If you’ve ever taken a road trip through the rural South, you’ve probably passed a Confederate monument. Whether standing at the county courthouse or in a traffic circle at the heart of town, these monuments are common in the South. In fact, by one estimate there are more than 1,500 of these monuments in public areas around the U.S. Efforts in recent years to remove these monuments to the “Lost Cause” have led to protests; the most notable event, of course, resulted in a death and almost two-dozen injuries at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017. Without taking sides in the controversial “Should they stay or should they go” debate, here are a few noteworthy Confederate monuments around the country.
5. Jefferson Davis Monument Historic Site
Standing out like a colossus in the middle of rural countryside in the tiny town of Fairview, Ky., this 351-foot-tall monument is hailed as the tallest unreinforced concrete obelisk in the world. It’s part of the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site honoring the Confederate president’s birthplace.
4. Confederate Defenders of Charleston
The vast majority of the Confederate monuments include figures resembling the soldiers who fought in the war. They’re holding rifles, manning cannons, charging into combat, etc. This well-known monument in Charleston, S.C. — where the war began at Fort Sumter — features figures resembling Roman gladiators. The base reads, “Count Them Happy Who For Their Faith And Their Courage Endured A Great Fight.” It was dedicated in 1932, an era when many Confederate monuments were erected.
3. Monument Avenue
As the second and final capitol of the Confederacy, Richmond has deep ties to the Civil War. Running through the heart of the city, Monument Avenue originally featured five monuments to some of the Confederacy’s greatest heroes, including Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. Several are enormous — the statue of Gen. Lee astride his horse, unveiled in 1890, is 60 feet tall including the base. In the mid-1990s, city leaders voted to add a sixth monument, honoring African-American Richmond native and tennis legend Arthur Ashe, a decision that sparked controversy.
2. Confederate Monuments in the U.S. Capitol
Expect to hear much more about this issue in the near future, as the vast majority of Americans are unaware that there are 10 statues honoring Confederate heroes inside the U.S. Capitol. The capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection, created in the late 19th century, honors two historic citizens from each state. Robert E. Lee (Virginia) and Jefferson Davis (Mississippi) are among the 10 Confederates honored in the hall. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) recently issued a statement saying, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol.” On the other hand, President Donald Trump noted that efforts to remove these monuments around the country are “changing history.”
1. Stone Mountain
Within days of the Charlottesville tragedy, some Confederate monuments and memorials around the country had quietly been removed. And there were renewed calls from politicians and the public to remove the largest Confederate memorial in the U.S. — the enormous carving on Stone Mountain in Georgia. The memorial, featuring Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, is the largest bas-relief carving in the world.
This is not the first time people have called for the carvings to be removed from Stone Mountain. The NAACP made that request following the 2015 Charleston church shooting. However, that move is seen as unlikely, as it would require approval of the Georgia legislature. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, which helped erect many of the Confederate monuments across the South, commissioned the Stone Mountain work in 1915. That same year, the modern Ku Klux Klan was born right there at Stone Mountain.