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

unionblue

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Interesting. Seems I've seen the following many times on discussions where the very words of the people were referenced.





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.

@Viper21 ,

Pick all you want old friend, but when view words in context, from the period we all love to study and discuss and then leap forward to another time with other words, I believe the context changes just a tad. To simply read the words without the context of the times of their placement, I feel one does not get the whole story nor is it presented with historical accuracy or intent.

To me, the men and women who spoke during the war were more honest with their words. After the war, in order to take the sting out of defeat and to try and maintain a social order they were more comfortable with, they created speeches to comfort and reinforce a way of life.

If there is a double standard, I feel that is where it may be found.

Unionblue
 

unionblue

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Then you've given your opinion, and without evidence that's all it is. If you change your mind and would like to offer documented reasons why we should not take these people at their word, I'll be happy to read that evidence.

Yes, I given an opinion on the theory presented in this thread that all these monuments and the speeches dedicated to them is not as plain as it seems, that actions, not the easy, comforting words spoken of, were not directed nor intended for all people at the time and that those monuments are now being judged by those who were given no say in their being built nor agreed with the motivation to erect them.

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.

Nor can that standard be applied to Confederate monuments built after decades after a Civil War.

As I have said to @Viper21 , In my view, a society, confident in it's strength and desire to form a slaveholding republic, made no bones about what brought about the Civil War. In their confidence, they said it loud and clear that slavery was their goal.

Fast forward to years after the war, and the meaning of that conflict must be given cover and yet some justification for why so many died. Those people cannot say out loud that "We were right and blacks need to be forever our slaves." No, a more subtle, gentler, yet clear signal be given that the slaveholding South was right, Confederate dead can be honored for their now newly disguised reasons for destroying a nation and all blacks had better keep their heads down and correct because WE are still in charge.

Context of the times sometimes dictates the words chosen and the meanings given.

Unionblue
 

rebracer

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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.

We have also recently been told on this site that even the words spoken at the time do not matter because the soldiers had no choice.

I have asked before if all of this is about white supremacy and racism and the monuments were erected by racists, why would they hide this? Would they not be proud to proclaim this?

Take for example the Battle of Liberty Place Monument we used to have here in New Orleans it explicitly stated pro-white wording, they did not try to hide this. While this is a monument to a Reconstruction era event it is still valid as it went up at the same time as monuments to the war.

How can there possibly be a racial connotation to a simple soldiers memorial that states "To our Dead"? If one chooses to apply that idea to an object that is their problem not mine.

The words collected in this thread are from people long dead any supposition on what they may have really meant is just that unless you have the power to retroactively go back and read peoples thoughts.
 

Andersonh1

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We've had a number of comments on the "In their own words" thread recently, and in order to keep discussion on that thread limited so it can focus primarily on period documentation of what the monument builders had to say instead of what we have to say, I've started this discussion thread. Feel free to discuss any document posted on that thread, or monument builders motivations in general. I would still prefer to keep the discussion here about the history and documents and not really delve into modern monument politics, though the offhand reference is fine. There are other threads to discuss that topic in more depth.

Please find the original thread here: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/in...d-dedication-of-confederate-memorials.168979/
 

Andersonh1

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We have also recently been told on this site that even the words spoken at the time do not matter because the soldiers had no choice.

I have asked before if all of this is about white supremacy and racism and the monuments were erected by racists, why would they hide this? Would they not be proud to proclaim this?

Take for example the Battle of Liberty Place Monument we used to have here in New Orleans it explicitly stated pro-white wording, they did not try to hide this. While this is a monument to a Reconstruction era event it is still valid as it went up at the same time as monuments to the war.

How can there possibly be a racial connotation to a simple soldiers memorial that states "To our Dead"? If one chooses to apply that idea to an object that is their problem not mine.

The words collected in this thread are from people long dead any supposition on what they may have really meant is just that unless you have the power to retroactively go back and read peoples thoughts.

Agreed, I see no reason not to take them at their word. They weren't speaking in code, and the monuments were erected precisely because they wanted to send a message to future generations, i.e. us. They put what they wanted to say on the monuments, and they said it in their documents and in their dedication speeches.
 
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rebracer

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I see nothing in the post from Andersonh1 that is restricting discussion on this subject. A blanket statement that we must reject what people said or wrote as secret racist code language certainly restricts discussion though.

What is neat about this Site is that one is able to start their own thread on whatever subject they wish and set the parameters of discussion accordingly.
 

Pete Longstreet

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"Sometimes a spade is just a spade."
- Shane Anderson

Sometimes it's literally that simple. Because if you think about it... anyone can twist anything to fit their narrative, give credit, prove, disprove.... it all depends on the way its spun. People tearing down these monuments are fueled by emotion. I've learned it's very hard to reason or get that person to listen to facts, once the emotion takes over.
 

unionblue

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"Sometimes a spade is just a spade."
- Shane Anderson

Sometimes it's literally that simple. Because if you think about it... anyone can twist anything to fit their narrative, give credit, prove, disprove.... it all depends on the way its spun. People tearing down these monuments are fueled by emotion. I've learned it's very hard to reason or get that person to listen to facts, once the emotion takes over.
I would say emotion is just as big a problem for those who wish EVERY monument to remain untouched and unaltered.
 

Pete Longstreet

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I would say emotion is just as big a problem for those who wish EVERY monument to remain untouched and unaltered.
You could make that argument, sure. We have to realize times are changing. But that doesn't mean the history of the Confederate soldier should be erased. There needs to be a compromise to ease some of the tension on both sides.
 

PapaReb

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You could make that argument, sure. We have to realize times are changing. But that doesn't mean the history of the Confederate soldier should be erased. There needs to be a compromise to ease some of the tension on both sides.
That was the sentiment that I maintained until recently. At this point, I fear the time or opportunity for compromise may have passed.
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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That was the sentiment that I maintained until recently. At this point, I fear the time or opportunity for compromise may have passed.
The only way to start a compromise on this issue, in my opinion, is for the pro-confederate side to admit that the southern states rebelled to protect slavery, that southerners who took up arms were traitors to America, and that they were traitors for one of the worst causes in human history(as General Grant said).

But if they admit all that the question then becomes...why do you want to keep these monuments?
 

19thGeorgia

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The only way to start a compromise on this issue, in my opinion, is for the pro-confederate side to admit that the southern states rebelled to protect slavery, that southerners who took up arms were traitors to America, and that they were traitors for one of the worst causes in human history(as General Grant said).

But if they admit all that the question then becomes...why do you want to keep these monuments?
/\ This is why there can be no compromise.
 

unionblue

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From the Confederate Veteran Magazine, discussion about why a monument to Jefferson Davis needs to be built in Richmond.

View attachment 395596
View attachment 395597
The newspaper article is exactly why Davis should NOT have a statue in Richmond, as it does nothing to list the true cause of which Davis involved himself in treason and rebellion.

Unionblue
 

Viper21

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/\ This is why there can be no compromise.
Nail on the head. There is no compromise.

I like to defer to some words of a fellow poster, "Why don't we just take their word for it...?" I was taken by that comment the first time I heard it. Still am. However, I've been puzzled by it's selective use. It appears to only apply when used to describe comments that back up one side of the debate.

Many of the dedication speeches, & actual inscriptions on monuments, clearly define why they were erected. The majority of them, to honor the dead. Monuments to sons, fathers, brothers, & friends, that were never seen again. In lots of cases, families that never even got to bury their loved one.

Lots of these speeches, & inscriptions back up my assertion. Yet, it doesn't matter to the removal crowd. When presented with that evidence, the goal posts are again moved, & we defer back to causation of the war, political events/speeches surrounding the war, etc.
The removal crowd is certainly, "winning" this fight at the moment. As a result, we'll all lose in the long run. Many of the unintended consequences are easy to forecast. I wanna puke when folks from the removal crowd use words like, compromise, unity, inclusive, etc. Hollow words. It leads to the obvious question, do these folks even know the definition of these words..? As I've heard many times, words matter. I think lots of folks should invest in a dictionary.
 

GwilymT

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Few of the early (while veterans were still alive) monument dedication speeches I’ve read get into the cause or causes. Some may mention things like “died for their cause”, even less refer to a “just cause” or go into any detail. Most seem to concentrate on reconciliation. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t speeches out there that discuss the CSA cause in terms of race, slavery, secession, etc., it’s just that rehashing those issues weren’t at the forefront of the dedication speeches themselves in most cases I’ve seen. Reconciliation seems to be the overarching theme of the early dedications.

I haven’t read many of the later speeches (those dedicated post 1930/40) but I would imagine there would be more racially tinged language and anti federal government sentiment in those- especially when moving into the time of the civil rights movement.

I also think it is important, not only in monument dedication speeches, to understand the speaker. When a fire-eating secessionist would refer to “protecting institutions” or protecting “states rights” there’s no imaginational leap necessary to understand the institution and ‘right’ they were referring to for either us or their contemporary audience. The same would apply to language used by a segregationist politician dedicating a monument during the civil rights movement- the “states rights” they were referring to wasn’t some abstract political theory but rather the ‘right’ to continue lawful Jim Crow discrimination and white supremacy.
 
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GwilymT

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Dedication Speech of the Lauderdale County Confederate Monument by Dr. A H Moody, 1903:

“And yet another message has that pure white figure [the monument] for us, a message more wonderful and of higher import than all the rest. In this our southland flows the purest Anglo-Saxon blood that pulses in any human veins. Isolation, a lack of immigration, fastidious taste and public opinion all have conspired to produce this result. In the Northern states public opinion leans in the opposite direction.”

“ Their [northern] civilization differs from ours in one essential that creates an impassable barrier. They look upon a Negro as a white man with a colored skin and believe education to be the one thing needful. We of the south know better. No other people know him so well or love him so well, but nowhere here is he accorded social equality. When the highest representative of Northern civilization invites the highest representative of negro civilization to sit at his table as his social equal, he digs a gulf between us too wide and deep for us to go to them or for them to come to us. Into the form of man God breathed the breath of eternal life and he became a living soul, so separate from the manlike forms around them that when the children of Adam, sons of God by virtue of that miraculous inspiration, saw that the daughters of men were fair and married them, he sent a deluge that destroyed the mongrel race. We are the sons of God. Let no second deluge be brought upon the world on our account. United Daughters of the Confederacy, into your fair hands your Creator has placed the power to prevent this degradation. Let no man, be he as learned as Socrates or as rich as Croesus, cross your threshold if he has bartered away this right. To you, fair daughters of the Confederacy, we return our thanks for what you have done and are doing for us and for the South. We old veterans appreciate every word, every smile. We need your encouragement and affection: we want it, and believe it will never be lacking. We shall never forget this day. When at last we all have gone to the final bivouac and the angel Gabriel announces your approach, our ranks will crown to welcome you and remind you of Florence when the monument was unveiled.”

https://msnha.oncell.com/en/confederate-monument-190334.html

The sentiment and purpose of this particular monument seems pretty clear to me.
 

GwilymT

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Here is the dedication to the confederate monument in Cornelius NC:

https://archive.org/details/idealconfederate00burw/page/n5/mode/2up

While the speaker clearly states that the “ideal” NC CSA Soldier was defending the institution of slavery he offers the caveat that this was by force of circumstance rather than willing advocacy (an oft discussed theme on these boards- the speaker would agree with @unionblue on this front).

The speaker then goes on to state that “love of race - his race” is a distinguishing characteristic of the “ideal” NC CSA soldier and how they will always be brave “to protect from taint the Saxon blood that courses in your [their] veins.”



Just a note: I’m beginning to notice that battlefield monument dedications by actual veterans groups tend to be heavy on reconciliation, reminiscences, and soldierly virtue while the dedications to public monuments by groups like the UDC given by politicians tend to stress race, white supremacy, and the justness of the confederate cause. We’ll see if this holds up.
 
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BuckeyeWarrior

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Dedication Speech of the Lauderdale County Confederate Monument by Dr. A H Moody, 1903:

“And yet another message has that pure white figure [the monument] for us, a message more wonderful and of higher import than all the rest. In this our southland flows the purest Anglo-Saxon blood that pulses in any human veins. Isolation, a lack of immigration, fastidious taste and public opinion all have conspired to produce this result. In the Northern states public opinion leans in the opposite direction.”

“ Their [northern] civilization differs from ours in one essential that creates an impassable barrier. They look upon a Negro as a white man with a colored skin and believe education to be the one thing needful. We of the south know better. No other people know him so well or love him so well, but nowhere here is he accorded social equality. When the highest representative of Northern civilization invites the highest representative of negro civilization to sit at his table as his social equal, he digs a gulf between us too wide and deep for us to go to them or for them to come to us. Into the form of man God breathed the breath of eternal life and he became a living soul, so separate from the manlike forms around them that when the children of Adam, sons of God by virtue of that miraculous inspiration, saw that the daughters of men were fair and married them, he sent a deluge that destroyed the mongrel race. We are the sons of God. Let no second deluge be brought upon the world on our account. United Daughters of the Confederacy, into your fair hands your Creator has placed the power to prevent this degradation. Let no man, be he as learned as Socrates or as rich as Croesus, cross your threshold if he has bartered away this right. To you, fair daughters of the Confederacy, we return our thanks for what you have done and are doing for us and for the South. We old veterans appreciate every word, every smile. We need your encouragement and affection: we want it, and believe it will never be lacking. We shall never forget this day. When at last we all have gone to the final bivouac and the angel Gabriel announces your approach, our ranks will crown to welcome you and remind you of Florence when the monument was unveiled.”

https://msnha.oncell.com/en/confederate-monument-190334.html

The sentiment and purpose of this particular monument seems pretty clear to me.
That was hard to read. It is so hard for me to fathom how people ever thought that way about other human beings.
 

GwilymT

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The third dedication speech to the South Carolina monument At Chickamauga is heavy on themes of reconciliation. There is only one reference to race when the speaker highlighted the devotion of SC soldiers citing the number of soldiers vs the number of “white citizens”.

The main thrust of the speech can be seen in this exscript:

“One more word and I have finished. In this bivouac of the dead, where these silent sentinels, commemorating the love of the living for the departed heroes, lift their heads to high heaven in testimony thereof, we have assembled on this auspicious occasion not as Confederates or Federals, but as Americans, and the survivors of the heroes of both sides, who thirty- six years ago laid aside their arms and returned to the peaceful vocations of life, realizing the fact with satisfaction and pride that they are component parts of the greatest Union of the world.” - SC Senator DS Henderson, 1901

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/...unveiling-south-carolina-monument-chickamauga

This seems to fit with the trend that battlefield dedications tend towards remembrance whereas public monument dedications focus more on the cause and white supremacy. In fact the fourth speech at the dedication of the same monument the speaker expressly states that they will go out of their way to avoid any controversial topics:

“Standing on soil made sacred by the blood of many of the brightest, best and bravest of America's sons, and in the presence of some who wore the blue, and others who wore the gray, and (34) perhaps in the presence of some whose loved ones wore both the blue and the gray, I would not utter a word calculated to rekindle the animosity of the past, or provoke the jealousy of the present. I would rather come in that spirit that breathes—

Peace in the quiet dales,
Made rankly fertile by the blood of men,
Peace in the woodland, and the lonely glen,
Peace in the peopled vales.

Peace on the crowded towns,
Peace in the thousand fields of wavin' grain,
Peace on the highway and the flowery lane,
Peace on the wind-swept lawn.

Peace on the whirring marts,
Peace where the scholar thinks the hunter roams.
Peace God of peace, peace, peace, in all our homes,
And peace in all our hearts.”

-Col. J. Harvey Wilson

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/...unveiling-south-carolina-monument-chickamauga
 
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