Restricted "In their own words", contemporary documents on the creation and dedication of Confederate Memorials discussion thread

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Souvenir Unveiling Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Richmond, Virginia May 30, 1894

https://chpn.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/souvenirunveilin00conf.pdf
This is exactly what it says on the cover, a souvenir booklet filled with art, ads, and a history of the monument. The booklet contains also poetry, photographs of those involved, and photos of other monuments.

The Confederate Soldiers' and Sailors Monument Association was organized in December 1887 by five men, and the stated purpose was as follows:

"'Resolved, That we do hereby organize ourselves into an association to be known as ' The Confederate Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument Association.' The object of the Association is to raise money for the erection on Libby' s Hill, in this city, of a Monument to perpetuate the memory and deeds of the Private Soldiers and Sailors of the Confederate States.​

That's pretty straightforward. They went about raising funds and securing the location, and coordinating with the Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans. The design adopted as a model Pompey's Pillar near Alexandria Egypt, and the intention was for each of the 13 States of the CSA to each contribute a block of stone. The entire cost of the monument was nearly $30,000, which was a tremendous amount of money in that era. The work was carried on by the members of the Association, but the funding was a community project. The monument was a tribute to the dead, but also the still-living Confederate veterans.

There are hundreds of persons whose names we cannot record here who will look upon this completed shaft and derive quiet satisfaction from the knowledge they have of their own sacrifices made in order to contribute their share to the upraising of a dignified and enduring monument to the Confederate soldiers who have laid down their lives, and to those also who now await their call to the Great Assembly. The inscriptions on the Monument are purposely brief and simple, but yet comprehensive. Let him who looks upon this shaft seek the history of the men it memoriahzes in the many books which have come from the hearts of those who survived the downfall of their country.​

Robert E. Lee's farewell address to his army is included about halfway through the booklet, along with a photo of the Lee monument in Richmond (and I had no idea how large it was, but there is a man standing at the base which gives an idea of the scale of the Lee memorial.) This is followed by poetry, photos of Jackson and other CS leaders, and some pages of random facts. The drawing of the Great Seal of the Confederate States does not feature George Washington, interestingly, but some other soldier that I don't recognize. I've never seen this version before.

But their memories e'er shall remain for us.​
And their names, bright names, without stain for us;​
The glory they won shall not wane for us,​
In legend and lay​
Our heroes in Gray​
Shall forever live over again for us.​
Yes, I understand it is a big monument that makes those who argue that it should be put in a museum look pretty silly.
 

Paul Yancey

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 13, 2019
Location
Kentucky
A souvenir book of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Association and the unveiling of the monument, Richmond, Va., June 3rd, 1907.
Arr. by Alice M. Tyler.
Jefferson Davis Monument Association.
Richmond, Whittet & Shepperson [1907]

https://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo1.ark:/13960/t1rf69x9t
"Love makes memory eternal"

After a weekend during which this monument (among others) was vandalized, I ran across the souvenir booklet for the unveiling, so it seems appropriate that we take a look at it in search of motive and rationale for the existence of the Jefferson Davis memorial. I'm only going to pull relevant portions from the booklet, but as I try to do any time that I can, I've included a link to the entire book, and I encourage everyone to read and to get the full context of any passages or remarks. And right from the first page, we get the following:

The heroism of Southern women was the inspiration of the matchless bravery of the Southern soldiers. Their hands girded the sash and their hearts fared forth their knights to the field.​
Now, the days of youth for many of these women lie buried on forgotten battle-fields. But in the twilight of their years they have builded: "Love's memorial unto valor that shall stand while time shall bide."​

There is a description of the monument after this, and then a short biography of Jefferson Davis. The book then moves on to a short history of the Jefferson Davis Monument Association. They began the work of fundraising and design and eventually turned the work over to the UDC. The monument cost over $70,000, which amazed me. The booklet then moves on to the program for dedication days (plural) and it appears to have been a massive celebration. No speeches are included in this booklet, and much of the short histories are direct and to the point, but the tone of the whole thing leaves no doubt that this is presented as a labor of love by all involved.

If I can find some of the speeches mentioned in the programme, I will go through them at some point and see what can be learned.
Yes, the souvenir book was a very interesting read. Most people do not understand or appreciate the hard work and perseverance that went into the creation of these monuments. Sadly, many people in our modern society simply don't care.
 

Andersonh1

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Location
South Carolina
Anderson's speech is somewhat prophetic I think when you look around today at the destruction taking place in our country -- "Let it stand for patriotic hope and cheer if a day of national gloom and disaster shall ever dawn upon our country!"

That same line jumped out at me as well, for the same reason.
 

Andersonh1

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@Andersonh1 ,

Would you mind posting what Frederick Douglass had to say about honoring Robert E. Lee?

Thought I would ask first.

Unionblue

His opinion does not really fit the topic of the thread, which is to see what the people who actually commissioned and built the monuments had to say about what they meant and what motivated them. Other opinions about them would belong in other threads. I haven't even posted Booker T. Washington's opinion, and he raised money for a monument, but was not behind the creation of it and cannot speak to the motivation for it's creation.
 
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Andersonh1

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So, his opinion does not matter?

If he helped commission and build a monument, or spoke at a dedication at the invitation of those who did so, his opinion belongs in this thread, so that we can hear the voices of the monument builders in the words they wrote and spoke and left for future generations, like us, and understand what motivated them. This is not a general monument discussion thread.
 
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Andersonh1

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South Carolina
"Confederate memorials in their own words."

Precisely the problem. Words and intent need to be examined.

Words often demonstrate intent. That's the whole point of the thread, so see what the people who had the monuments commissioned and built and who dedicated them had to say about their intentions.
 
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unionblue

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Words often demonstrate intent. That's the whole point of the thread, so see what the people who had the monuments commissioned and built and who dedicated them had to say about their intentions.

I don't believe these words give their full intent when concerning these monuments. Neither do many others at this time.
 

Andersonh1

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I don't believe these words give their full intent when concerning these monuments. Neither do many others at this time.

You should start a thread where you present the evidence that makes you disbelieve them when they state their intentions. This thread is about their words, which I believe provide very strong evidence for their goals and intentions. The whole point of a monument is to communicate a message to present and future generations, so it makes no sense for the builders to say "honor and remember the soldiers" over and over again and to put similar words on the monuments, and yet mean something else entirely.
 

huskerblitz

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Location
Nebraska
Why not take their words for it?

Or do we only take their word for it, if we agree with what they say..?
This seems appropriate:

unionblue said:
"What I know and what you think I know is like trying to describe light to a blind man. You simply do not know what I know, only what you draw from the content of my posts with a dash of personal, predetermined conclusion on your part.
 

unionblue

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You should start a thread where you present the evidence that makes you disbelieve them when they state their intentions. This thread is about their words, which I believe provide very strong evidence for their goals and intentions. The whole point of a monument is to communicate a message to present and future generations, so it makes no sense for the builders to say "honor and remember the soldiers" over and over again and to put similar words on the monuments, and yet mean something else entirely.

No, I don't believe I will, as it has been far too long that such of their "own words" have not been called into question or if their words were really their intent vice the actions of placing such monuments at a particular time and place in history.

Monuments are made and errected for many purposes, not all of them to communicate a message of hope and fairness to all of it's citizens, present and future. Too often it seems to me they say, "sorry we didn't win" or "not to worry, we'll keep things just as they were."

And what are we honoring? A failed attempt to destroy a nation? The failure to keep things as they were? Or are these words merely a justification for failure, an excuse that we were really fighting for one thing but we are embarrassed of the true issue of the day?

Sometimes it just seems like a balm of the mind, a soothing salve over an ugly wound, something that let's all of us sleep at night so we can forget past wrongs.

Guess it depends on how you process the times, past and present, with the words of the past.

Unionblue
 

Viper21

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We should think for ourselves instead of passing out "get out of history free" cards.
Interesting. Seems I've seen the following many times on discussions where the very words of the people were referenced.

Why not take their words for it? Their words are there for anyone to see.
By the rebels themselves at the time.

Isn't it about time we take them at their word?
Why won't you believe them and take them at their word?

I hate to pick but, sure reads like what I said earlier. We can only take their words for it, if it helps our position in discussion. That reads very much to me as, a double standard.
 

Andersonh1

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Why not take their words for it?

Or do we only take their word for it, if we agree with what they say..?

Good point. I can't tell you how many times since I joined this site over four years ago, that I've seen the standard "the words of the Confederates themselves" applied for determining motivation, particularly when it comes to the secession declarations. And yet that standard is not applied to the monument documentation. I think you've correctly identified the reason for the double standard.
 
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