Two Opposite Views on Confederate Monuments

(August 4, 2017) The current issue of Civil War Times contains an article in which a number of authors state their opinions about the future of Confederate monuments. Provided below are two contrasting examples.

First is the summation provided by Megan Kate Nelson who writes the regular “Stereoscope” column for Civil War Monitor.

I [Megan Kate Kelly] would like to propose that Confederate memorials should neither be retained nor removed: They should be destroyed, and their broken pieces left in situ.

On a scheduled day, a city government or university administration would invite citizens to approach a Confederate memorial, take up a cudgel, and swing away. The ruination of the memorial would be a group effort, a way for an entire community to convert a symbol of racism and white supremacy into a symbol of resistance against oppression.

Historians could put up a plaque next to the fragments, explaining the memorial’s history, from its dedication day to the moment of its obliteration. A series of photographs or a YouTube video could record the process of destruction. These textual explanations may be unnecessary, however. Ruins tend to convey their messages eloquently in and of themselves. In this case, the ruins of Confederate memorials in cities across the nation would suggest that while white supre-macists have often made claims to power in American history, those who oppose them can, and will, fight back.

Second is Robert K. Krick who is  Civil War historian whose interest is concentrated in the Eastern Theater.

We live in an age riven by shrill and intemperate voices, from all perspectives and on most topics. No sane person today would embrace, endorse, or tolerate slavery.

A casual observer, readily able to convince himself that he would have behaved similarly in the 1860s, can vault to high moral ground with the greatest of ease. Doing that gratifies the powerful self-righteous strain that runs through all of us, for better or worse. In fact, it leaps far ahead of the Federal politicians (Lincoln among them) who said emphatically that slavery was not the issue, and millions of Northern soldiers who fought, bled, and died in windrows to save the Union—but were noisily offended by mid-war emancipation.

It is impossible to imagine a United States in the current atmosphere that does not include zealots eager to obliterate any culture not precisely their own, destroying monuments in the fashion of Soviets after a purge, and antiquities in the manner of ISIS…On the other hand, a generous proportion of the country now, and always, eschews extremism, and embraces tolerance of others’ cultures and inheritances and beliefs. Such folk will be society’s salvation.


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6 thoughts on “Two Opposite Views on Confederate Monuments

  1. Pingback: Why did Southerners Fight the Civil War? | Civil War Chat

  2. Michael Hutson

    how about we just leave the monuments alone and they can mean whatever to the beholder?to many of us they stand to memorialize the bravery of men defending their homeland.

  3. Bobby Edwards

    Robert Krick who has invested much of his life in the academic scholarship of the great conflict has a unique understanding of the monument building era in the South or North. What many may not be aware of is the attendance of Northern veterans at Southern Monument unveilings and Vice Versa. Pvt. Julian Carr of the 3rd N.C. Cavalry, would have the opportunity as a Commander of United Confederate Veterans to speak at the Monument unveiling of General Grant in front of the Congress building. The monuments to those that died defending Southern homes, families, and communities did so with great passion and belief they were doing right defending their homes from an invasion. What about the Vietnam Memorial? When will these same individuals begin their efforts to remove the monuments and memorials across this land dedicated to the young men who sacrificed all for their country.

    We must remember the real owners of those slaves were the Wall Street bankers, who held the Chattel Bonds on most of the slaves in the South. When cotton crops failed, the New York Bankers sent their agents to collect their property from failed payments and then put them back on the market, where someone took out another collateral loan on the purchased slaves to put in a crop of cotton. In the middle of the war, according to N.Y. Newspapers, N.Y. Court Records, and the records of the British Ambassador recently released, President Lincoln Pardoned four Slave Runners who’s enterprise for the run from Africa to Cuba who had been convicted in trial.

    So, if what goes around comes around, what are you going to do with the Union Monuments in New York?

    1. Phil Leigh Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have often wondered what happened to the loans that were made to finance slave purchases.

      1. abrahamlincolnatgettysburg

        One New York City company cited frequently to support the assertion that New York banks “were the real owners of slaves,” is the Nautilus Insurance Company (a predecessor of the New York Life Insurance Company). It was one of several insurance companies that sold policies to slaveholders to insure their slaves against damages or death. The company sold these policies for approximately two and a half years from 1845 until 1848, at which time the board of trustees voted to end the sale of such policies. Several New York banks weren’t the only financial institutions which wrote insurance policies on slaves or financed the purchase and sale of slaves. Banks throughout the South and overseas in places such as the United Kingdom (where slavery was outlawed) at various periods of time prior to the Civil War did the same. Citizens’ Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana, which only later became part of what is now JP Morgan, served salve owners from the 1830s until the end of the Civil War. Between 1831 and 1865, just those two Louisiana banks accepted approximately 13,000 slaves as collateral and ended up owning about 1,250 slaves as a result of defaulted loans. Slaveholders looked for financing and insurance products wherever they could get it. From where they sourced it probably depended upon the ease of obtaining the loan/insurance, the cost of the service, and the creditworthiness of the institution. Financial institutions had to determine whether their involvment in the slave trade was morally acceptable or repugnant and, if the former, whether it was a sufficiently profitable business. The decision whether or not to engage in such tranasctions was identical regardless of whether the institution was located in the same town as a slave owner or hundreds of miles away in New York City.

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