Vanderbilt Pretends

In 1935 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) constructed Confederate Memorial Hall as a residence for girls at Nashville’s Peabody College. Originally residents who were descendants of Confederate veterans and agreed to become teachers were granted free room and board. The school and dormitory were acquired by Vanderbilt University in 1979. Earlier this month university chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, announced that the name “Confederate” will be sandblasted off of the building.

Ironically, it is unlikely that Zeppos would be paid anything close to his $2.2 million salary except for the Confederate sympathies of Cornelius’s second wife, Frank Crawford Vanderbilt, and the contributions of countless Confederate descendants over the years. It is equally unlikely that any of the school’s prominent graduates—including Board of Trust members— would have even attended the university.

Frank Vanderbilt

Through the husband of one of her cousins, the Mobile, Alabama native persuaded the Commodore to donate $1 million to fund the university in 1873. Among the few who attended their wedding was a former Attorney General of the Confederacy and a former Confederate lieutenant general. Six years earlier the Commodore was among several prominent Northerners who posted bail for the prison release of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Removal of the residence hall name signals the death of the spirit of reconciliation the Commodore himself advocated when writing that his donation was intended to “contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country.” Erasing symbols of Frank’s love for her fellow Confederates as well as the contributions of their descendants and the UDC to the school’s progress is cultural genocide and actually promotes diversity intolerance. It pretends that none of the above happened.

Zeppos was appointed by the Board of Trust, whose members are listed here.

Fox sports announcer, Clay Travis, is one Vandy graduate who is objecting to the sandblasting. Consequently, the Jack Daniels distillery has revoked a modest advertising contract with him.  The distillery is owned by Brown-Forman.

Mr. Garvin Brown IV
Board Chairman
Brown-Forman Distillery
850 Dixie Highway
Louisville, Kentucky 40210-1038


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12 thoughts on “Vanderbilt Pretends

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      It may not ever stop, but I hope exposure to the silliness of it all would eventually turn the trend around.

  1. Michael Bradley

    I am a Vanderbilt doctoral graduate. On the campus is the grave of Bishop Holland McTyere, one of the founders of the university. In the 1850’s Biship McTyere wrote numerous editorials in The Methodist Advocate in which he argued that slavery was of divine origin and was part of God’s plan to bring Christianity to Africans. The university places a wreath on the Bishop’s grave every Founders Day. There is also a residence hall named for McTyere.

    The first chancellor of the university was Landon Garland, former Commandant of Cadets at the University of Alabama. Garland led these cadets in battle six times during the Civil War. Garland Hall on Vanderbilt’s campus is named for this Confederate officer.

    Captain Ed Baxter, C.S.A., later Judge Baxter, founded the Vanderbilt Law School.

    Lt. Col, David C. Kelley, member of Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, was Sect. of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust for 30 years.

    If the university is going to eradicate its Confederate ties it should do a thorough job of it by moving graves, renaming many other buildings, and changing the minutes of its governing board.

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      Regrettably, the school may follow-up on the points mentioned in you last paragraph. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Steve Murphree

    The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville published 3 letters about Vanderbilt’s poor decision today; 2 of them were from out of state. Here is the letter I submitted in case the opinion editor has chosen not to publish it:
    “Vanderbilt Pays Big to Erase History” should be the headline. Though it has taken them 11 years since an appellate court ruled in favor of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Vanderbilt’s senior leadership have finally chosen to pay the 1.2 million dollars ($109,091 per letter) to remove the word “Confederate” from its Confederate Memorial Hall. Chancellor Zeppos and other Vanderbilt administrators talk about diversity and inclusion, but consider who they are excluding by this action: students like my daughter with three Confederate ancestors whom Vanderbilt has been actively recruiting for its 2017 freshman class. For that matter, are those incoming freshmen who are said to be deeply offended by the word “Confederate” really representative of the high caliber students that Vanderbilt desires? Prior to the above-mentioned 2005 court decision, the Tennessean published my letter in which, if the name was changed, I promised to whistle “Dixie” as I walked past Confederate Memorial Hall on my way to Vanderbilt’s libraries – that promise is still good.

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      Vanderbilt is like a lot of colleges these days. They’re for every kind of diversity expect opinion diversity.

  3. Linda Ellington

    It is so amazing to me, there are so many who still fear something which happened over 150 years ago. They can continue to try to erase this from history but the fact will remain the same. This war happened between the states, the north won and the south was for ever changed. But the south will not forget no matter how hard they try to erase it from history.

    1. Eve Davenport Holder

      Amen Ma’am! A word does not hurt. People hurt people. Time for this generation of crybabies to grow up. Even Zappos needs to put on his big boy pants. Vandy was at one time a class act. Now they are overrun with babies. If you cannot live in the adult world, go home. Live in your parent’s basement.
      The real world owes you nothing.


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