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Showing posts from 2020

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Conclusion): "The Narrator's Narrative"

Newspapers have been a powerful force in channeling the priorities and decisions of elected officials and the public for a long time. To the extent that the Lost Cause narrative has had a role in racist activity since the Civil War, it must be acknowledged that the narrative never would have survived without a pervasive and persistent “narrator” in the form of the newspapers. But we don’t hear about that. We hear about the malignant politicians, judges, racist activists, Confederate veterans, and Confederacy nostalgia enthusiasts, and...the monuments, but not the newspapers.   With the Lost Cause narrative’s originator, Edward Pollard, rescinding many of the more volatile views that he expressed in his first book on the Lost Cause by 1868, it is doubtful there would have been a Lost Cause narrative without the newspapers propagating views and promoting policies that some today believe reflect the tone and sentiment of the Lost Cause narrative.   Vitally important today, though,

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 7): "The Chicago Affair"

Something happened on May 30, 1895, four years after the Pensacola Confederate monument was unveiled, that many probably didn't expect: a Confederate monument was built, not in Atlanta or Vicksburg or Fredericksburg or Manassas. It was  erected in Chicago 's Oakwoods Cemetery  and unveiled in an extraordinary ceremony well attended by veterans of the Blue and the Grey. The monument was  a 30-foot granite column topped with a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier, a figure based on the painting "Appomattox" by John Adams Elder like the one that stands atop Pensacola's Confederate monument. The  Chicago Tribune  published a front page article in  its May 31, 1895 issue  about the event under the headings, "Ends All Ill Will," "Animosities of the Rebellion Buried at Oakwoods," "Blue Joins with Gray," "Confederate Monument Dedication is a Big Success," "Are American Heroes All," "General Hampton's Speech

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 6): "Voices of the Unveiling"

Whatever else was happening in the South in 1891 and afterward, it seems appropriate and important to interpret Pensacola's Confederate monument's origins through the words and actions of those who were directly involved in its christening rather than rely only on concurrent yet potentially unconnected events such as the discrimination and suppression of African Americans, the Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws that were so rampant throughout the South and in other parts of the United States for 100 years after the end of the Civil War. The tortured linkage of the Lost Cause narrative to the construction of the Pensacola Confederate monument implies  that honoring the dead with the monument wasn't merely concurrent with the propagation of the Lost Cause narrative but that it was synonymous with advancing the narrative. It means that in spite of the emotional sentiments expressed at the memorial's dedication, those expressions were cynically insincere because what Pensacolia

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 5): "The Grandest Display"

On June 18, 1891, the day after the unveiling of the Confederate monument, the Pensacola News ran a front page article under the headline “The Dedication” and subheadings “Pensacola’s Confederate Monument Given to History” and “Grandest Display Ever Witnessed in This City.” The article that followed was pure prose, “A grand scene—grander by far, indeed, than pen might adequately picture.” The first section of the article described the crowd that gathered for the unveiling: Ten thousand people on Palafox hill. A vast mass of surging humanity, surrounding a granite shaft on which stood a veiled figure. On balconies, in windows, in some instances on the roofs, of adjacent dwellings were people whose eyes were bent upon that central spot containing the monument. Far down into the different thoroughfares leading to that point the mass had boiled over, and struggling for position from which to gain a better view the constituents of that great concourse caused an ever rolling w

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 4): "Proud Pensacola"

Railroad executive and former Pensacola Mayor W. D. Chipley wrote a letter to the editor of the Pensacola News (the predecessor of today's News Journal ) to encourage the public to support the effort to raise funds for the construction of a Confederate monument in Pensacola. The newspaper published that letter and commented on it in its April 27, 1890 editorial, writing "This noble and timely appeal of Col. Chipley should meet with a responsive echo in the breast of every true citizen of Escambia county. will not be long 'ere a stately shaft will cast its shadows across the daily paths of the sons and daughters of the dead heroes to remind them of the brave deeds of their fathers, and that a brave people delights to honor the memories of those who died fighting for their country." The monument which had been in the works for a number of years had a champion in the local political hierarchy and the Pensacola News . The  Pensacola News  published an alm

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 3): "A Monument Wrapped in a Narrative"

The June 29, 2020  News Journal portrayed the renaming of the square and the subsequent placement of the Confederate monument there as owing to the racist motives that inspired the 1885 Florida constitution and the replacement of the elected Pensacola city government with appointees, the "coup." Then, it said that the renaming of the square and the monument was an outcome of and then a part of a post-Reconstruction revisionist story line called the "Lost Cause" narrative. The article — and the subsequent editorial — advanced the notion  that the construction of the Confederate monument was connected to the "Lost Cause" narrative on very little evidence other than the testimony of historians who made broad and sweeping statements about what happened in those days and why, again without evidence other than their word and the fact that these events occurred within the same span of time. As the Lost Cause narrative goes, Southerners who were vanqu

Pensacola's Confederate Monument (Part 2): "Conflicting Stories"

Again, we can agree that no one currently on the Pensacola News Journal's staff would take the kind of racist stances that it did in its 1905 and 1935 articles, so let's turn to the question of whether the News Journal reached too far in its June 29, 2020 article when it drew connections between the racist activity that was cascading through the South — and in some parts of the North and West — a fter Reconstruction and the construction of the Confederate monument in Pensacola. The first link in that alleged connection occurred when Florida Governor E. A. Perry replaced the elected city governments of a number of Florida cities with appointed members of provisional local governments in what the June 29, 2020  News Journal  article characterized as a "coup." The  News Journal  reported that  "Perry revoked Pensacola's city charter in 1885, along with other Florida cities, and created state-appointed city governments made up completely of white D