- In the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice, protesters are calling for the removal of Confederate statues across the country.
- There are 775 Confederate monuments and statues in public places in the US, according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
- Business Insider identified some of the most common Confederate figures in history commemorated on public soil.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As nationwide protests against racial injustice sweep the country, local governments and protesters are removing monuments and statues that celebrate and commemorate slave-owners and Confederate figures.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida, recently removed a statue of a Confederate soldier from the city’s Hemming Park ahead of a planned protest near the monument, according to the Florida Times-Union. Louisville, Kentucky, took down the John Breckenridge Castleman monument, a statue of a Confederate soldier in the heart of downtown, CNN reported.
In Alexandria, Virginia, a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier named “Appomattox” was removed last week, according to the local CBS affiliate. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters defaced the statue of of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham in the city’s Monroe Park, and then used ropes to pull it down, Vox reported.
The last time there was this level of removal of Confederate monuments was in 2017, in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, when three people died after white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and members of the alt-right descended on the college town for a protest.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre reported in February 2019 that there are some 775 Confederate symbols displayed in public spaces throughout the country. The US is dotted with parks, military forts, fountains, and roads bearing the names of men who chose to secede from the Union and form the Confederate States of America. The list does not include Confederate symbols featured in graveyards, battlefields, or on private property.
Business Insider took note of Confederate figures who are commemorated with more than one statue, monument, memorial, bust on public land, or name of a public square, according to the SPLC. Some of the statues on the SPLC’s list may have already been removed by this time.
Here are the backgrounds of the men whose statues are now at the heart of a nationwide controversy.
Robert E. Lee: 223 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Despite being the commander of the Confederate States Army, Lee himself was opposed to Confederate monuments.
ABC reports that, after the war, Lee himself “resisted efforts to build Confederate monuments in his honour and instead wanted the nation to move on from the Civil War.”
After losing the war, Lee became an icon in the North and South alike, thanks to the Lost Cause ideology. White Southerners, many of them former Confederate generals, developed this nostalgic view of the Confederacy in the postwar climate.
As a result, Lee has been venerated since the Civil War. His decision to support a slave state has been minimized. Despite some major military blunders, he is remembered as a military genius.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee along Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis: 148 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Before the Civil War, Davis served in Congress and worked as President Franklin Pierce’s War Secretary. He resigned in 1861 and became president of the Confederate States the following year.
Despite initially being popular in the South, Confederate losses and Davis’ government’s ineffectiveness quickly eroded public good will, according to the Civil War Trust. By the time Davis was captured by the Union, his popularity in the South had tanked.
However, the Lost Cause ideology ultimately adopted Davis as a central figure. This post-war ideology served to erase slavery and celebrate the Confederate cause as heroic.
Years after the war, Davis published a book – “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” – defending the Confederacy. The book endeared him to Confederate proponents and improved his image.
Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson: 110 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
For adherents to the Lost Cause, “Stonewall” Jackson is an important figure.
He remains one of the most famous Confederate generals to this day. He was one of the South’s best tactical commanders and became a “military celebrity” in his own time, according to the Civil War Trust. His death, due to a pneumonia contracted after being injured by friendly fire, hurt Confederate morale.
Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard: 57 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was a Louisiana-born author, politician, and prominent general for the Confederacy. He ordered the first shots of the Civil War during the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861, according to History.com. After the war Beauregard worked as a railroad director and as a supervisor for the Louisiana Lottery.
J.E.B. Stuart: 49 statues, busts, and monuments on public land
James Ewell Brown Stuart served in the US army before resigning to fight for the Confederacy. He developed a reputation for being a “master of reconnaissance missions,” according to the Civil War Trust.
He was mortally wounded in the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864.
Because Stuart’s cavalry failed to report on Union troop movements in the days leading up to the crucial Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point in the war where Union soldiers stopped Lee’s invasion of the North, proponents of the Lost Cause have often lambasted him as contributing to the Confederacy’s loss.
Nathan Bedford Forrest: 43 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Not only was Nathan Bedford Forrest a prominent Confederate general – he was also a high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, which he helped found after the Civil War.
The Tennessee native also perpetuated a massacre at Fort Pillow in 1864. After capturing the fort, Forrest’s men executed numerous African American troops after they had surrendered.According to the American Battlefield Trust, a charitable organisation that preserves battlefields, “‘Remember Fort Pillow’ became a rallying-cry for African American soldiers throughout the Union Army.”
On June 9, 2020, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee voted against evicting a statue of the former Grand Wizard from the state’s Capitol, WBIR reported. That statue has resided in the state building since the 1970s.
Wade Hampton III: 16 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Wade Hampton III, who lived from 1818-1902, was a South Carolina plantation slave owner, a politician, and a Confederate general during the Civil War. During the Reconstruction era, he led South Carolina in the fight to restore white supremacy, and he pushed systematic efforts to prevent Black people from voting.
Joseph Wheeler: 15 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Known as “Fighting Joe,” this Georgia native served as a general for the Confederacy during the Civil War and a general for the US in the subsequent Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.
According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, he went on to serve in Congress.
John Bell Hood: 14 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
John Bell Hood grew up the son of a wealthy slaveholding physician. Rather than follow in his father’s footsteps, Hood instead went to West Point. He became a US military officer who rapidly climbed the ranks to become a Confederate general during the Civil War.
Braxton Bragg: 13 statues, busts, monuments, and place names
Braxton Bragg, a graduate of West Point, was a general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He was known for his short temper, according to historians. After serving as a general, Bragg served as military advisor to Jefferson Davis, an American politician who served as the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865.