for the removal of any monuments. I have said from the beginning that it is up to each community to make these decision.

      • I’ve always thought of the monuments as works of art. I hate to see art destroyed, no matter the source. I understand Italy is having the same problem with their many sculptures. Where will all this hate end?

        • It will end where it ends, but to refer to this as “hate” seems just a bit self serving.

          • Yes, I guess I do have a self serving emotion in all this. I hate to see the destruction of art. That statute of Forrest was a beautiful work of art I thought. What sort of an emotion does an individual have to take down a work of art of such magnificent beauty?

            • Are you really arguing that artistic merit should preserve any statue, no matter how hateful the subject or how much the community in which it’s located finds it inappropriate?

  4. Taney wasn’t Confederate.
    Durham was “removed” illegally,
    by self professed communists and those thankfully were arrested for felonies.
    Reckon you are good with that whole situation.
    None of the removals were by public vote or citizen mandate.
    Costing between $7 mil and $15 mil for removals since 2016 and a current death count of 5 people – 3 of which are tied directly to the racist Wes Bellamy in Charlottesville.
    Why are you not mentioning the other issues like Christopher Columbus, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, etc? The same people who are removing statues and symbols of imperfect people refuse to accept Jesus Christ.
    Hypocrisy much?

      • Let this be shown here that Levin tolerates violent communists. As long as they support the “right causes” or destroy the “right statues”.

    • I don’t recall ‘Christopher Columbus, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington’ taking up arms against the united states…

  5. Just to echo what Gary Waltrip said above, out of the 20 opinion polls I’ve seen this year, 19 favor keeping Confederate monuments where they are. Sometimes with context added, sometimes without. And yet we’ve seen a number removed. There is a disconnect here, and I suspect that as usual, what we’re actually seeing is small groups of activists and some left wing politicians taking down Confederate monuments against the will of the majority in these communiteis. I see no evidence for a mass community demand to remove them anywhere. Quite the opposite.

    • …what we’re actually seeing is small groups of activists and some left wing politicians taking down Confederate monuments against the will of the majority in these communiteis.

      That’s a pretty self-serving analysis, which you are certainly entitled to believe.

    • The closest I’ve seen (other than non-scientific local tv polls) is this, in which questions about the monuments are part of a larger poll about the governor’s race. But it’s just on the Republican side, so it’s one party, not the entire Tennessee or Memphis population: http://tennesseestar.com/2017/12/21/poll-diane-black-opens-up-10-point-lead-over-randy-boyd-in-race-for-tennessee-gop-gubernatorial-nomination/

      “6. Oppose the removal of Civil War monuments honoring Confederate soldiers and Generals: 64 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the removal of these monuments, while 26 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the removal of these monuments.
      The poll of 1,028 Tennessee Republican likely primary voters was conducted between December 12 and December 18 for The Tennessee Star by Triton Research using IVR technology (automated phone response), and has a 3.1 percent margin of error.

      The respondents were balanced between the three regions of Tennessee according to recent Republican primary voting behavior: 34 percent from East Tennessee, 39 percent from Middle Tennessee, and 27 percent from West Tennessee.”

      • I am still not sure why polls are important. If people in specific communities feel strongly one way or the other they have the opportunity to get involved. If they choose not to than they effectively make themselves irrelevant to the process.

        • Ultimately the only polls that matter are election results. The heritage community has chosen to make the removal of the monuments an election issue at the local, state, and even national level. In the races where the monuments have been major issues, they’ve pretty well lost the majority of those races. This has been going on now for several years and the monuments keep coming down. That speaks pretty loudly regarding polls in my opinion.

          • I completely agree. How one responds to a specific question on this issue tells us very little about how they feel or what they are willing to do to defend the position. I suspect that most people who are polled and who express misgivings move on without any consequence.

            • Polls are important in that while we can claim all day long that the will of the community is being expressed, the truth is that the only way to genuinely know that is to ask them.

        • Kevin Levin says:

          DECEMBER 23, 2017 AT 12:49 PM

          I am not calling for the removal of any monuments. I have said from the beginning that it is up to each community to make these decision
          &

          DECEMBER 28, 2017 AT 3:33 AM

          I am still not sure why polls are important. If people in specific communities feel strongly one way or the other they have the opportunity to get involved.

          Again, “people” or “citizens” have never ever been allowed a vote on any Confederate Monument, name, or symbol removal. It only initiated from one or two on a city council or mayor. In the rare case some “Commission” was created, it was a stacked deck to rubber stamp the dictates of the Commission creator.
          Wynton Marsalis got Mitch Landrieu to do his bidding. Kristen Szakos got Wes Bellamy to do her bidding and he is responsible for 3 deaths. Walter Bailey got Jim Strickland to do his bidding. Workers World people in Durham. There has yet to be any vote on the issue put to the people.
          You claim to champion the wishes of the community, but each and every community hasn’t spoken at the voting booth. Why? Because the overwhelming majority of voters have expressed to it’s leaders the only avenue available to them – via polls – that we don’t want monuments removed.
          It isn’t rocket science

          • Every citizen has the right to push for change in their respective community.

            It isn’t rocket science.

          • Looks like the elections in New Orleans were all about the removal of Confederate monuments and that those in favor of removing them were thrown out of office…..NOT.
            https://ballotpedia.org/Mayoral_election_in_New_Orleans,_Louisiana_(2017)
            You may note that Frank Scurlock not only did not win the mayoral race, he didn’t even make the runoff vote.

            In Virginia the voters decided the issue by rejecting a gubernatorial candidate who ran on that issue.

            In Alabama’s senate race, the man who championed keeping confederate monuments lost.

            In Lexington, Virginia the removal of the CBF and the ensuing boycott of the town by a group that claims it represents the will of the people of the state failed to result in anyone losing an election over the issue or boycott.

            As for Charlottesville, the racists are directly responsible for deaths there.

            Speaking of Charlottesville, let’s look at the election results there. Let’s see…David Toscano was the representative for the 57th District which includes Charlottesville. He is a Democrat and won his election…no one ran against him.

            I do believe RISE Charlottesville is still trying to get enough signatures on a petition to remove all of the city council members. The two newest members of the Charlottesville City Council didn’t run on the issue of confederate monuments according to the news articles. So once again, the election results show us just where this issue stands and how people are responding.

            You can develop some conclusions over this.
            1. This is a major issue and the elections will result in the removal of those who try to remove confederate monuments….This conclusion is totally unsupported by the actual results of the elections.

            2. This is a major issue and the elections will result in the public validating the officials involved in removing the confederate monuments. Hard to say since removing confederate monuments doesn’t seem to be a campaign issue in most of the elections. But then again, most of the officials involved do not seem to be losing their positions.

            3. This is not a major issue and it is not affecting political races on a large scale.

            I think it is pretty easy to understand why more of the monuments will be coming down.

            • Still the point. Mostly liberal blue state (Virginia), very liberal city (New Orleans), an an otherwise poor GOP candidate (Alabama).

              Just to make it clear. If these same races were happening in much of North Carolina, Georgia, rural Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi or Texas the results would be the polar opposite of what you angrily try to beat your chest with.

            • Here’s South Carolina’s election results for the 2016 elections for the state House of Representatives. https://ballotpedia.org/South_Carolina_House_of_Representatives_elections,_2016

              As you can see, incumbents won pretty much all of their races. I don’t think I would call South Carolina a liberal, blue state.

              So your claim is as false as the alias you hide behind.

              Say goodbye to some more monuments to traitors in the coming year!

              In other words, Happy New Year!

            • Jimmy wrote:

              “This is not a major issue and it is not affecting political races on a large scale.”

              Just look at the Lexington mayor’s race in 2012 — the Virginia Flaggers pushed hard to defeat Mimi Elrod in her re-election bid as mayor, in response to the city’s 2011 flag ordinance. Elrod ran against her previous opponent from 2008, who was also the one city council member who had voted to retain the flags. As far as I can tell from a distance, NEITHER candidate ran on that issue, and it was only of importance to a handful of local Confederate heritage folks and the outside agitators from the Virginia Flaggers. Elord not only won re-election, but did so with a bigger share of the vote than she’d received against the same opponent the first time.

              So no, I don’t think Confederate monuments is a top level issue for most voters on the state and local level; things that have a more direct impact on their lives (tax rates, zoning, good schools, pothole repair) are almost always the things that drive voters.

  6. The assertion that these monuments are being “destroyed”, “erased”, “ripped-down” is over-blown, exaggerated and incorrect. They are simply being moved from tax-payer supported public property to a more appropriate place like museums and graveyards. Those who wish to revere them can still go to that private property and continue their veneration unimpeded. As an African-American I object to my tax-dollars being used to maintain a monument to men whose “cause” was to keep my ancestors enslaved. What is being completely over-looked by monument defenders, is that these men committed treason against the United States and are responsible for the deaths of more Americans than all of her external enemies combined. Indeed if they had won, there would be no United States. No Confederate flags or monuments belong on United States public property anywhere. The US Army paid for that honor exclusively for the stars and stripes with their blood.

  7. Kevin,
    Keep up the fantastic work. You’re correct that we’re witnessing a sea change in how the American public confronts their difficult past regarding slavery and the Civil War Era. But I’m less optimistic that 2017 witnessed “a complete rejection of the Lost Cause and the belief that Confederate military and political leaders deserve to be honored in our public spaces.” I’m a history graduate student, Army officer, and a docent/researcher of a former sugar plantation. Daily, almost without exception, I encounter guests (mostly older but some younger) whose assumptions of plantation life, slavery, and the Civil War are entirely informed by Lost Cause mythology. It’s a difficult nut to crack. No doubt, plantation tourism helps to reinforce those assumptions. But we’re doing more on our end to present counter-narratives, convey the realities of slavery, and offer more balanced interpretations.
    In my experience, a “go-to” argument that many of the public monuments’ defenders use is that these statues simply honor military sacrifice. But if this is the case, why are there no major monuments to Confederate leaders like James Longstreet or John S. Mosby? I can’t help but feel that this argument lacks a solid foundation. Thanks for taking my question.

  8. I am interested in seeing how this movement challenges the way that Americans memorialize and commemorate the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, or other Civil War era (Native American) conflicts. I find an interesting correlation to Lost Cause and the way that white anti-Indian Americans celebrate their victory over the native population in Minnesota. While they relocated, their people still remain alive and active, yet the White population celebrate their defeat. Just an interesting question I hope to delve into soon. Thoughts?

  9. The monuments should stay where they are. These people (Lee, Jackson, Forrest and others) fought for their states as empowered by their people. They deserve to be remembered. Our society evolved into more equal and diverse one which offers opportunity for growth to all. White or European settlers should not be blamed for slavery which had its roots in Africa. As of now, there is slavery in Libya (http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-42546065/starved-beaten-enslaved), Daesh is selling Yazidi women in many neighboring countries. There was no slavery in Europe and is none in the countries governed by the Europeans/White people after1865.So lets stop destroying and falsifying our history.

  10. I suggest that the people most upset about the removal of those few monuments should support putting up some new ones.

    How about an equestrian statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman at least one every mile from Atlanta to the Sea? On the land of a “Heritage” lover, at their expense?

  11. Do you not agree though that there is a substantial difference between the removal of the Taney statue, which you included above and the removal of Confederate monuments?

    I support the removal of Confederate monuments, of course, but if it were my jurisdiction, I do not think that I would have agreed with the removal of the Taney statue at the Maryland State House. At least, I have serious reservations about it.

Now that you've read the post, share your thoughts.