Savannah to Makes Changes to Its Confederate Monument

Not that long ago the residents of the city of Savannah voted to maintain their Confederate monument in Forsyth Park without any changes, but yesterday Savannah’s city council voted to adopt changes recommended by its Confederate Memorial Task Force.

Here are the recommendations:

  • Rename it from ‘Confederate Monument’ to ‘Civil War Memorial.’ This “returns to the original intent” of it being a memorial. It also includes all of Savannah’s fallen in the Civil War.
  • Preserve all historical material on the memorial, including the Confederate soldier on top. The Task Force believes this statue represented the “everyman.” They also do not recommend removing historical material, as is a tradition of the city.
  • Install a new bronze plaque on the south side of the memorial, dedicated to “all the dead of the American Civil War.” The former memorial was dedicated to the Confederate dead in 1875.
  • Keep the vertical panel on the south side of the memorial blank so “future generations could add to the monument as they see fit.”
  • Relocated Bartow and McLaws monuments to Laurel Grove North Cemetery where both are buried. The Task Force says these were added years after the memorial was erected and are “distractions from the original.”
  • Once relocated, do not replace the Bartow and McLaws monuments at the memorial site.
  • Preserve the fence around the memorial in its current form
  • Expand the story of the Civil War, both its causes and effects, throughout Savannah outside of the memorial at Forsyth Park.

This is a very interesting development that speaks to the possibility of transforming the meaning of a community’s monument and the landscape on which it is located. It may prove to be a helpful model for other city’s to consider short of removal. The media has tended to focus on those city’s that have removed their monuments, but the vast majority of Confederate monuments, memorials, and markers will remain in place.

Attention will now turn to the question of whether the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge should be changed. Finally, here is a piece I recently wrote about another controversial site in Savannah located in a neighborhood where few tourists visit.

15 comments… add one
  • Thanks for this report, Kevin. I have to say I’m surprised you didn’t report on AG Sessions pronouncement this week (link below). It certainly fits in with this Savannah story. I think it’s a big deal and I would have thought you would too. Thanks for all your good work. TC
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/articles.al.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/ag_jeff_sessions_slavery_not_s.amp

    Reply
    • You need to follow me on twitter @kevinlevin. Thanks.

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      • So you’re saying you did report this on Twitter? OK.
        I guess think it even a bigger deal than the Savannah action and would have expected a report that showed up on Facebook, which is how I see your stuff.
        Carry on. No big deal.

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        • I do have other things to work on beyond the blog. Sorry, but I just can’t get to everything that comes across my news feed. 🙂

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  • This sounds quite reasonable. If the people of Savannah support this, good for them. I like the changes that return the memorial to its original state, I.e. removing later additions.

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  • Thanks for the post. I followed this particular monument for a while last year when the debate raged, but life got in the way. Here is one of the original news posts about the Savannah monument and the debate surrounding it in case you have not seen it.

    http://wsav.com/2017/08/15/local-confederate-monuments-georgia-historical-society-weighs-in/

    I can see many of the issues raised in the news report echoed in the committees decisions in regards to the monument.

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    • What on Earth could have distracted you lately, Rob? Better have been something pretty important. 😉

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      • Well, one would say it was extremely important. 🙂

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  • Once again, another “council” ignored the very polling they themselves requested.
    Once again, the messing with the Monument was not put up to a public referendum.
    And once again, as in Virginia, Alabama, NC, Tenn, and SC, Georgia has laws against moving any Monument to war veterans and war dead.
    Mclaws and Bartow cannot legally be touched. Same in Decatur regardless what wild contortions the Democrats attempt.
    Why do the politicians refuse a public vote?
    Why do politicians ignore the established will of the people?
    Savannah and Baltimore and Memphis and wherever can build whatever they want, just not destroy one set of History and art and grave markers to erect another.

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    • The people can vote them out of office if this is an issue that they feel so strongly about. Of course, if you bothered to read the back story this is not the first time that the Savannah monument has been altered.

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      • I just drove over the Talmadge Bridge last Friday morning; I had no idea about its name or its controversy. Then, we spent the afternoon at The Citadel where my oldest son studied some 17 years ago. The campus has a new memorial dedicated to alumni who died in the service of their country. Not surprisingly, the highest toll was paid during what the school persists in calling the “War Between the States.” (If I recall correctly, Kevin, you and I first met at a Society of Military Historians meeting, held in Charleston and hosted by the The Citadel. I was the panel chair and you were a presenter. I believe Ken Noe was the moderator, and Keith Bohannon also was a presenter. Was it 2004?)

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        • Hi Mark,

          It was indeed. In fact, it was my first academic conference. I believe Ken picked up the lunch bill for the entire party.

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          • It was Nancy’s idea 😉

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            • Of course. 🙂

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  • As usual, the will of the people be damned.

    Reply

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