By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved
Confederate President Jefferson Davis is memorialized in monuments at various locations in the South. They have now come under fire, with demands that some be removed from public grounds.
In New Orleans, the Remove Racist Images coalition and others have called for the removal of statues from city properties honoring Davis, as well as Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard. The city’s Monuments Commission has voted to remove them from public grounds and has been supported by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
In March 2015, the student government of the University of Texas at Austin voted to have the university remove the status of Davis from the South Mall of the campus. There are also statues on the campus honoring Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee and Albert Sydney Johnston.
None of these monuments have yet been removed. In Frankfurt, Kentucky, a group of 72 Kentucky historians called for the removal of the Davis statue from the rotunda of the state’s capitol building. Davis was born in Kentucky (as was Abraham Lincoln). In August 2015, the Kentucky Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted 7-2 against removal of the Davis statue.
Three of the most famous Davis monuments are probably unlikely to be removed. On June 3, 1907, his statue joined the statues of Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart (later joined by Stonewall Jackson) on Monument Avenue in Richmond, capital of the Confederacy. Davis rides along with Lee and Jackson on the face of Stone Mountain, Georgia (outside Atlanta). And, in 1931, his statue was installed as a representative of the state of Mississippi in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol.
The protests against the continuing presence of Confederate leaders, including Jefferson Davis, will undoubtedly continue because of their association with the defense of slavery championed by the Confederacy which they served. Their defenders will also continue to defend their presence as historical figures.
CNN.com video: “New Orleans’ mayor wants Confederate monuments removed.”
The Campaign Against the Confederate Battle Flag
The Confederate Battle Flag, Personal License Plates, and Litigation
Some Thoughts on the Removal of Southern Civil War-Related Symbols