Thursday, August 17, 2017

USA : Removal of Confederate symbols

The Civil War ended 152 years ago, but roughly 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy still exist in public spaces today, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The list of controversial relics includes 718 statues and monuments, 10 major US military bases and 109 public schools that bear the names of Confederate leaders such as Gen. Robert E. Lee.

  • On Monday, August 16, 2017, protesters toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina. 
  • On Tuesday, Democrats called for the removal of the 10 Confederate statues in the US Capitol building. 
  • In the early hours of Wednesday, workers protected by armed police removed four statues in the majority-black city of Baltimore. 
  • The NYC mayor announced a review of "all the symbols of hatred" in the city

  • A campaign is gathering momentum in the United States to remove monuments to the pro-slavery Confederacy.

    A vandalized Confederate monument in Baltimore

    Toppled statue of a Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights advocacy group, there are more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy on public land, mostly in the South.

    They include monuments, memorials, statues, public schools, highways and county and city names among others.

    Here is a brief look at the three major figures in the Southern iconography and their chief symbol, the Confederate battle flag:

    - Robert E. Lee -

    The Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia was at the center of a violent rally

    Virginia state police in front of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, where white nationalists organized a "Unite The Right" rally.

    Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870) is the most venerated of the Confederate generals and there are more than 50 public schools named after him alone, according to the SPLC.

    Born in Virginia, the son of a Revolutionary War hero, Lee attended the US military academy known as West Point and spent three decades in the US Army.

    In 1859, Lee, then a colonel, led a party of marines sent to the Virginia town of Harper's Ferry to put down a raid by abolitionist John Brown, who had seized the local arsenal in hopes of inspiring a slave insurrection.

    Brown was captured and hanged but his raid is considered by many historians to be the catalyst for the Civil War.

    In 1861, upon the outbreak of the conflict between the North and the South, President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee command of the Union forces.

    Lee declined, saying he could not take up arms against "my home, my family and my native state of Virginia." In June 1862, Lee, a slaveholder, took over the Army of Northern Virginia and led it until his eventual surrender in April 1865.

    Following the war, Lee became the president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, a post he held until his death.

    - Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson -

    Statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson were removed in Baltimore, Maryland in the early hours of August 16, 2017

    Thomas Jonathan Jackson (1824-1863) is considered one of the most tactically brilliant generals of the Civil War and ranks just below Robert E. Lee in Southern adulation.

    Born in Virginia, the deeply religious Jackson was a graduate of West Point and was decorated for bravery during the Mexican-American War.

    He became a teacher at the Virginia Military Institute in 1851 and was commissioned as a colonel upon the outbreak of the Civil War. Jackson earned his nickname, "Stonewall," at one of first major battles of the war when another general is said to have rallied his men by saying "There stands Jackson like a stone wall."

    Jackson went on to regularly outfox Union armies in the Shenandoah Valley with rapid movements which led to his "Stonewall Brigade" becoming known as "Jackson's foot cavalry."

    Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men on May 2, 1863 and died eight days later, a loss that was a major military setback for the South.

    - Jefferson Davis -

    Jefferson Davis Memorial in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Installed in 1911 at Jeff Davis Parkway and Canal Street; removed in 2017.

    Jefferson Finis Davis (1808-1889) was the president of the Confederate States of America from its founding in 1861 to its defeat four years later.

    Born in Kentucky but raised in Mississippi, Davis was a graduate of West Point and served in the US Army. Owner of a big cotton plantation in Mississippi, Davis was a staunch supporter of slavery and possessed scores of slaves during his lifetime.

    He represented Mississippi in the US House of Representatives and the Senate and served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce from 1853-1857.

    Davis resigned from the Senate in January 1861 after Mississippi voted to secede from the Union. He was named the provisional president of the Confederacy the following month.

    Davis was captured by Union troops in Georgia in May 1865, a little over a month after the fall of the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. Davis was imprisoned for two years awaiting trial for treason.

    But he was released in May 1867 and President Andrew Johnson issued a pardon and amnesty to former Confederates on Christmas Day the following year. Davis died in New Orleans in 1889.

    - Confederate battle flag -

    The red, white and blue Confederate battle flag is one of the most recognizable -- and divisive -- symbols of the secessionist South. The flag has a red background and is emblazoned with a blue 'X' that features 13 white stars.

    The stars stand for the 11 states that seceded from the Union plus two others -- Kentucky and Missouri -- which finally did not formally join the Confederacy.

    The flag stirs up markedly different feelings among Americans.

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