Charlottesville’s monument to Stonewall Jackson (1921) was removed from a park next to the Albemarle County Courthouse in July 2021. It was subsequently sold to a Los Angeles “visual art space” and is in danger of destruction. (Nickmorgan2, Wikimedia Commons, rendered in grayscale)
In Charlottesville and Richmond, the fate of historical statuary hangs in the balance.
by Catesby Leigh
Charlottesville’s public spaces suffered major degradation after George Floyd’s killing, thanks to the removal of five noteworthy statuary works erected between 1909 and 1924: a Confederate sentinel known as Johnny Reb perched on an elaborate pedestal flanked by two cannons in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse; equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; a Lewis and Clark monument that included the crouching figure of their Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea; and a monument to Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, famous for his exploits in what became the Northwest Territory. This tribute to the “Conqueror of the Northwest” included seven figures in a scenographic tableau, with Clark alone on horseback as his party encountered a group of Indians.
Except for the Johnny Reb, these monuments were the work of noted artists and individually designated on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Landmarks Register. All, again excepting the Johnny Reb, were donated by an exceptionally generous philanthropist, investment banker Paul Goodloe McIntire (1860–1952).
And all ran afoul of racial-grievance activists, whether black or Native American, and their indispensable coterie of woke white allies convinced that the monuments’ removal will somehow improve the lives of historically marginalized minorities. It won’t, and the grievance community will just move on to the next hot-button issue. Only the handsomely decorated pink-granite pedestal of the Lewis and Clark, rising from a lushly planted traffic island, remains. Evidently the pedestal is considered politically acceptable in the statuary’s absence, especially that of the unacceptably subordinate figure of Sacagawea. Continue reading
Charlottesville’s hasty—and possibly illegal—destruction of its Robert E. Lee equestrian statue establishes a toxic precedent.
by Catesby Leigh
The century-old equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been broken up, and, more likely than not, melted down into bronze ingots by now. But nobody involved in this officially sanctioned act of iconoclasm is saying whether that’s the case. Four weeks after the filing of a petition for injunction intended to prevent the statue’s destruction, the Charlottesville circuit court hasn’t even scheduled a hearing. Charlottesville’s woke excuse for a newspaper of record, the Daily Progress, has been notably incurious about the statue’s current whereabouts or condition.
The Lee equestrian was mainly the work of Henry Merwin Shrady, the sculptor who created the Grant Memorial at the foot of Capitol Hill in Washington. In a way, it was conceived as a peace monument. It showed the Confederate commander in dress uniform, hat at his side, back ramrod straight and with a facial expression of sober resolve. Traveler, his mount, walked with head bowed. Lee had surrendered but retained his dignity in defeat. The expression of resolve reflected a determination that the war be over.
After midnight on December 7, 2021, Charlottesville’s city council hastily—and possibly illegally—approved a resolution to donate the bronze statue, which had been removed from a downtown park in July, to a local African-American heritage center. The center proposed to melt the bronze down so that it could be recast in a “community”-inspired memorial celebrating wokedom’s new world of elevated racial consciousness. Continue reading