On June 30, 2015, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake announced plans to undertakea formal review for Baltimore’s Confederate statues. The Mayor announced this move in direct response to growing protests against the public display of Confederate flags and monuments throughout the country in the wake of the June 17, 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. This study seeks to support the city’s review and informed public participation in the review process by exploring the historic context for the four Confederate monuments identified by the city’s special commission and the role of Confederate memory in Baltimore and Maryland more broadly.
This study explores the contemporary context for the erection of these monuments between 1887 and 1948—a period during which policies and programs endorsing racial segregation and discrimination received broad support from many white voters and elected officials in Baltimore and Maryland. This focus builds on the past two decades of historical scholarship that has illustrated how the theme of the “Lost Cause” shaped Civil War public memory during the late 19th and early 20th century and the relationship of Confederate memory to race and politics on a national scale.
We organized this study chronologically from the Civil War up through the present. Given the broad scope of this topic, we expect that this document may be incomplete or unclear at points. We welcome comments, questions and criticisms and plan to continue revising and improving this study in the future.
Baltimore has three Confederate monuments located on public property: the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument or the “Spirit of the Confederacy” (1903) on Mount Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument (1917) on University Parkway, and the Lee-Jackson Monument (1948) located at Wyman Park Dell. A fourth statue on Mount Vernon Place—the Roger Brooke Taney Monument (1887)—memorializes a Maryland lawyer and Supreme Court Justice whose decision in the 1857 Dred Scott case earned him lasting infamy as a bitter opponent of black freedom.
Who built these four monuments and statues? Why did they choose to honor Confederate rebellion when Maryland remained part of the Union during the Civil War? What meaning did the monuments hold when they were first erected? What meaning do the monuments hold today—over 150 years after the end of the Civil War and 67 years since the Lee-Jackson monument was installed?
During and after the Civil War, Americans from both northern and southern states understood the central role of slavery to the conflict. They saw the Confederate rebellion as a fight by slave-holders to preserve slavery. By the early 20th century, however, popular publications, exhibitions, reunions, parades and memorials all worked together transform the story of the Confederacy into a noble “Lost Cause” fought by brave and honorable men for a cause of state’s rights. The success of this transformation (what writer Jamelle Bouie has called a “prograganda coup, the end point of 150 years of myth-making”) continues to shape the popular and political reception of these Confederate monuments and memorials today.
Due in part to the legacy of memorials as an intentional re-interpretation and ennobling of Confederate history, public Confederate memorials present a troubling reminder of the power of racism and white supremacy in Baltimore and Maryland between the 1880s and 1940s. The meaning of the works is not limited to what they say about the Civil War but what they say about the racist reaction against black civil rights in Maryland and throughout the South in the 19th and 20th centuries.
What do we do about the legacy of racism present in our city’s monuments? What does a commitment to fighting racism mean for public art, historic preservation and public memory? Does it require us to include diverse voices in public art through signage and programming? Or only to exclude the images and voices of white supremacy? Or some deeper commitment to restorative justice—documenting past wrongs and working to make them right? If justice is our goal, then how do we link these symbolic issues to political and material concerns in the present—as they were linked in the monuments erected by earlier generations of Baltimoreans? These are some of the questions facing Baltimore today, which this study hopes to inform.
Baltimore Heritage has not offered any recommendations on the reinterpretation, removal or relocation of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments. Instead, our goal with this study is to encourage our neighbors, elected officials, and key decision-makers to take the concerns that activists have raised about these public artworks seriously and to acknowledge their importance to Baltimore’s past, present and future.
This study draws on a variety of sources nearly all accessible online for free or with a Enoch Pratt Free Library card. We relied extensively on contemporary accounts from the Baltimore Sun and the Afro American newspapers from the ProQuest Historical Newspaper Database. The Internet Archive (and Google Books) provided access to relevant 19th century publications that we have linked to throughout the text. This study is also shaped by more recent scholarship and journalism that has drawn greater attention to public memory of the Civil War, including David Blight’s Race and Reunion, Paul Shackel’s Memory in Black and White, Jamelle Bouie’s writing from Slate, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing for The Atlantic. Readers can find more details and a broader perspective beyond the scope of this study in these and other related works.
History of Baltimore’s Confederate Memory and Monuments
April 26, 1861: James Ryder Randall writes the poem “Maryland, My Maryland”
The death of Francis X. Ward inspired of James Ryder Randall, a native Marylander living and teaching in Louisiana, to compose a poem, “Maryland, My Maryland,” published on April 26, 1861 in the New Orleans newspaper Sunday Delta. Jennie Cary, a young woman living in Baltimore, set the poem to the tune of a popular song leading to its widespread adoption by Confederate troops during the Civil War and its popularity among Maryland’s Confederate veterans after the war. The lyrics describe President Abraham, Lincoln as a “tyrant,” “despot,” and “Vandal,” and in using the phrase “sic semper,” provided the same words shouted by Marylander John Wilkes Booth after assassinating Lincoln in 1865.1 “Maryland, My Maryland” did not become the official state song until 1939.
Baltimore is famously the site of the first bloodshed associated with the Civil War. On April 19, 1861, as Union troops marched from the President Street Station to Camden Station, a mob of Confederate supporters attacked the troops in what is known as the Pratt Street Riot. In the days that followed, others destroyed railroad bridges and telegraph lines to delay, disrupt or stop the movement of Union troops through Maryland.
Before the Civil War, the frequency of manumissions in Maryland made the state home to 74,723 free blacks, largest number of any state in the nation. Although some people in Maryland supported slavery or sympathized with the Confederate rebellion, as a whole, the state remained firmly within the Union throughout the war. In April 1861, after months of pressure from members of the state legislature, Governor Hicks convened a special session of the assembly to consider a “course of action” – but lawmakers ultimately declined to consider secession ending the discussion for good. Other proposals for Maryland to stay “neutral” in the fight went nowhere.
According to the Maryland Historical Society Guide to Civil War Sources:
”It is estimated that up to 60,000 Marylanders fought for the Union during the Civil War. Maryland raised 20 infantry and four cavalry regiments for Union service, along with six artillery batteries. There were no official Maryland troops in the Confederacy, but sympathetic Marylanders organized infantry, cavalry, and artillery units. Others joined military outfits from other states. As many as 25,000 Marylanders fought for the South in the war. On the whole, those officers who fought for the Confederacy tended to represent the landed gentry of Maryland, while Union officers were more likely to be farmers or artisans. Those Marylanders fighting for the Confederacy suffered greater combat losses than those who sided with the North.
A variety of forces began to challenge slavery early in the war. In April 1862, the emancipation of enslaved people in Washington, DC created new opportunities for enslaved blacks to escape from bondage. In 1863, the federal government began recruiting for the new U.S. Colored Troops, enlisting over 8,700 black men in six Maryland regiments.
In 1864, Maryland passed a new state constitution abolishing slavery. The passage of the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment to the Constitution passage of the 14th and 15th amendments, etc. Maryland did not ratify the amendments until well after they came into effect: 1959 (for the 14th) and 1973 (for the 15th).
1865: Loudon Park Memorial Association established
After the Battle of Gettysburg at the beginning of July 1863, the Union army took hundreds of Confederate prisoners, transported them Baltimore, and confined them at Fort McHenry. 139 of these Confederate soldiers died and the federal government buried them at the Loudon Park National Cemetery (established the year before) in the section soon known as Confederate Hill. After the end of the war in 1865, a group of Confederate veterans formed the Loudon Park Memorial Association that held a ceremony in the cemetery every year on June 6 and arranging the burial of former Confederate soldiers in the civilian section, Loudon Park Cemetery, adjoining the national cemetery. Around 650 Confederate veterans are buried between the two sites.
Historic Southern Monuments: Representative Memorials of the Heroic Dead of the Southern Confederacy (1911) described the circumstances around one of the two monuments in the cemetery writing:
In 1874, with the aid of an appropriation from the State of Maryland, the bodies of Marylanders who fell in the Confederate service were gathered from all the battlefields, from Petersburg to Gettysburg. Comrades were employed for this purpose, and brave soldiers were taken from fence corners and hedgerows where they had been laid. These bodies were reinterred in the Confederate lot in Loudon Park Cemetery, where are erected the central monument, “The Confederate Soldier,” by Volck, and the monuments to Companies H and A of the First and Second Maryland Infantry, and that dashing cavalryman, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Gilmore. This beautiful plot contains about four hundred bodies. It is the property of the society and provision has been made for its perpetual care by payments to the cemetery company. About ten thousand dollars have been expended upon this work. The bodies of all Confederate prisoners who died in Baltimore are also buried in the lot, and each grave is marked with a marble headstone, with the name, regiment and State, whenever known, of the soldier who sleeps beneath. Since 1873 the society has always arranged for the observance of Memorial Day, June 6, when hundreds of ladies and the veteran comrades are conveyed to Loudon Park Cemetery to strew flowers on the graves of the dead. The graves of our soldiers and sailors in other cemeteries receive like attention.
1871: Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the State of Maryland established
In 1871, the Loudon Park Memorial Association became the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the State of Maryland led by their first president Confederate Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble. The constitution of the new group stated their mission:
“to collect and preserve the material for a truthful history of the late war between the Confederate States and the United States of America; to honor the memory of our comrades who have fallen; to cherish the ties of friendship among those who survive, and to fulfill the duties of sacred charity toward those who may stand in need of them.”
Local organizing in Baltimore was matched by new regional organizations such as the Southern Historical Society (established 1868-69) and a rush of public talks and publications promoting the perceived virtues of the South before the Civil War and the righteousness of the Confederate cause—a set of ideas that became popularly known as the “Lost Cause.”
Over two-thirds of the 402 members listed in an 1883 membership roster are listed as living in Baltimore City—with scores of others located in close vicinity in Baltimore County or Anne Arundel County.
January 19, 1880: Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland resolve to erect a monument
On January 19, 1880, at the annual meeting of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland, a group of Confederate veterans passed a series of resolutions organizing a committee to “secure funds for the purpose of erecting a monument in the city of Baltimore to the memory of Marylanders who died in the service of the Confederate States.” The group worked quickly and, on March 24, the first branch of the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution permitting the Society to “erect a monument on Eutaw Place, near Lanvale st.” Three days later, a letter from Confederate veteran Charles T. Crane opposing the monument proposal appeared in The Sun:
In connection with the subject of a proposed Confederate monument in one of the public squares of Baltimore, Mr. Charles T. Crane, a soldier of the late Confederate army, has written the following sensible letter to Mayor Latrobe, which, it will be seen, is in accord with the views of The Sun, as given yesterday:
“Hon. F.C. Latrobe.–My Dear Sir. I do not believe that any one who knows me will question my devotion to the cause of the late Confederate States of America. It is with this belief that I venture to address you in opposition to the proposed Confederate monument in this city. I consider the erection of such a monument in the streets of Baltimore impolitic, inexpedient, and injudicious in the highest degree. Whatever the sentiments and sympathies of the people of Maryland may have been or may be now, there was and there is a very respectable minority of them who did not sympathize with the South during the civil war. Whatever may have been the agencies employed to accomplish such result, the fact remains that Maryland did not leave the Union, and while hundreds of her sons gave up their lives in defense of the South, the State itself was never a member of the Confederacy. I yield to no one in honoring the memories of those noble spirits who devotion to principle led them to abandon friends and home to die for what they conceived to be right. We have two beautiful monuments erected to their memories in that hallowed city of the dead—Loudon Park. In my humble judgement this and kindred spots are the only fitting places on Maryland soil for the erection of Confederate monuments, because, whatever it may cost us to make the acknowledgement, however painful it may be to realize the fact, the truth is undeniable that the cause for which they fought is dead. The principles of civil liberty, of State’s rights and of local self-government may live, nay, do live and burn in thousands of manly bosoms, but the cause, a separate national existence for the States and people of the South is dead—forever dead. This being my belief, I, for one, am prepared to accept the situation, and without the least abandonment of principle, without sacrifice of honor, with a heart full of love and reverence for my fallen comrades, I am unwilling to see erected in the public streets of this city a monument to a dead idea, but which will be a standing menace, and a source of bitterness not only to a great number of the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland, but to a great number of the people of the United States. The war is over. For God’s sake let us of the South do nothing to revive its enmities and hates, but rather cultivate a spirit of reconciliation and peace. We are one people, let us be one in spirit as well as in name. I know that these views are opposed to some of my nearest and dearest friends, some of whom may be disposed to judge harshly my attitude in this matter. For this I am prepared. I believe I am right, and what is thought of me is of small consequence compared to the evils which I believe will follow the erection of the proposed monument. I am, dear sir, yours very truly, Chas. T. Crane / Baltimore, March 26, 1880.2
Just days after the Sun published Crane’s letter, the proposal moved to the Second Branch of the Baltimore City Council. Dr. J. Pembroke Thom, a member of the Council and also a Confederate veteran, opposed the proposed monument and presented into the record a memorial (in this case meaning a letter, a memo) of “residents on Eutaw Square and vicinity and elsewhere, against allowing the erection of a Confederate monument on the square.” The letter from local residents, “expressed respect from the memory of the gallant dead, but opposed the movement as calculated to disturb harmony and good feeling between citizens of all shades of opinion.” In addition, the Council received printed memorials “with several hundred signatures of officers and soldiers who served in the Union army and others, in opposition to allowing the erection of the proposed Confederate monument in Eutaw Square.”
Despite this opposition, on March 31, 1880, the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland succeeded in pushing the second branch of the Baltimore City Council to approve the resolution and send it to Mayor Ferdinand C. Latrobe.
On April 5, 1880, the Mayor returned the resolution to the first branch of the City Council—“without his approval”—writing (emphasis added):
“During the late civil war the people of Baltimore were divided in sentiment and action on the questions which, after a prolonged and embittered struggle, were finally decided by the sword. The ardor, bravery and devotion to principle of the Maryland soldiers, and the honor due to the memory of those who fell upon the battle-field is universally acknowledged. But while the issues involved in the war have been settled by its result, in most cases the convictions of those who as actors or sympathizers took part in the contest continue to exist. Under these circumstances the erection at this time in one of the public squares of a memorial monument commemorative of the acts of those who fought upon either side would not fail to be repugnant to the opinions and sentiments of very many people. The public highways and squares of the city are the common property of all, and we who are temporarily entrusted with their control, whatever our personal opinions may be, are not, in my judgment, justified in dedicating any portion of them to a purpose which would be in direct opposition to the sensibilities and wishes of large numbers of citizens.”
The character of this opposition is illustrated, in part, through the Decoration Day remembrances of Baltimore’s Union veterans and the role of black activists in pushing back against white supremacy in Maryland and around the country. Despite the effort by Latrobe and others to describe the issues of the Civil War as “settled” many African-Americans in Baltimore saw clear continuity between the Civil War and their continued efforts to secure civil rights.
In February 1880, as Confederate veterans organized to erect a memorial on Eutaw Place, a convention of “colored delegates from each ward of the city” met at the Douglass Institute on Lexington Street to organize a new “Equal-Rights League.” The meeting heard speeches from Rev. John A. Handy, James Taylor, N.C.M. Groome, Isaac Myers and Jeremiah Haralson. Myers observed how in Maryland:
“Colored men cannot sit upon juries, colored children cannot be taught in the public schools by teachers of their own race, and colored people cannot get accommodations in hotels nor be admitted to practice as lawyers in State courts. By units of action the colored people will secure these rights and privileges.”
Harrison, a former Congressman from Alabama (who had fled his home state in 1878 after being threatened by an armed mob) , remarked that the “colored people in Maryland are free compared with their race in Alabama and the far South, where they are now fleeing from ‘a second slavery that is more damnable than the first.’” The discussion continued past midnight before the meeting concluded with a resolution:
“They set forth that neither the republican nor democratic parties in this State accord equal rights to the colored man, and the organization is promoted to secure him his rights and the respect to which he is entitled as a citizen.”
On May 31, 1880, for the city’s spring Decoration Day parades, a group of black veterans, their families and neighbors gathering at Laurel Hill Cemetery, where the members of the Lincoln Post had invited Howard University professor Richard Theodore Greener up from Washington, DC to serve as the orator. His remarks highlighted the “services of the colored men in the war,” continued discrimination against black soldiers, and the politics of the past and present, observing:
“[the colored men] were the only race that had never furnished a traitor to rebellion, but from the colony times down had always been seen, gun in hand, loyal to the flag of their country. […] Politically [Greener] urged that there should be no alliance with the half converted rebels of the South, as that has had the effect to hand three millions of their race over to their old rebel masters.”
For Greener and others, the Confederacy remained a powerful symbol of the continued presence of white supremacy in Maryland and across the nation.
Symbols of Confederate or Southern heritage were often deployed to justify discrimination. On April 4, 1882, the New York Times reported how the Baltimore Medical and Surgical Society denied the membership application of Dr. Whitfield Winsey, “a colored practitioner, whose office is at No. 116 East Fayette street.” The Society had no official opposition to black members but after seven members voted against Dr. Winsey’s admission (out of 25 votes cast) the group’s own rules required them to reject his application. The New York Times remarked on the “indignation” expressed after the vote by several “prominent members of the profession,” writing:
“The cause given for their conduct by those who voted against Dr. Winsey was purely his color, one of them stating that his Southern birth prevented him from recognizing a negro practitioner. A distinguished Maryland medical Professor replied that he had carried a sword in the Confederate Army, but that his political sentiments would never interfere with his recognition of scientific merit in a member of the colored race.”
June 1883: Ladies’ Confederate Memorial and Beneficial Association reorganizes
The concerns of black activists and even other Confederate veterans did not limit the growth of memorial efforts in the 1880s and 1890s. On May 22, 1883, the Ladies’ Confederate Memorial and Beneficial Association reorganized after a decade long hiatus, with the stated goal “to keep green the memory of dead soldiers, and to raise a fund of money to assist their widows and orphans.” In June 1883, Baltimore’s chapter of the Lee Memorial Association played a critical role in the fundraising campaign to build a statue to Robert E. Lee in Lexington, Virginia. In May 1885, Baltimore hosted a reunion of the Army of the Potomac where Confederate and Union veterans came together in a reportedly celebratory reunion. Local efforts also continued to combine into a larger national effort. The United Confederate Veterans founded in 1889 followed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy founded in 1894.
November 12, 1887: Chief Justice Taney statue unveiled in Mount Vernon Place
Memorial and reunion efforts often drew support from Baltimore’s wealthiest and most influential residents, among them William T. Walters who supported the installation of a monument to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the north square of Mount Vernon Place in 1887. Walters arrived in Baltimore from Pennsylvania in 1841 and, beginning in 1847, built a fortune as a liquor wholesaler. In the summer of 1861, Walters left Baltimore for Paris where he remained until 1865.
In 1874, Walters began to show his art collection to the public at his home on Mount Vernon Place and, in 1887, commissioned a copy of an earlier 1872 statue of Taney by William Henry Rinehart (located outside the Maryland State House in Annapolis).
Roger B. Taney is best known today as the author of the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) stating that black men “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”3 While Roger B. Taney stayed in his position as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court up until his death on October 12, 1864, his personal sympathy and direct support for the Confederacy is clear.
During the Civil War, Roger B. Taney had expressed his pride in a son-in-law for his service in the Confederate army and told a young Confederate Army recruit that they were performing a patriotic service like that of the recruit’s grandfather during the American Revolution. Taney also opposed every Union war measure that came before the Supreme Court. Some of this opposition could arguably be based in legal principle but his goal clearly included obstruction of the war effort. In Maryland, Taney also served as a circuit court judge and always fell “ill” just in time to prevent any trial for treason or sabotage from moving forward.4
Contemporary accounts of the gift acknowledged the divisive legacy of the Dred Scott decision but also presented a call for unity. On November 12, 1887, The Sun described the significance of the statue:
“Maryland continues to honor a judge whose decision in a famous case is reprobated in one section of the Union, notwithstanding its strict agreement with the constitution, and as heartily commended in the other. Fierce disputes, historical in their results, raged about the Dred Scott decision. But the issues of that period of conflict are now dead, and all our people respect the memory of the brave, pure and learned judge whose career did so much honor to his native State.”
The Sun continued to report on the November 12 dedication the next day:
“The bronze statue of Chief Justice Taney, by Rinehart, which has been placed on the handsome pedestal erected for it in the north square of Mount Vernon Place, will be unveiled this afternoon at 3 o’clock. The unveiling will be done by a great-grandson of Chief Justice Taney, a lad nine years of age, Master Roger Brooke Taney Anderson, grandson of Gen. James M. Anderson, of this city. The Maryland Institute Schools of Design, with Prof. Fuchs, and the Charcoal Club of Baltimore artists will attend. […] [William Walters remarked] there has been no Maryland artist who has reflected the credit upon this city and State that Rinehart has. The manner, too, in which he bequeathed his estate for the advancement of art commends him to all Marylanders. There ought to be no stint, and there will be none, in recognizing his genius as represented by this great work, and approval of the generous gift of his fortune.”
Initial plans featured Severn Teackle Wallis as the main speaker for the unveiling of the Taney statue. Wallis had similarly served as the lead orator for the original Rinehart statue of Taney unveiled in Annapolis in 1872.5 Historian Corey M. Brooks recently argued that Wallis’ 1872 remarks, “made clear that the State House monument stood not just as tribute to an accomplished jurist, but also as Maryland’s ‘protest in the living bronze’ against Republican politicians who had “traduced and ostracized” the man Wallis exalted as the ‘champion’ of ‘free institutions.’” The oration left Dred Scott out entirely but did include Taney’s feelings on abolition:
“Abolitionism he hated and loathed with a hatred and loathing which exhausted the resources of his unmatched vocabulary of invective.”
In 1887, however, Wallis had previously campaigned against Mayor Ferdinand Latrobe and, just days before the unveiling in Mount Vernon Place was set to take place, the Mayor refused to participate unless Wallis withdrew as the speaker. Wallis offered to withdraw from his role but William Walters refused to accept and instead chose to organize the unveiling without any formal ceremony. On November 13, the New York Times reported:
“Mayor Latrobe, who refused to accept the handsome gift on behalf of the city because a political antagonist had been selected by Mr. Walters to deliver the presentation address, was among the large throng that assembled to witness the unveiling.”
1888: Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home opened in Pikesville
The Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home opened in Pikesville in 1888 reusing a building constructed in 1818 as a federal arsenal. According to the Maryland Historical Society, a brochure published by the home in the 1890s describes it as providing the veterans with:
”a haven of rest […] to which they may retire and find refuge, and, at the same time, lose none of their self-respect, nor suffer in the estimation of those whose experience in life is more fortunate.”
The Baltimore Confederate Associated reportedly struggled to sustain the institution through private contributions and campaigned for state support throughout the 1890s.
In 1890, the Maryland chapter of the Society for Confederate Veterans convened at the Carrollton Hotel at Maryland Hall at Mulberry and Cathedral Streets in a ceremony presided over by Gen. Bradley T. Johnson.
The evening included a eulogy for Jefferson Davis that concluded:
“Confederates in arms for Southern rights were Davis, Lee and Jackson, heroes of the nineteenth century. They will live through the chronicles of time, when the bones of their enemies shall be graceless and their names anathematized. These men lived, fought and died for the ‘lost cause,’ and with the love and fear of God in their hearts. But in the affections of the people, and in every nook, corner and crag of the Southern country, shall live proofs of their heroism, which neither time nor vandalism can destroy or obliterate. Monuments may cover the entire face of the country and quarries may be exhausted to blot out memories of the past, but heroism lives forever.”
In 1893, local Confederate veteran organized a delegation from Baltimore to Lexington, Virginia to attend the unveiling of a monument to Stonewall Jackson on July 21—led by General George H. Steuart, chief marshal of the Confederate Society from Maryland, on a special train from Camden Station. An account of the sculpture published in The Sun noted: “The letters “U.S.” on the hilt of the sword seem out of place, and cause comment here [in Lexington].” In November 1897, the United Daughters of the Confederacy held their fourth annual conference in Baltimore bringing together delegates from 140 chapters across the country.
February 1899: Baltimore City Council approves resolution supporting the erection of a Confederate monument in Druid Hill Park
On January 12, 1899, the Baltimore Sun editorialized in favor of the Daughters of the Confederacy and their effort erect a monument to the “memory of Maryland Confederate soldiers and sailors who lost their lives in the civil war.” The paper criticized the City Council’s slow response to the group’s petition and urged the city to embrace a spirit of a “reunited country,” writing:
“It is high time for all such feeling as now seems to animate the City Council of Baltimore to cease. It should be recognized by all true men that those who fell in the civil war were brave men, who had to courage of their convictions, and died for a cause they thought to be right.”
A week later, on January 19, 1899, the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States held a reunion in Baltimore and celebrated the birthday of Gen. Robert E. Lee. By February 1899, the first and second branch of the Baltimore City Council voted to approve a resolution, “authorizing the Mayor to grant a permit to the Daughters of the Confederacy for the erection in Druid Hill Park of a monument to the memory of the Confederate soldiers and sailors who died in the civil war.”
Their success reflects the waning criticism of Confederate memorial efforts in Maryland. This is also seen in the growing number of histories written to celebrate the Confederacy, such as writer William Worthington Goldsborough who presented the volunteers for the Confederate army as “true and brave hearted men,” in The Maryland Line in the Confederate Army, 1861-1865 (1900), writing:
”This is a round unvarnished tale of a few hundred heroes from a border State, who stepped bravely to the front when their rights of manhood, of freedom, and of citizenship, under what should be one protecting flag, enfolding all in its embrace, were threatened.”
The Baltimore Sun continued to defend an idyllic vision of Confederate memory, writing on Memorial Day, on June 6, 1902:
A people without monuments, it has been aptly said, is a people without a history. A people which does not cherish the memory of its heroes is a people without gratitude, incapable of appreciating valor, loyalty and self-sacrifice. The Southern people have always placed an exalted estimate upon men willing to die for their convictions. They will always honor the Confederate soldier. The South may become “new” in some things, but it will ever remain the “old” South in its admiration of the noble qualities displayed by the followers of Lee and Jackson. […] Confederate memorial exercises were held yesterday at Frederick, and Governor Smith, of Maryland, delivered an interesting and pointed address, in which he took the ground that the Civil War was an inevitable result growing out of our previous conditions, and that the men who fought for the South fought for their country and their principles and are not to be stigmatized as rebels and traitors.
According to an follow up account published in The Sun on June 7, 1902:
Ideal weather favored Confederate Memorial Day, and a large company assembled in Loudon Park Cemetery yesterday to pay tribute to the memory of the men who fell fighting for the Southern cause. […] Captain Shepherd then took up the histories which are used in the public schools of Baltimore, and protested that the children should not be taught that the South was wrong because unsuccessful. He asked that something be done to put aside “the cold and even hostile method of teaching the history of the Civil War in the school.” He appealed to the ladies to take up the question, saying that the men have been powerless to secure justice for the South and its leaders in the schoolbooks.[…] Continuing, he said that the name of Taney is mentioned but once in the history used in the two Female High Schools of Baltimore, and that other famous Marylanders were entirely omitted.
The account described Captain Henry E. Shepherd, formerly Superintendent of Public Instruction in Baltimore, as “one of the best-known educators in the country.”
May 2, 1903: Maryland Confederate Monument dedicated on Mount Royal Avenue
On May 2, 1903, a group of veterans and residents gathered on on Mount Royal Terrace (now Mount Royal Avenue) to dedicate the Maryland Confederate Monument (known as the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument or the “Spirit of the Confederacy”). The Sun reported:
Countless little banner, the battle flag of the old days predominating, were carried by the assemblage on the streets and here and there one fluttered from one of the open windows along the way. […] Cheers and applause, with something here and there that sounded like a sob, marked the passing of the scarred old battle flags as they were born aloft by the old color-bearers. The lines came to rest along either side of the avenue, and the color-bearers took their stand, as a guard of honor, beside the monument. […] “Maryland, My Maryland,” was taken up by the band as the monument was revealed, and during the applause that followed great bunches and wreaths of flowers, which had been sent by the officers and chapters of the Maryland organization and by friends of the society, were placed at the base of the pedestal."
Major General Andrew C. Trippe, commander of the Maryland Division of the United Confederate Veterans spoke at the event:
General Trippe said that the announcement of the plan of the Daughters to erect a fitting memorial to the valor of the Maryland men who had fought and struggled from the Confederacy, came to the Veterans as a surprise. “The men of Maryland,” he said, “have been accustomed to do brave deeds and give too little thought to their perpetuation, ‘Manly deeds and modest words’, the motto of our State, has been their true characterization. We heard of monuments to our great leaders and of private soldiers of other States, but we had not thought of one at home. It is generous hearts and faithfulness that have done this work.”
Mr. Howard’s oration included praise for the “Southern woman”:
“The Daughters of the Confederacy, having long had it in their hearts to erect a memorial of the sons of Maryland who fought on the side of the Confederate States, now present their work. For such a monument they believe the time and place are fitting. […] The suggestion that there is one monument yet to be raised—that to the Southern woman—will bear fruit, although every monument like this is a memorial also, for it is largely the work of their hands.”6
Democratic Mayor Thomas G. Hayes, himself a Confederate veteran, praised Lee and Jackson:
Mayor Hayes, in making the address of acceptance, quoted Lord Wolseley’s saying that “No Cause could be considered lost which had around it the halo of the names, lives and deeds of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”
1905: Maryland disenfranchisement campaign illustrates the political context of Confederate memorialization
The political significance of these memorial efforts is illustrated not only through controversy but through the broader agenda of the Democratic Party in this period. For African American observers in Baltimore and elsewhere, the “spirit of the Confederacy” remained one of political disenfranchisement and threatened violence. This observation stood in stark contrast to the glowing vision of history and reunion promoted by the Baltimore Sun and others.
Writing on April 15, 1899, the Afro quotes Mr. Alexander H. Robinson, a “citizen of Baltimore, in seconding the democratic congressional nomination of Col. J. W. Denny, appealed thus to Democrats,” at a September 1898 convention:
”It is our duty to subordinate every factional issue, every personal ambition, every distracting issue in party affairs to the one supreme issue of erasing from the fair brow of our city and state the ignominious brand of negro supremacy, and placing the affairs of the city in the hands of the WHITE MAN, where the brutal and swaggering negro shall no longer be a factor in our political affairs."
Continuing, the Afro observed:
”And now, at the first grand opening of the Democratic municipal campaign at Music Hall last week, the battle cry was echoed, “This is a white man’s city.” Thus, the Southern confederacy having been overturned and suppressed, the principle upon which it was founded, is vigorously and energetically set forth by the Democratic party, who would by an indirect method accomplish that which the demise of the Confederacy rendered impossible. The Confederacy is dead but its spirit still lives, and the negro is to attain his “natural and normal condition” by means of the democratic party.”
In 1890, Maryland Senator Arthur Pue Gorman led the Congressional Democrats in defeating the Lodge Force Bill and, around the same time, defeating the “Blair Education Bill” named for New Hampshire Senator Henry W. Blair. If passed, the Lodge Bill would have granted the federal government the authority to enforce the fairness of local elections and challenge the disenfranchisement of black voters in Mississippi and elsewhere. Gorman had won his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1880 in an election reportedly influenced by large groups of “ward rounders” who shot and wounded black Republicans when they attempted to vote at Howard County polls.
Like many other Democrats, Gorman and his family supported Confederate memorial efforts. In 1899, Arthur P. Gorman’s wife volunteered as a “patroness” (and his son as a member of the committee of arrangements) for a “summer vaudeville and dance” organized at the Academy of Music in Laurel for the Confederate Monument fund. In May 1900, the Sun recorded Gorman’s contribution of $10 to a fund to erect a monument to the Confederate soldiers and sailors of Maryland (erected on Mount Royal Terrace in 1903).
By 1903, Gorman encouraged the Maryland state Democratic Party to follow other Southern states in disenfrachising black voters. In 1904, the Democratic controlled State Senate passed legislation to disenfranchise black voters but Governor Warfield did not sign the bill into law. Finally, in 1905, the proposal went before Maryland voters.
In 1905, the state Democratic party gathered in Baltimore to launch their campaign to disenfranchise African-Americans across the state, on September 16, adopting a platform reported in the New York Times:
“By common consent, the only issue in this campaign is whether negro suffrage, put upon us against our will by force, shall be restricted and its power for evil destroyed. This Democratic convention […] proclaims anew our resolute purpose to maintain the supremacy of our race and its control by all lawful and constitutional means of the administration of the political affairs of the State. The negro vote, as it stands to-day is a perpetual menace to the prosperity and peace of Maryland—a menace to our very civilization—for it is ignorant, corrupt, the blind instrument of unscrupulous and selfish leaders.”
Among the local efforts to win support for the proposal was a rally at Lehmann’s Hall on N. Howard Street featuring Alabama Congressman James Thomas Heflin as the lead speaker. Heflin referenced “Lost Cause” themes in his speech and concluded his remarks with the cry:
If you fail to disenfranchise the negro your State must bow her head in shame and humiliation. But remove the fetters from her feet, and take the dead weight of negro suffrage from about her neck, let her breathe again the pure air of white supremacy full and complete; then take her place alongside her sisters who have disenfranchised the ignorant, vicious negro, and you can exclaim in deed and in truth, “Maryland, my Maryland,” through thy breadth and length a tremor passes. Look, the dark is done, and on thy proud form shines the splendor of the sun. Thine own children, with heads erect and light on all their faces are happy in the triumph of the white man’s creed.
Fortunately, voters defeated the proposal and preserved the franchise of black male voters in Maryland.
Other efforts took place at the federal level. In February 1905, Congress unanimously approved a bill to return Confederate battle flags captured by Union forces during the Civil War and Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill into law by. In 1906, new legislation required the federal government to maintain Confederate graves in northern states.
Historian Garrett Power has noted how, “the campaign rhetoric of the Disenfranchisement Movement (a nationwide effort to deny Negroes of their right to vote) depicted blacks as slovenly and corrupt brutes.” This rhetoric mirrored the language around lynching. For example, on May 23, 1899, the Baltimore Sun editorialized:
”It is to be regretted that the abatement of lynchings in various parts of the country, and particularly in the South, is hindered by the refusal of Northern speakers and writers to direct their energies to the cure of the cause of lynchings, namely, the aggressive attitude of mind of brutal negroes toward white women."
Thirty-one lynchings took place in Maryland between 1882 and 1911. In the years after the dedication of the monument, there was a 1907 lynching of William Burns in Cumberland and 1911 lynching of King Johnson in Brooklyn, Maryland.
January 9, 1906: Severn Teackle Wallis statue dedicated at Mount Vernon Place
According the Sun Almanac, on January 9, 1906, Baltimore dedicated a statue to Severn Teackle Wallis in front of the Walters Art Gallery:
”A heroic bronze statue of Severn Teackle Walllis by Marquestre, the French sculptor, was unveiled […] The cord was drawn by Severn Teackle Wallis 2d, of Washington D.C., his grandnephew aged 8 years. Mr. Arthur George Brown delivered an oration calling Mr. Wallis a typical, and in many of the most important aspects of his life and character, an ideal Baltimorean. Mayor E. Clay Timanus accepted the statue on behalf of the city. S. Davies Warfield was chairman of the committee which raised the fund for the statue.”
Historian Marvin C. Ross profiled two statues of Severn Teackle Wallis in a 1954 issue of Maryland Historical Magazine writing:
”The statue was first put up in front of The Walters Art Gallery but later, when Andrew O’Connor’s equestrian of Lafayette was erected below the Washington Monument, it was removed to the east of Mount Vernon Place where it now stands.”
The continued currency of 19th century figures like Wallis and Roger Brooke Taney is highlighted by the way in which African American writers continued to use their history to illustrate the challenges of the city and nation in the present. On November 14, 1908, responding to the decision in Berea College v. Kentucky allowing private educational institutions to discriminate on the basis of race, the Afro-American wrote:
”True to its traditions the Supreme Court of the United States has rendered another decision and has struck another blow at the black man in the United States. […] Infamous Judge Taney, of the same count handed down a decision that the Negro had no rights the white man was bound to respect. There are some rights the Negro has that the white man is bound to respect, and there is no doubt but in the course of time he will be wise to the fact, in the instance as in the case of the decision of Taney, all is not lost that is in danger."
On September 10, 1910, the Afro-American editorialized in response to the debate surrounding a McCulloch Street home (a debate that led to the enactment of the country’s first municipal racial segregation ordinance), writing:
[Some] white men evidently think [we are living] in the days of Dred Scott and Chief Justice Taney, and that the decision said to have been rendered in that famous case is still in force and governing in communities like Baltimore. Or perhaps they have been in a Rip Van Winkle sleep and have forgotten the war is over.
In an August 24, 1912, editorial “Roger Taney and Dred Scott,” the Afro American observed:
”The spirit of the infamous decision of Chief Justice Taney is rapidly obtaining with respect to a very large section of the entire body of people who make up this country. What was said of the Negro while in physical bondage is easily applied to a very large section of the common people of this country, by whose labors and industry, a great class of aristocrats have come into being, and by many of them, these same common people, both black and white, are ‘regarded as being of an inferior social order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white aristocracy in social or political relations.’”
April 5, 1906: Maryland State legislature authorizes funding for a Union monument in Baltimore
On April 5, 1906, the Maryland State legislature authorized funding for the construction of the Union Soldiers and Sailors Monumentin Baltimore. The monument, proposed for Druid Hill Park, seems like it may have been in reaction to the installation of the Confederate monument on Mount Royal in 1903.
The plans for the monument prompted a striking response from opponents including one woman who sent a series of letters to the Sun (signing them “A Maryland Woman”). The first letter, published on June 19, 1906 stated:
”The State erected no monument to her Colonial or Revolutionary heroes. No marble tells of their deeds, raised at the expense of the taxpayers. Why, then, should one go up to a motley throng of negroes and aliens. Look at their pension lists and see. By what right did the Legislature of 1906 pass a bill giving the people’s money, or the Governor sign it, for such a purpose? Erect a monument to what? Considering who composed the Maryland Federals, no wonder the State Treasury had to furnish the money. We pay taxes for their pensions, without objection, but to be forced to pay to give them a monument is past endurance. […] As the last General Assembly and Governor Warfield compel us to pay $25,000 to erect a monument, we ask the favor to be allowed to present a design, hoping to make it tell true history. I do not think I make a mistake in saying that the majority of native-born who wore the blue at that period were negroes. Certainly, they gathered by the hordes in camps through Southern Maryland. I would suggest this monument be a block of ebony on a base of tar, and a master hand wield the chisel.
After describing a series of racist scenes for the monument, the letter claimed that the legislature had proposed a monument to “oppression and negro insolence, forcing contribulations [sic] from us, the descendants of Southern men and women, who had the courage of their convictions and never faltered in loyalty or love, but were supreme in both.”
After the letter met with strong responses and critiques, “A Maryland Woman” wrote back in a letter published on June 23, 1906:
The act to take $25,000 from the State Treasury to erect a monument to the soldiers of Maryland does not say “to the white,” etc.—it could not discriminate. How will you eliminate the soldier negroes? Will you say to them, Because you are negroes this monument is not for you? You cannot refuse them full recognition on it, a place at every ceremony and full share in the orators’ glowing eloquence. You must accept your negro companion in arms. He wore the blue and carried a gun. I think all fair minds will say that this monument represents his services equally with yours. This is the inevitable result of asking the State to pay for it. Had you, who wish to honor your dead, erected it at your own expense and by your own exertions, you could have a white monument, with names of white comrades carved on it.
Finally, on July 17, 1906, “A Maryland Woman” again responds again to critics, writing:
”Yes, there stands another monument here, erected by the efforts and the work of the Southern women of Maryland, with loving hearts and willing hands, but not one cent of the State’s funds was asked or received. It stands, white, as stainless as the lives, as pure as the souls of our dear dead heroes—our gloria victis to the end of time.
The monument was built and dedicated in Druid Hill Park on November 6, 1909. Baltimore relocated the monument to Wyman Park in 1959 to make way for the construction of the Jones Falls Expressway through Druid Hill Park.
November 2, 1918: Confederate Women’s Monument erected on University Parkway
In 1914, the General Assembly of Maryland approved a bill entitled “An act to erect a suitable monument in the city of Baltimore to commemorate the heroism, devotion and self-sacrifice of the women of Maryland in their service to the wounded Confederate soldiers who came under their care in the war between the States—1861-1865.”
The act appropriated $12,000 in state funding and a large number of private contributions to “The Maryland Confederate Women’s Monument Fund” On October 28, 1916, the Sun reported:
”The unveiling ceremonies will be conducted by the Rev. William M. Dame, D.D. and the orator of the day will be James McC. Trippe, whose daughter, Miss Mary Ringgold Trippe, will unveil the monument at the close of the oration.”
On November 3, the Sun continued with an account of the unveiling ceremonies (“braving the cutting wind”) attended by a “crowd of several hundred persons, composed of former supporters of the Confederacy, their friends and descendants,” noting:
”The monument, which is the work of J. Maxwell Miller and represents a mother holding a dying hero in her arms, in front of a figure typifying the devoted women of the Confederacy, was veiled with the Stars and Stripes and the Stars and Bars, both being drawn aside by Miss Mary Ringgold Trippe, grand-daughter of the late Gen. Anew C. Trippe, chairman of the monument commission.”
December 1928: J. Harry Ferguson provides $100,000 for the erection of a monument to Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson
Erected in 1948, the planning for the Lee-Jackson Monument began two decades earlier in December 1928. In December 1928, J. Harry Ferguson, president of the Colonial Trust Company, died and, in his will, provided a gift of $100,000 to the Baltimore Municipal Arts Society providing for the erection of a monument dedicated to Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. In his will, Ferguson required that the gift could not be spent before his sister’s death. Ferguson’s sister Ella F. Ward passed away on October 10, 1934.
Robert E. Lee had special significance for many supporters of Confederate memory. Historian Kirk Savage in Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves notes:
With the equation of canonical whiteness, and moral virtue so deeply embedded in the consciousness of race, Lee’s outward appearance was easily read as a reflection of inner superiority. This equation reappears frequently in descriptions by men and women alike, as in this gushing account written by a Maryland woman: “The man who stood before us, the embodiment of a Lost Cause, was the realized King Arthur. The soul that looked out of his eye was as honest and fearless as when it first looked on life. One saw the character, as clear as crystal … and the heart, as tender as that of ideal womanhood.”7
Savage continues writing:
Lee offered white Southerners a hero in their own image, an instrument with which they could prod white Northerners to realign their sympathies along proper racial lines. … The legitimation of Lee after the war helped to reestablish old lines of racial sympathy. The losers in this process of reconciliation were of course African Americans, who could not possibly accept Lee as their hero.8
1931: Rev. George F. Bragg, Jr. speaks at the Hayward Shepherd Memorial dedication in Harper’s Ferry
By the early 1930s, Baltimoreans could see the changing context for Confederate memory in the Afro’s vocal opposition to the installation of the Hayward Shepherd Memorial at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
In a 1931 speech before the the United Daughters of the Confederacy, titled “The Cause Was Not Entirely Lost,” Florida Democratic Senator Duncan Fletcher remarked:
The South fought to preserve race integrity. Did we lose that? We fought to maintain free white dominion. Did we lose that? The States are in control of the people. Local self-government, democratic government, obtains. That was not lost. The rights of the sovereign States, under the Constitution, are recognized. We did not lose that. I submit that what is called “The Lost Cause” was not so much “lost” as is sometimes supposed.
In the face of this idea, voices from Baltimore’s African-American grew louder in their criticism and opposition to confederate memory. In 1931, the Baltimore Afro-American reported on the participation of Rev. George F. Bragg, Jr., the Baltimore pastor of St. James Church in the dedication of the Hayward Shepherd Memorial in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in a ceremony led by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The Afro quoted Mrs. S.H. Hill — “a woman of great prominence in Harpers Ferry” — who expressed surprise with Bragg’s participation in the event:
One who has done so much to bring the best that colored people have done to light. Most of the better thinking people of Harpers Ferry look upon the whole thing with disgust.
The Afro continued to note:
The speeches were ofttimes made to sound low because of the laughter of the porters on the B. and O. railroad train parked on a siding above the grandstand.
In late June 1931, the Afro criticized the remarks at the graduation ceremony at Booker T. Washington Middle School under the headline “Extoll Lee at Junior High School Commencement / Rebel General Held Up as Example of Sincerity,” further calling out the presentation of “a picture, ‘The Cavalier’ to the school by the graduating class. This picture is a representation of the old feudal character of by-gone days. Some of those present noted this departure from the tendency of modern schools to present pictures of outstanding leaders as an inspiration to students.”
In May 1946, the Sun published a light feature by Amy Grief suggests the Confederate monuments are less significant to a new generation of city residents, writing:
“So you drive out Charles street, turn the car at University parkway to face south start with specimen No. 1 — that “Confederate Women of Maryland” price, “The Brave at Home.” It has been there many years, but you’ve never noticed it. It’s not particularly distinguished, not bad—simply a part of the landscape you’ve accepted.
October 1947: Maryland Historical Society mounts an exhibition of Confederate relics
In October 1947, the Maryland Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy worked with the Maryland Historical Society to open an exhibition of Confederate relics for students in Baltimore City public schools. Volunteers from the United Daughters served as guides to an exhibit that included Robert E. Lee’s camp chair and “a variety of Confederate uniforms and small articles used by the soldiers in the field.” The Sun invited anyone interested in making “arrangements to view the exhibition” to contact Mrs. Frank C. Orrick, 729 Colorado Avenue.
May 1, 1948: Lee-Jackson Monument dedicated at Wyman Park Dell
In 1946, the Sun discussed the long delayed Lee-Jackson Monument writing:
“The $50,000 marble pedestal in Wyman Park, which was erected some years ago as a base for the Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson equestrian statue still sits forlornly with nothing more on it other than an occasional cavorting squirrel or a tired chewink.”
Evidently the reception of the design in 1936 centered on the authenticity of the hats and other clothing worn by the figures. Sparing one brief mention that some responded to the 1936 selection of the design with the comment that the monument should be “condemned” because “the cause of the South was a disgraceful one.”
Delayed repeatedly, initial estimates by the artist with plans to be done by the summer of 1938. Construction began on the pedestal in July 1939, and in August 1939, the artist offered a new estimate of completion for early 1941. Later revised to late spring 1942, the work stopped again due to “an acute shortage of Italian clay” and limits on metal during World War II.
Writing on May 1, 1948, The Sun editorialized that “the laymen, or at least most of the laymen with whom we have talked” saw the Lee-Jackson Monument as a “noble thing” noting:
”They are willing to believe, here and now, that this monument will be loved at and enjoyed by people who know little and care less about the incident it commemorates. They rejoice in its setting, and the appropriateness of its pedestal. They hold, and we go along with them, that here is one memorial which raises the average of our public art and helps support our reputation as the Monumental City.”
That same day, 3,000 people came out to see the dedication (many waving Confederate flags reportedly sold by “hawkers” selling them for just $1 each). The Sun reported on Governor William Preston Lane Jr.’s remarks about the monument to “two men who best typify the gallantry and statesmanship of the Confederacy.”
Emphasizing that the scars of the Civil War have long since been healed, the Governor asserted “our might is the sole remaining bulwark on which the free peoples of the world rest their hopes for remaining free, and to which they look for succor agains the juggernaut of oppression that is threatening to engulf them. The Governor explained the monument”is symbolic of our unity of purpose, as a nation, to preserve those things which our forefathers, and those of our generations, have fought, and in the attainment of them, raised among us men of the stature of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.” “We honor here in this bronze, the character and the ability, the strength of conviction and the devotion to a cause, of two men who were great Americans, albeit they rose in this greatness and enshrined themselves in the hearts of their countrymen in a cause that was lost.”
Writing on May 15, 1948, the editorial board of The Baltimore Afro-American took a different approach, commenting:
Speaking at the dedication of a Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson monument in Baltimore a week ago, Gov. William Preston Lane said that the scars of the Civil War have long since healed. What does he mean, “healed”? The governor is president of a conference of governors of 17 Southern States whose chief goal now is to keep all existing college, university, and professional schools “for white only” and, in general, to oppose President Truman’s program of civil rights for all. Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro of Baltimore said, “we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions. The “sacred institution” which Lee and Jackson sought to wreck was this Federal union of ours. The “sacred institution” they sought to preserve was slavery. Actually both Lee and Jackson were an example of small town rebels who walked roughshod over humble people in an attempt to build a State on the foundation of slave labor. Hitler killed Jews. Lee and Jackson exploited colored people as animals and property. […] These traitors are today held up before us by the Governor of the State, the Mayor of the city, and bishop Noble C. Powell of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and Brother Douglass Freeman of Richmond, Va., editor of the News Leader, as characters to whom we can look for “inspiration”(?) This is pure drivel and tommyrot. So far as the mayor is concerned, we know he was merely making a speech. He doesn’t believe in the confederacy stuff. As for Governor Lane and Bishop Powell, we wonder? If some crack-pot with a diseased brain should leave the city a few thousand dollars with which to erect a memorial to Benedict Arnold, there are probably some church, city and State officials, who could be persuaded by the Daughters of the American Revolution to build it, and to orate its dedication. In Washington this past week the House of Representatives voted to pay the Tampa, Fla., chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy $1000 for damage done to a confederate monument by U.S. sailors on shore leave. The boys didn’t like the rebel statue and toppled it over.
October 1948: Strom Thurmond campaigns in Baltimore, stops at the Lee-Jackson Monument
The States’ Rights Democratic Party (better known as the Dixiecrats) was a short-lived effort to encourage Southern voters to vote in opposition to civil rights by supporting then South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond as a candidate for President. In October 1948, Thurmond travelled to Maryland to campaign in Baltimore. Initial plans, reported on October 1, 1948, called for Strom Thurmond to gather at the Lee-Jackson Monument with Bertram L. Coone, 2d, Maryland Secretary of State, representing Governor Lane; the eight States’ Rights Democrat electors; Miss Frances Munford, women’s chairman for Maryland and other officers of the party.
The next day, the Sun reported on the visit, writing:
Governor Thurmond’s main speech was made last night at the Lyric Theater, after a day of appearances that attracted little attention in the city. […] The next stop of the Thurmond car with its waving flag of the Southern Confederacy was at the Lee-Jackson monument near the Museum of Art. There the Governor was greeted by David Maguire, a Loyola College student, garbed in the rented uniform of a Confederate brigadier-general. Pictures were taken. There was no speech. The crowd was even smaller than the one at the armory. The Loyola College student said the outfit was the idea of The Greyhound, Loyola publication, but did not indicate any support for the States’ Rights candidate. “We might pull another stunt for Governor Dewey or President Truman if they come here,” he said. […] At a press conference in the Southern Hotel, Governor Thurmond said many people “are deceived by the name ‘Civil Rights’ given to the legislative proposals which we challenge as violating these principles.”
In a separate editorial, the Sun plaintively asked “Why Not Leave Lee and Jackson Out of It?” continuing:
The Lee-Jackson monument has been highly praised as a work of art and the sentiment attaching to it could not fail to make it appeal to any southerner. On a sight-seeing tour of the city by a person from below the Potomac it obviously is a must. There will be some, however, who will regret the propagandist aspects attending Governor Thurmond’s visit to the monument, just as they have regretted the use of General Lee’s picture in connection with other public demonstrations of the Dixiecrats. General Lee and General Jackson were professional soldiers who kept clear of politics. Neither was active in the movement for secession that preceded war. When the time came to make a decision, it is true that both embraced the cause of their State against the Federal Union. Certainly in the case of Lee, the decision was made with great reluctance. It may be doubted whether either Lee or Jackson would relish being the symbol of any political party. Since neither Lee nor Jackson is here to express an opinion, or to approve, wouldn’t it be better to leave them out?
1950s – 2000s
On January 12, 1952, the Afro reported under the headline, “Confederate Flag Revives Issues Of Civil War: Historian Says Dixie On Political Offensive Flags, Caps, States’ Rights Talk Smoke Screens To Hide Opposition To Truman’s Civil Rights Program,” writing:
The South is on the defensive. Its violation of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is notorious.
In 1955, a parade by United Nations forces encourages Baltimore to depart from its tradition of flying Confederate flags, as the Sun reported:
“Confederate flags, a fixture of Baltimore parades for years, were missing from the scene and so were the blue and white emblems of the United Nations.”
In 1957, the Baltimore Sun profiled local historian Carroll A. Brice from Annapolis who was pursuing a project to compile the name and enlistment record of “every Marylander who served in the Confederate Army. There were some 23,00 of them—5,000 from Baltimore.”
In 1959, the Maryland state legislature finally ratified the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That same year, Baltimore moved the Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument from Druid Hill Park to Wyman Park Dell (at the southeast corner of the park) to make way for the construction of the Jones Falls Expressway.
In 1961, the Washington edition of the AFRO newspaper reported on remarks by Dr. L.D. Reddick, a professor of history at Coppin State Teachers College (now Coppin State University), at a San Francisco discussion of the centennial celebration of the U.S. Civil War, quoting:
”The Confederate myth that the South loves and seems to be getting the rest of the nation to accept, furnished a psychological barrier to desecration. […] Confederate flags, pageants, songs, and such organizations as the Daughters of the Confederacy and its junior branch, the Children of the Confederacy, pictures and monuments to Confederate heroes - all serve to perpetuate a false image of history and strengthen the old ante-bellum ideals of white supremacy and colored inferiority […]”
In 1973, the Maryland state legislature ratified the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
On April 9, 1997 the Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument was rededicated.
In 2008, Johns Hopkins University declined to rent their facilities to the Sons of Confederate Veterans after 20 years of hosting Lee-Jackson Monument programs on their campus. According to a letter posted to a forum for Civil War reenactors:
Every year since 1988, the Johns Hopkins University has rented the Clipper Room in Shriver Hall, or on several occasions another facility, to the Son of Confederate Veterans to hold our post ceremony social gathering. However this year is different. The John Hopkins University has refused to rent the Clipper Room, or any other facility, to our organization. The sole reason given, per a Johns Hopkins representative, was that we are a “Confederate” organization. Make no mistake about it, we were not denied because the facility was unavailable, or for any other legitimate reason, we were denied because of who we are. In addition, the Hopkins representative stated that this ruling came directly from the President of the Johns Hopkins University, Mr. William Brody.
Baltimore’s experience with Confederate memorials is in many ways typical. Historian Cynthia Mills, writing in Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art, and the Landscapes of Southern Memory, described the consistent character of Confederate memorials:
A clear, narrative style with carefully described figures was chosen for all of the Confederate sculptures, including the less common allegorical or male-female groupings, as the best way to relay their message of southern pride. […] The unveiling ritual […] always included elaborate procession and speeches. Children usually pulled the cord, a potent symbol of the monument’s role in speaking to future generations. In addition to sites in the eleven seceding states, Confederate memorials can be found in a number of other places, including Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, and West Virginia.9
Further, those who claim that art should be separate from politics find little support in the reception of these monuments in the 19th and 20th centuries where the politics of public memory shaped the forms and figures themselves. Historian Kirk Savage in Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves notes:
The aesthetic problems of commemorative sculpture cannot be separated from the more obviously political pressures inherent in this public medium. The dividing line between the aesthetic and the political is in fact difficult to define since the generic characteristics of heroic sculpture themselves carry profoundly political significance. The whole notion of history as a tale of great men is made palpably glorious in the statues of heroes; that glory works to marginalize cultural constructions of the past that might represent other groups and other categories of historical experience.10
Historians and journalists have articulated the connection between the symbolic meaning of monuments (or flags or songs) and their political purpose. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 post—What This Cruel War Was Over—shows how Confederate leaders expressed the connection between white supremacy and the Confederate cause:
The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten.
Between 1880 and the present, the commemorative agenda of Confederate veterans, their descendants and supporters paralleled reactionary efforts to segregate, disenfranchise, and discriminate against African-Americans in Baltimore during the late 19th and early 20th century.
The Civil War Baltimore/Maryland’s Confederate Perspective from Loyola University:
- The First Maryland Campaign. An Address by Brig-Gen’l. Bradley T. Johnson(Delivered February 22 , 1886 at the Fourth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Maryland Line, Army of Northern Virginia). (Baltimore: Printed by Andrew J. Conlon, 1886)
- The Cavalry, A.N.V. Army of Northern Virginia. Address by Gen’l. T.L. Rosser (at the Seventh Annual Reunion of the Association of the Maryland Line, February 22, 1889). (Baltimore: The Sun Book and Job Printing Office, 1889)
- The Maryland Confederates . An Address by Genl. Bradley T. Johnson (Before the Confederate Society of St. Mary’s, March 1894). (Baltimore: J. Harry Trechsler, Printer, no date given)
- Speeches of the Hon. Henry May, of Maryland. Delivered in the House of Representatives at the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress.(Baltimore: Printed by Kelly, Hedian & Piet, 1863)
- Fourteen Months in American Bastilles. By F.K. Howard (Baltimore: Printed by Kelly, Hedian & Piet, 1863)
Local Press Coverage
- Why does Baltimore have so many Confederate monuments?, The Steiner Show
- National conversation on Confederate symbology lands in Baltimore, scrawled in yellow paint, Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun, June 22, 2015
- City, county leaders want to rename Robert E. Lee Park, Yvonne Wenger, June 23, 2015, The Baltimore Sun
- Commission To Decide If Baltimore Should Remove Confederate Statues, June 30, 2015, WJZ
- Kai Reed, Group calls confederate statue divisive symbol of hate: Group asking mayor, City Council for statue’s removal, WBALTV, Jul 01, 2015
- Hogan wants to recall Confederate plates in Maryland, Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
- Status of Confederate statues to be reviewed in Baltimore Mayor responds to possible removal of statues, Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
- Baltimore statue honoring Confederate soldiers painted over with ‘Black Lives, June 25, 2015
National Press Coverage/Editorials
- Vandals target Confederate monuments, paint post-Ferguson slogan in graffiti in 6 states, Jim Salter, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 2015.
- The Confederate flag symbolizes white supremacy — and it always has, Vox, Libby Nelson, June 22, 2015
- What Should Be Done with the US’s Many Confederate Monuments?, Jillian Steinhauer, June 23, 2015, Hyperallergic
- Equality and the Confederate Flag, Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, June 22, 2015
- The next battleground will be Confederate memorials—and the case for removal isn’t so clear-cut, July 8, 2015, Alfred L. Brophy, The Conversation
- Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide, Campbell Robertson, Monica Davey and Julie Bosman, June 23, 2015, New York Times
- Take Down the Confederate Flags, but Not the Monuments, Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts, Jun 25, 2015, The Atlantic
- Beyond The Battle Flag: Controversy Over Confederate Symbols Unfurls, June 25, 2015, Frank Morris, KCUR/NPR
- How Slavery Built Charleston, Brentin Mock, July 20, 2015
The Latin phrase “sic semper tyrannis” is translated “thus always to tyrants.” Virginia has used the phrase as their state motto since 1776.↩
Baltimore’s Taney monument is a recast of the 1872 statue in Annapolis.↩