Virginia’s Monuments War

(Catesby Leigh, Bacon’s Rebellion) In Charlottesville and Richmond, the fate of historical statuary hangs in the balance.

Charlottesville’s public spaces suffered major degradation after George Floyd’s killing, thanks to the removal of five noteworthy statuary works erected between 1909 and 1924: a Confederate sentinel known as Johnny Reb perched on an elaborate pedestal flanked by two cannons in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse; equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; a Lewis and Clark monument that included the crouching figure of their Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea; and a monument to Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, famous for his exploits in what became the Northwest Territory.

This tribute to the “Conqueror of the Northwest” included seven figures in a scenographic tableau, with Clark alone on horseback as his party encountered a group of Indians.

Except for the Johnny Reb, these monuments were the work of noted artists and individually designated on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Landmarks Register. All, again excepting the Johnny Reb, were donated by an exceptionally generous philanthropist, investment banker Paul Goodloe McIntire (1860–1952).

And all ran afoul of racial-grievance activists…

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