“Last Capital of the Confederacy” to Remove Flag

There are three narratives that have come to define our Civil War sesquicentennial. They include the story of the black Union soldier, along with emancipation, as the dominant narrative as well as the rise of the Civil War in the West and guerrilla warfare. The last one has to be the steady retreat of Confederate symbols such as the flag and other references in public places. You can’t review the news without coming across an article and it is happening at a steady pace from Virginia to Mississippi.

Throughout the South public institutions are taking steps to remove or move Confederate Battle flags for reasons that are obvious to folks who understand its long history from the Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond. It looks like you will soon be able to add the The Danville (Va) Museum of Fine Arts & History, which is located in the Sutherlin Mansion. The museum flies the Third National Flag above the home. Why does this matter? Well, after the evacuation of Richmond on April 2, 1865 Jefferson Davis and his full cabinet conducted business from this home and is considered by some in the area to be “The Last Capital of the Confederacy.” The museum proposes to only fly the flag on special occasions.

“We believe this plan lays the groundwork for many encouraging and fulfilling years ahead in the arts, culture, humanities, Danville’s history, education facilities, new partnerships, inclusion and community engagement,” said Past Board President Barry Shields.

Seems like all of these stories are about inclusion.

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10 comments… add one
  • Megalodon Mar 16, 2015 @ 10:21

    Wonderful news! Another sign that the South is finally beginning to acknowledge the racial aspect of the Civil War! There are far to many people in the South that deny that the preservation of slavery was one of the biggest reasons behind the Southern leadership’s plan to secede. The Confederate flag is a symbol of that fight to preserve slavery and segregation. This decision is not a sign that we are forgetting the past. In fact, it is a sign that we are acknowledging it. The illusion of the “noble lost cause” is fading, and are eyes are now opening to the truth. Confederate memorials will not be destroyed, however. There were heroes and villains on both sides of the conflict, and the dead deserve to be remembered, regardless of which side they fought on. The same can be said of any war. We are simply choosing to acknowledge the darker aspects of the war and the Confederacy, and taking down the symbols which stand for said aspect. There are reasons for this move, as well. By removing these flags, we are abandoning a long held misconception that all “true Southerners” were in favor of secession. We as Southerners need to stop believing that the Confederacy is essential to Southern identity. Even during the war, there were many people in the south that felt it was wrong to secede. Many of these people actively fought against the Confederacy. Even in Alabama, the state known as the Heart of Dixie, there were men who fought for the Union (2,700 of them to be precise). Does this mean that these men and their families were not true Southerners? No! They deserved to call themselves Southerners just as much as their Confederate neighbors. There is more than one reason the Civil War is said to have divided families. It wasn’t just North vs. South. Southerners were fighting each other. That being said, would it not be disrespectful to these people and their descendants to claim that the Confederate flag is a symbol of the South as a whole? I would say so. That being said, this isn’t a denial of this part of our history by any means. This is merely a triumph of the truth over ignorance. It is a victory not only for civil rights, but also for history and how we perceive it.

    • Valerie Jul 2, 2015 @ 17:13

      Ok I will just say this…..I as a southerner am appalled at what I’m reading here. Erasing history? Removing a flag won’t make any difference to those of us who wre raised as descendants of those confederate veterans that you want to forget.

      • Jimmy Dick Jul 3, 2015 @ 8:26

        No one is erasing history. Getting rid of the lies such as the lost cause is not erasing history. It is removing the lies and revealing the facts. The CBF never stood for southern pride. It was the banner of an army fighting to preserve slavery. Put it in the museum where it belongs.

  • terry Oct 6, 2014 @ 11:31

    I attend ever library book sale I can find. I know I will find many civil war books to purchase. The price usually ranges from $1 to $4 each. I’ve been in libraries from Pennsylvania to Florida, and they are all the same. The libraries are purging their civil war books by the thousands. The hard back books are not replaced with electronic versions. Makes me wonder how long the purging will last, and what happens next. I fear American history is taking a huge hit from which we may not recover.

  • terry Oct 6, 2014 @ 11:18

    The Holocaust has become the greatest instrument of sympathy which any nation has ever been able to use to gain support for wars, expansion and foreign-aid: This has made Israel the world’s sixth strongest military power. The gravest threat to all this wealth and influence is the growing doubt over the question of whether or not a real holocaust of 6 million Jews actually took place.

    Eisenhower wanted to be in as many pictures of the Holocaust as possible to prove the death camps really existed for one day the people will deny this ever happened. Despite his presence in many photographs, Holocaust deniers persist to this day.

    One day I fear of waking up, and not seeing one flag or monument about the WBTS. All the monuments and symbols are gone. What’s to remember? At that point we can began denying the war ever happened, similar to the Holocaust never happened.

    I thought the purpose of history was to remember the past – good and bad. However, we are erasing the past faster than the speed of light.

    I suppose when the Vietnamese immigrants become a sufficient number, they will demand ALL Vietnam Veterans monuments and flags be removed. I’m a history lover first class, and don’t like to see any part of history erased, but I seem to be a minority of one.

  • John Betts Oct 4, 2014 @ 5:10

    I largely agree with removing such symbols from public institutions as much as reasonably possible (I’m thinking mostly of the Miss. state flag and the CBF on South Carolina state capitol grounds), but have to question this one. It’s a museum. One that is associated with the last days of the Confederacy. I don’t think that flying the CSA flag is essential to its mission, yet doing so is also entirely in keeping with it as well.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2014 @ 5:16

      The building does not function only as a museum. As I read the article the concern is that the expansion of programs and the goal of attracting a wider segment of the community will be limited by the presence of the flag. There is a permanent Civil War exhibit inside that tells the story of the home and the city of Danville.

      • John Betts Oct 4, 2014 @ 6:29

        It kind of rankles me a bit since we are talking about a history museum and not state capitol grounds for example, but if they are expanding their focus I suppose I can understand their reasoning.

      • Vincent Puccio Apr 30, 2017 @ 19:29

        Travelers and tourists love history. In particular, they love 😶Civil War history. Danville should promote its historical significance as being the “Last Confederate Capitol”. Where are the road signs, billboards, media promotions? Danville is missing out on a lot of Tourism dollars because of the flag controversy. With the river district revitalization, a sure fire tourist destination is the Last Capitol.

  • Paul Taylor Oct 3, 2014 @ 11:22

    Nor will it stop with flags. I fully expect that monuments to the Confederacy on public grounds (e.g. courthouse lawn statues) will be next. Since they could be rightly construed as historical artifacts, having been erected by the veterans themselves, perhaps they will be moved to some private property. In my opinion though, they will not be allowed to remain on public land, for all the reasons cited above.

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