By on August 25, 2017

lincolndavis

When considering the way some folks apply modern values to historical personages and events, I often think of two historical truths from the world of fiction. William Faulkner gave us, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” while L.P. Hartley opened his novel The Go-Between with, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

History resonates and rhymes, but things do change.

In America we are currently having a raging debate over whether or not prior remembrances of the past will be effaced because the people remembered were flawed human beings who, in some cases, embraced causes or beliefs many people today consider to be odious. Most recently, Charlottesville, Virginia, has been ground zero for the controversy, with extremists latching on to the issue — resulting in a horrific vehicular homicide.

Peripherally to the events in Chalottesville, the city council of Alexandria, Virginia, has voted to rename the section of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway that travels through their city.

How that road got named after the president of the Confederate States of America more than a century ago — and nearly 50 years after the end of the Civil War — is an interesting exploration into culture, race, and the history of transportation in America.

Before Jefferson Davis was elected president of the CSA, Abraham Lincoln was the duly elected president of the United States of America. Before there was a Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, or at least before it was proposed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (the CSA’s analog to the Daughters of the American Revolution), there was the Lincoln Highway project.

Henry Ford introduced the first Ford Motor Co. automobile in 1903. Ten years later, in 1913, Ford sold over 170,000 Model Ts, more than doubling his production from the year before. In 1913, nearly one million motor vehicles were registered by state governments in the U.S., a figure that would climb by more than a million cars a year until the depths of the Great Depression in 1932. America was on the road (FoMoCo’s headquarters’ address in Dearborn, Michigan is still 1 American Road).

In 1913, though, America’s roads were, for the most part, undeveloped, particularly those that would allow transportation between cities. Into the 20th century, goods and people moved by rail, not roads. Most improved roads were found in the cities. Some counties and townships maintained what were called “market roads” to help farmers get produce to towns, but many states had constitutional prohibitions against expenditures on internal improvements, including roads. Federal highway funding wouldn’t be seen as a need until World War I and really didn’t mean much until the ’20s.

Before World War I, fewer than 9 percent of the country’s roughly 2.2 million miles of rural roads were “improved.” How improved they really were is an open question, as the category included gravel, stone, sand-clay, and oiled-dirt roads, as well as paved brick, bituminous (asphalt), and the few concrete roads there were. The first full mile of concrete roadway in America had only recently been constructed in 1909 on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue.

Until Henry Ford proved his revolutionary concept that technology was most profitable when selling it to the masses, not treating it as a toy for the wealthy, there was substantial opposition to intercity and interstate highways. Some called them “peacock alleys” because only the idle rich had the leisure time to spend touring the countryside in their expensive motorcars. The success of the Model T changed all that, stimulating a number of efforts to improve America’s highways.

The Lincoln Highway was the brainchild of Carl G. Fisher (just one of the man’s many ideas). Fisher manufactured the Prest-O-Lite carbide gas headlights that helped give “brass era” motorcars their moniker, he built what is now known as Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the world’s most famous motorsports event, and also developed Miami Beach.

Fisher loved and raced cars and in building Miami Beach he created one of America’s great vacation destinations. Still, he knew that, “The automobile won’t get anywhere until it has good roads to run on.” In 1912 Fisher started organizing what became the Lincoln Highway Association, dedicated to building a “Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway” stretching from New York’s Times Square to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. Fisher, who understood what we now call infrastructure, wanted the Lincoln Highway to be a catalyst for other roadbuilding projects. He wanted the Lincoln Highway to stimulate “the building of enduring highways everywhere that will not only be a credit to the American people but that will also mean much to American agriculture and American commerce.”

In September of 1912, Fisher held a dinner in Indianapolis, hosting many leading figures in the booming automobile industry and encouraged them to get behind his dream of an privately funded improved coast-to-coast road that would be completed in time for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition then being planned for San Francisco. Fisher thought it would cost $10 million. He soon secured pledges of $1 million from his friends in the car biz, with the notable exception of Henry Ford, who thought it was the role of government to build intercity roads. In time, Fisher would come to see the wisdom of Ford’s position. It didn’t take three years to complete the Lincoln Highway; it took almost three decades.

In July of 1913, after Congress decided to fund the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. instead of a proposed Lincoln Memorial Road from the nation’s capitol to Gettysburg, PA, Fisher’s group decided to name the road the Lincoln Highway and established the Lincoln Highway Association to promote it. They weren’t really going to build a road from coast to coast, rather they were going to create a route by connecting America’s patchwork of existing roads. That route was announced in September 1913, disappointing some city leaders whose towns the route bypassed. Henry Joy, the head of Packard Motor Car Co., had taken a leadership role along with Fisher and persuaded the group to make as direct a route as possible. The initial length of the Lincoln Highway was 3,389 miles and contained many historic roads, including the Lancaster Pike in Pennsylvania, the Mormon Trail, the routes of the Overland Stage Line and Pony Express, and the Donner Pass in California.

To promote the effort, and choose a route through the western half of the country, Fisher and company spent 34 days in 17 cars and two trucks driving from Indianapolis to San Francisco in what was billed as the Trail-Blazer tour.

The Lincoln Highway was dedicated on October 31, 1913, with ceremonies held in hundreds of towns and cities in the 13 states along the route. The LHA estimated that the cross-country trip would take three to four weeks at an average driving speed of 19 miles an hour. The route was marked with red, white and blue signs.

As mentioned, Fisher came to agree with Henry Ford that privately funding road construction wasn’t going to work. By September of 1912, Fisher told a friend in a letter, that “the highways of America are built chiefly of politics…” Most of the LHA’s activities were promotional and Fisher and his associates were masters at getting publicity. Besides embedding reporters from the Hearst syndicate, the Chicago Tribune, and the Indianapolis Star as well as telegraph companies in the Trail-Blazer tour, Fisher hired F.T. Grenells, the Detroit Free Press’ city editor, to work part time as the LHA’s PR man.

Donations were solicited and famous supporters were cultivated, among them Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and then President Woodrow Wilson. When Inuit children in Anvik, Alaska Territory, described as “Esquimaux”, contributed 14 pennies to the effort, their contributions and photos of the coins were widely publicized.

While the LHA could not afford to pay to build the Lincoln Highway, they did build short sections of the route, called Seedling Miles, “to demonstrate the desirability of this permanent type of road construction” and “crystallize public sentiment” for “further construction of the same character.” They worked with an LHA sponsor, the Portland Cement Association, to get cement companies to donate materials for those paving jobs. Improving paving technology was part of the LHA’s efforts, and in 1920, they built an Ideal Section of a Seedling Mile in Lake County, Indiana, to demonstrate a road that would be suitable for decades. Many of the design features of that Ideal Section are still in use today, like banked curves, guardrails and reinforced concrete that was 10 inches thick. The roadway was meant to last 20 years but is still in use today, almost 100 years later.

In 1919, the Lincoln Highway Association promoted the first transcontinental motor convoy undertaken by the United States Army. It took the convoy almost two months to get from Washington to San Francisco, but the trip generated huge publicity and encouraged the federal government to start funding road construction. The most important effect of that convoy was delayed more than 30 years, though. One of the Army officers was a Lt. Colonel named Dwight David Eisenhower. That trip, and seeing Germany’s network of autobahns, persuaded Eisenhower to spur the creation of the Federal Highway Trust Fund and our interstate highway system.

Ten years after the creation of the Lincoln Highway, America had a network of over 200 named highways and trails. A number of trail associations and organizations sprang up to promote them, often charging municipalities or businesses along the routes fees or dues. To make some order out of chaos, the national Bureau of Public Roads and Joint Board on Interstate Highways created a numbered U.S. road system to replace the trail designations, with the support of the LHA. For the most part, the Lincoln Highway was designated as U.S. 30, with other parts being U.S. 1, U.S. 40, and U.S. 50.

Its work mostly achieved, the LHA ended its promotional activities in 1928 with an official dedication to the memory of Abraham Lincoln on September 1st of that year. At 1:00 p.m. on that day, troops belonging to the Boy Scouts of America placed roughly 2,500 concrete markers at each important crossroad on the route as well as minor crossings, and at other intervals needed to keep drivers on the route. The markers had the Lincoln Highway logo, a blue “L” on a white field, flanked with red and blue stripes, along with a bronze medallion with Abraham Lincoln’s image and dedication, and a directional arrow.

When the LHA disbanded, its complete goal of a paved highway from coast to coast had not yet been reached. Disputes with state officials in Utah caused delays and changes in the route. However, by 1938, all but 42 miles of the Lincoln Highway had been paved and those few remaining miles were then under construction.

As mentioned, the Lincoln Highway Association wasn’t the only private organization to identify, name, and promote a route, highway, or trail. The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was conceived by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, in direct response to the creation of the Lincoln Highway.

A southern transcontinental driving route made a lot of sense. Roads were bad enough in the summertime. The Lincoln Highway must have been brutal in the winter.

Still, I’m not convinced that practicality was as important to its founders as creating a distinctively Southern alternative to a highway named after the Great Liberator was. By the early 20th century, the South had risen again, so to speak. Immediately after the Civil War, the South was devastated economically. They couldn’t afford to put up many monuments, statues or even road markers. By 1913, though, the Southern economy had recovered substantially, and the children and grandchildren of Confederate veterans now had the means to commemorate them. It was also a time when the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was ascendant with millions of members, and when racist Jim Crow laws, first passed in the 1880s, became entrenched. Under President Woodrow Wilson’s direction, the federal Civil Service and U.S. armed forces instituted systemic racial segregation.

It would be naive to think that in this environment, the decision to name a highway after the head of the Confederacy in response to something called the Lincoln Highway was simply a matter of commemorating history. The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was also about putting markers down for the Confederacy, 50 years after Gettysburg.

Carl Fisher’s counterpart in the creation of the JDMH was Mrs. Alexander B. White, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Her account of the creation of the Memorial Highway is as follows:

During the Chattanooga Confederate Reunion, May, 1913, while talking to my cousin, T. W. Smith, a Confederate Veteran of Mississippi, highways were mentioned, and I said, “I wish we could have a big, fine highway going all through the South.”

He said, “You can. Get the ‘Daughters’ to start one. The Lincoln Highway is ocean to ocean, you can match that with” and I exclaimed, “Jefferson Davis Highway, ocean to ocean.” All during that summer I considered the feasibility and wisdom of so great an undertaking for the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the probability of my being called on to put my project through.

Later, while I was preparing my report as president-general to the New Orleans convention, United Daughters of the Confederacy, in November, 1913, Mrs. Robert Houston, Mississippi, made this same suggestion to me. This increased my courage and ended my indecision, so into my report went this recommendation: “That the United Daughters of the Confederacy secure for an ocean to ocean highway from Washington to San Diego, through the Southern States, the name of Jefferson Davis National Highway; the same to be beautified and historic places on it suitably and permanently marked.” This recommendation was adopted and the highway project endorsed as a paramount work.

The part about “historic places on it suitably and permanently marked” makes me think that the JDMH was of a piece with the Confederate statuary erected during the same era that is part of our current controversy. It seems to me that at least in part the memorial highway was meant to glorify Davis and the cause of the Confederacy.

That thought is reinforced by two auxiliary routes designated by the UDC. The Lincoln Highway also has auxiliary routes, like the one leading from Detroit to where it meets the main route of the LH at South Bend. The auxiliary routes that the UDC proposed for the JDMH were one from Jefferson Davis’ birthplace at Fairview, Kentucky, south to Beauvoir, Mississippi, where he lived in later years, and a route through Irwinsville, Georgia, following his route at the end of the Civil War before his capture. The Lincoln Highway has no auxiliary route from either President Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky nor his home in Springfield, though the highway passes through Illinois.

You can say that the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was about commemorating history if you choose to, but my mileage does indeed vary. You’ll have to excuse me if I think that bit about following Davis’ route before capture was about glorifying the lost cause.

The JDMH was eventually extended all the way up the Pacific coast by incorporating U.S. 99 when that road was completed in Washington state in 1939.

As with the Lincoln Highway, the JDMH had official markers, with three stripes of red, white and red, and the letters JDH vertically in black. Before WWI, most states had ineffectual highway departments and some of the southern states didn’t even have such agencies, so the UDC was free to promote the JDMH and place its markers on the route. As states’ highway bureaucracies became established, many of the southern states officially designated roads as part of the Davis memorial route, with official monuments.

When the named routes proliferated, inspiring the federal government to establish the U.S. road-numbering system, just as the Lincoln Highway Association did, the UDC lobbied to give the Davis route a singular number across the country. It also appears that they wanted the federal government to officially name the route after the Confederate president, a designation that the Lincoln Highway never received. However, the Bureau of Public Roads repeatedly turned down the request. One of the UDC’s appeals is echoed in today’s debate about Confederate statues, that such monuments are about history. Looking back from today’s unrest over the subject, there’s some irony in that they asserted such commemorations would promote greater national unity.

The Jefferson Davis Highway directors are doing constructive work in every state, and patriotically the women of the United States feel that nothing could tend to the greater unity and understanding of the people than that two transcontinental highways should be named for the two great leaders of the critical period of American history. The Lincoln Highway is, of course, an established fact, and the naming officially of the Jefferson Davis National Highway would be a great progressive step.

The feds were interested in an organized system of roads with numbers, not names. States, however, could call highways whatever they wanted to call them, and the UDC continued to lobby for official designations. They also continued to have designation ceremonies, placing monuments where they could. The UDC really wanted a terminal marker in Washington D.C. but northern congressmen blocked necessary legislative approval. As a compromise, locating the marker in Virginia was proposed. Eventually, in 1946, the Bureau of Public Roads authorized Virginia to erect a 14-ton monument as a terminal marker on the highway, near the Pentagon, on the Virginia side of Washington’s 14th Street Bridge. When it became a traffic hazard due to increased use of the bridge, it was moved in 1964. It’s not clear just where that monument is, if it still exists.

Parts of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway still carry its state-assigned name, particularly U.S. 1 in Virginia and U.S. 80 in Alabama. In 1965 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march from Selma to Montgomery on U.S. 80, in support of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, then before Congress.  In 1996, under the National Scenic Byways Program that section of road was designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as an All-American Road and named the Selma-to-Montgomery Scenic Byway. Furthermore, under the National Park Omnibus Act of 1996, the part of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway that Dr. King marched on was designated a National Historic Trail.

After all of her efforts to get the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway officially named by the federal government, one can only imagine how Mrs. White would have felt about that same government using the road to commemorate Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement.

More complete histories of both highways can be found at the U.S. Dept. of Transportation website:

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/lincoln.cfm

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/jdavis.cfm

Today’s Lincoln Highway Association is a non-profit organization, with chapters in 12 states, dedicated to preserving the Lincoln Highway and its history.

lincolnmarker

Image source: Wikimedia Commons, Lincoln Highway Associations

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86 Comments on “Jeff Davis vs Abe Lincoln: The Highway Edition...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    I personally delineate strongly between political and military leaders when discussing the CSA. For example, I’m generally in favor of things that honor those who died in the CSA, since their orders were to fight a defensive war against an invading force in their home states (with rare exceptions, like Gettysburg). The political forces behind that military were doing the bidding of the elite slave owners. Very, very few fighting men even owned slaves, and even among the wealthier leaders (Lee included), it was a crisis of conscience for them a lot of the time.

    That said, I’m pretty against the idea of naming things for political leadership, who were overtly responsible for secession and the upholding of slavery. There is a fine line, but it’s there. And it’s a line I feel is worth discussing during our current knee-jerk revisionist movement.

    For what it’s worth, General Lee in the years immediately following the war expressed displeasure at even putting up CSA monuments, fearing it would lead to delays in healing the nation. I wonder if any white supremacists — who have unfairly co-opted the CSA battle flag and the Nazi version of the ancient swastika — would even know that.

    • 0 avatar
      ghostwhowalksnz

      Defensive war ? The early days were about expanding the confederacy from the 7 slave states that succeeded to include two border states Kentucky and Missouri, Indian Territory and parts of the Territory’s of Arizona and New Mexico ( which they combined to form Confederate Arizona)
      The Civil War in the west and Mississippi valley was anything but a defensive war. Even in the naval war the confederacy raided Union shipping in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
      The war aims of both sides varied over time of course, the public on both sides clamoured for offensive action. Jefferson Davis, himself a successful general previously, and others evolved onto a ‘defensive-offensive’ strategy. If the North had been weaker the offensive part would have predominated.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The only difference between a Jefferson Davis highway in the US and an Adolf Hitler highway in Germany is that Adolf Hitler actually built good highways.

      There is a difference between the founding fathers and the traitors of the Confederacy, and it is that the Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” While every Confederate state articles of secession mentions only preserving slavery as a reason to commit treason against the US.

      There is not much that the government can do to help black people because there is not much the government can do competently. And that includes, in particular – fake conservatives – law enforcement and the military.

      Affirmative action is not the answer because the best way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. And it mainly hurts first and second generation Asians.

      But one thing the government can do is stop using black’s tax dollars to maintain and protect memorials to loser traitors that committed treason solely to preserve the enslavement and genocide of blacks.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Ronnie, thanks for a very good summary. In Canada we are undergoing a similar re-evaluation of some of our historical figures. A teacher’s union and some Indigenous leaders are lobbying to have the name of our first Prime Minister removed from schools due to his treatment and attitude towards our Indigenous people.

    Thanks too, to Ash for his comments. In North America, due to many issues, too few are willing to review the class aspects of the war and confront the fact that the ‘ruling class’ have too often created/used racial tensions to keep the ‘lower’ classes warring against each other.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Arthur Dailey…I wonder if the Teachers Union wants to spring for the cost of renaming all those schools ?

      If it doesn’t cost me anymore money ? I’m all for it.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Yeah, sure. Despite the fact that their pension fund is one of the largest investment funds in the world and is I believe now the largest shareholder in Highway 407, the most expensive toll highway on the planet.

        Sir John A was a notorious drunkard and indeed based on current evidence favoured a genocidal policy in regards to the Indigenous people of North America.

        However, there are a number of dissimilarities between the reasons for originally naming public facilities after him and the reasons why Confederate symbols were installed.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        For many years there was a school in my district named “Juan De Onate” which was in a neighborhood known as “Sky City” – for those who don’t know why some consider that offensive see the link. (The school’s mascot was the “Conquistador”.)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoma_Massacre

        They did wait until a new school was built (just last year) to change the name to Del Norte Elementary who has the mascot of “The Stars”. (The North Star – get it?)

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      The movement against commemorating Sir John A. is what I have come to expect from a left-wing organization like the teacher’s union. As for the Indigenouus leaders, I wish they would just agree on a list of what they want and stick to it so things can be negotiated. What we are facing in Canada these days is a ridiculous situation, with constantly moving goalposts and various groups being newly offended by commemorations of history.

  • avatar
    mikey

    “I wonder if any white supremacists -who have unfairly co-opted the CSA battle flag and the Nazi version of the ancient swastika – would even know that.”

    I doubt if most of them can read beyond the 3rd grade level.

    See Arthur, there is subjects we can agree on ; )

    • 0 avatar

      It’s very dangerous to think that your opponents are stupid. At least a third of Nazi concentration, labor, and death camp commandants had MDs or PhDs. Many of the jihadi leaders are engineers and doctors. Richard Spencer has a degree from Duke.

      Good is good and smart is smart and they’re not the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Which is one reason why difference to authority, the ‘worship’ of celebrities and the cult of personality can be so dangerous.

        In many instances a person’s accomplishments must be regarded separately from the person.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        This is a good point, and there are absolutely some very smart and very charismatic people in the “alt right” movement. I just think there’s a big gap in the middle of people willing to question their leaders, but plenty of uneducated jingoists willing to go along with whatever the leadership pitches.

        (for what it’s worth, I feel like the left has historically been more inclined to follow cults of personality, including Obama, as long as the message and imagery is appealing. I can’t explain Trump…)

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          Osama bin Laden had a civil engineering degree. In that part of the world it’s common for parents to push their kids into that field so it doesn’t necessarily imply interest… but as a structural engineer, I gotta say the Twin Towers had unique designs that made them susceptible to what happened. They knew what they were doing.

          ash78, I have to disagree with your parenthetical point. It’s out of bias, I admit; my parents came from different countries with right-wing military dictators that still have a small cult following long after democratization. They go beyond anything I’ve seen from fans of Obama or Reagan. It’s hard to compare to Trump because his movement is so recent. But that’s all pretty different from the topic at hand; I don’t think anyone’s actually that into Jefferson Davis himself.

          • 0 avatar
            ash78

            Sure, everything is a matter of degree — my “cult of personality” comment was solely in the relatively tame confines of recent US history. Obviously much of the rest of the world has seen far worse.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        they might not be stupid, but they can be ignorant, which is both bliss and dangerous.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    https://tinyurl.com/ybr8z79v

    But are there any Union Memorials that look as insane as the image above?

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      I drive by the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest often. It’s on I-65 just south of Nashville. Davidson County a few years ago wanted trees planted to block the view from the interstate. This led to the groan inducing joke about the not being able to see the Forrest for the trees. The County was ultimately unsuccessful, I think, because TDOT didn’t want trees planted in the right of way. This statute is on private property so there is really nothing that can be done about it officially. There is also a bust of him in the state capitol building but the law regarding removal of historical items like this are fairly difficult to overcome.

      Our ‘Chip’ statue in Franklin – on the town square that is really a circle – is similarly a private statue on private property. He’s pretty high up so likely safe. There were four squad cars nearby last week just in case. There ended up only being a few harmless protesters for a bit.

      http://www.franklinis.com/historic-monument

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        Forrest is a tricky character…on one hand, his military service was exemplary. On the other hand, he was a war criminal and helped found a large part of the Klan. He’s one of the few examples where I could see justifiable outrage at a memorial — the connection to currently open wounds might be too strong.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Does military acumen alone justify commemoration, or is it necessary to also what consider what ideology or cause that acumen was working to further?

          I could be convinced either way, but my current thoughts are that “this guy was especially good at killing people” does not inherently justify commemoration.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            “Does military acumen alone justify commemoration, or is it necessary to also what consider what ideology or cause that acumen was working to further?”

            It depends on the context.

            Are we talking about putting the guy in a military history textbook… Or for admiring the guy up on a m-f-ing pedestal?

            I’d say that any military leader who was innovative or interesting on the battlefield deserves to be in the textbook.

            But the standard for being admired on a pedestal is far higher: One must be admirable in the moral sense, as well. The KKK and The Confederacy are not/were not admirable in the moral sense.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          How about renaming all of the places named for Nathan Bedford Forrest by changing them to Forrest Gump. He led a far better, humane and more consequential existence as well as having more cultural significance for the country than the confederate loser leader and he was just a movie character.

          • 0 avatar
            ash78

            But Forrest Gump was named for NB Forrest (seriously, it’s in the movie), so somebody would still get pissed off.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Ontario had for decades its on shall we now say, ‘politically incorrect’ highway symbol, that many of us will remember from family trips to Niagara Falls.

    The Queen Elizabeth Way between Toronto and Niagara Falls was the first ‘superhighway’ built in Ontario and probably Canada.

    At the entrance to the highway, in between the east and west bound lanes was: (From Wikipedia) ‘The Queen Elizabeth Way Monument, also known as the Lion Monument, an Art Deco monument. The 1939–1940 monument was built as a decorative marker monument for the Toronto entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) highway. The stone monument consists of a column with a crown at the top on top of a base. On the face of the base section is a profile of the Queen and a stone lion is placed in front of the base. “A snarling, defiant British Lion, eight feet high.”

    It remained in place until 1974 when it was removed to a park when the highway was widened.

    If you look on 2 of the highway bridges you will notice the original ornate light poles/standards that have the symbol for the Queen ‘ER’ in their ironwork.

  • avatar
    Heino

    They are also trying to remove a confederate statue in Old Town Alexandria. Arlington county will also change the name of their portion of the JDMH. I also happen to live two blocks from where congressman Scalise was shot. Good times for politics.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    The way we were:
    The Reading Eagle, 29 September 1906, pg 1, 75 AUTOMOBILES TAKE PART IN THE PARADE, THEIR VALUE ESTIMATED AT QUARTER OF A MILLION, Some of the Cars Were Worth $10,000 Each, and Several Have Track Records— One Of Them Took Its Owner to St. Louis— Many Spectators See the Display— Car Upset at Shillington— Narrow Escape of Occupants, Reading had its first automobile parade this morning. It was a most successful affair held in honor of the races that are taking place this afternoon at the Three-Mile House. The formation of the parade was on South Fourth, Chestnut and South Third. Because of the threatening weather, the machines were slow in coming. But toward 11 o’clock the time for starting, they began arriving rapidly and in numbers that were surprising.
    All Sizes and Styles
    There were 75 in all and if the sky had been clear, the number might have reached the estimate of the committee, 100. The machines were of many makes, shapes, sizes, prices, colors and power, and ranging from the light runabout to among the largest of touring cars. The vehicles represented a value of $250,000.
    There were autos with tops and without tops, one, two and three seaters, maroons, greens, blues, blacks; Wintons, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Cadillacs, Lamberts, Olds, Pope-Waverlys, Pope Toledos, Ramblers, Duryear, Acmes, Maxwells, Relays, Logans, Sterns, Molinos, and other makes. There were both steam and electrics, the latter largely predominating,… A number of the machines were driven by their owners and others by professional chauffeurs. Women operated some of the cars… There were touring cars that have traversed many states of the country…
    This Machine Was at St. Louis, A leading feature was a runabout of the “Rambler” make driven by A.T. Keeley, of Royersford. The machine is a fine one. Three years ago (1903) he took a trip to St. Louis in this same machine, and made the distance of 1,200 in about two weeks. On this trip he stopped at Pittsburg, Chicago, Cleveland and other places, that being the reason that it took so long…
    Dr. Albert F. East was the driver of an eight horse-power Oldsmobile… Charles S. Eisenbrown drove a six horse-power machine of the Pope Waverly Electric Co… Charles S. Peters, Pittsburg, was the driver of a Rambler. It was 8 horse-power…E.E. Pryor drove his Reel, a 30 horse-power car…
    2,300 Miles Without Repairs, Peerless runabout, 30 horse-power… The Peerless car … has run 2,300 miles during the summer without repairs. Forty-horse power Winton…
    Several Thousand at Races, … The Traction Company … put 18 additional cars on this line and gave a three-minute service. The cars were crowded… Hundreds of people went to the race track in autos, carriages and other conveyances. Many rode there on bicycles and motor cycles. Several enterprising owners of autos conveyed passengers from Fifth and Penn to the grounds for a quarter…
    Raced in the Rain… with the first heat in Event No. 1. It was a 5-mile motor-cycle contest. Charles Gufstafson, riding a Reading Standard Motor, won in 7 minutes and 35 seconds…. There were at least 150 automobiles on the grounds and 75 teams.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I was once told that the civil war was not about freeing slave but rather the industrialized north was trying to gain competitive advantage by banning slave in the south. The history of Lincoln vs Jefferson Davis memorial highway seems to prove this theory correct.

    In hindsight, if we kept the nation as an agricultural superpower instead of an industrial superpower, we would have been Argentina instead of USA. USD wouldn’t be the world currency with more than half in circulation outside of the US, oil and other commodities would not be traded in USD, Middle East oil exporters would not be under our influence, and we wouldn’t have a military power exceed the rest of the world combined.

    The confederate lost, but that’s actually good for most of them.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      True, the country is far stronger together than we were apart. However, before that war, states had a much stronger sense of individuality, so in a sense the Civil War was almost analogous to a war among members of the EU. When people referred to “The Government” in the early 19th century. It typically meant the state government. The Civil War was a huge unifying force in this country once the fighting ended.

      Side note: The Confederacy provided about 60% of the world’s cotton at the time the war started. Most of that was purchased by the Northeast and Europe. So in many ways there was this dichotomy of hating slavery on the surface, but completely ignoring (and supporting) it in private.

      Secession was never going to work, and it was just sad all around that it got to that point at all. Today, there would be far more negotiation and concession to ensure a steady supply of cotton while allowing for Abolition. It was very political, and the South very much saw their entire future economies (plural — multiple states) being infringed upon with no viable substitute.

      A valid concern…except for that minor detail about the enslavement of human beings as the cornerstone.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Pre Civil War: THESE United States…

        Post Civil War: THE United States…

        Big difference in meaning.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Very definitely.
          Yes, a lot of politicians still use the “these” when making fancy speeches, but the nation as a whole began to see itself more as a unit, not just a contracted bunch of independent states.

          A GREAT book to read and one that I give as a gift to young people is April 1865, The Month That Saved America.
          It gives a great pre and post war time explanation of this.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    A couple more on observations on history:

    History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes – Mark Twain (maybe)

    and

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

    To have useful markers on history, the bad as well as the good, be careful what you want to flush down the memory hole. These will no longer be there to remind you of past successes and blunders.

    Ronnie, I just read that a Jewish organization is agitating to have NYC remove all mentions, statues, plaques etc of Pieter Stuyvesant, who was both anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. As a cradle Catholic, he wouldn’t have liked me any more than you. But he did found New Amsterdam. Remove all traces of him and it will appear the NYC founded itself – a little confusing.

    Based on the range of opinions that have been expressed over the years, I’ll bet that a days brainstorming by the B&B could lead to the near total obliteration of our history as we all have feet of clay. Show me the man and I’ll find the crime as Beria said.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There is a difference between preserving history and preserving adulatory memorials.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        dal – agreed. I’d be just as happy to changes the names on many roads/buildings/bridges/etc that are publicly funded. Good example closer to today than the Civil War is the 50+ things named after the late Senator Robert Byrd. Among his other accomplishments, Byrd founded his own KKK klavern and became its keagle (leader). I don’t even like it when relatively innocuous spear carriers in the political opera get their name on something.
        Some of those statues would serve better with an added plaque providing some balance rather then just smashing them and pretending the person didn’t exist. Too many people are already bereft of any sense of history.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        dal…how is it different and how exactly is it possible to change history at all?

        History is there…no matter what you try to do. Perhaps you can attempt to interpret or rewrite a view or memory of it for some…but you ain’t gonna preserve or change it.

        There isn’t and never was any perfect person. The best you can get is a percentage on any side of the middle. And what is happening now is simply a few having taken up control of the microphone and claiming to be the voices of truth and morality.

        You will be wasting you time trying to clean up history and doing nothing more than fulfilling George Orwell’s premonition.

    • 0 avatar

      If you took down every statue of someone who was a Jew hater in Stuyvesant’s time, there wouldn’t be many statues from that era. He may not have liked that the city he founded became the biggest Jewish community in the world but on the whole I’m pretty sure that most Jews are happy that Stuyvesant founded New Amsterdam.

      It’s a bit ironic that Stuyvesant was a Jew hater in that the Dutch were about the most tolerant Europeans when it came to the Jews.

      Henry Ford was a bigot who cheated on his wife and humiliated his son in public. In sum, however, I think he changed the world for the better.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Ronnie, this is a really nice piece. Well done.

    “You can say that the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was about commemorating history if you choose to, but my mileage does indeed vary. You’ll have to excuse me if I think that bit about following Davis’ route before capture was about glorifying the lost cause.”

    Absolutely right.

    And it’s always worth remembering, every time the subject comes up, exactly what the Lost Cause was.

    It was about a states’ right. The right to legalize slavery.

    It was about an oppressive federal government. Oppressive because it was clear that slavery would soon be outlawed.

    It was about economics. An economic system that would have undergone a great deal of disruption with slavery outlawed, and that could not compete on an equal basis with Northern industrial cities without slavery.

    Whether you think the aristocracy hoodwinked others or that everyone was complicit, the Confederacy was about one thing only: preserving chattel slavery in the face of opposition that was steadily increasing its political power. Jefferson Davis himself admitted that, nearly all the declarations of secession said it explicitly, and without it there wouldn’t have been support for such a destructive conflict.

    That is why we should study and talk about the Confederacy, but we shouldn’t glorify it through memorials. Arlington and Alexandria are doing the right thing here.

    • 0 avatar

      Though I’ve seen it argued that in the pre-industrial agricultural world cultivating cotton was so labor intensive, it could not have been accomplished in America without slave labor, it’s also pretty obvious that slaves are not very enthusiastic employees deeply concerned about quality control (also, cotton continued to be king in Dixie long after the end of chattel slavery). Furthermore, aristocrats have never had a good track record for knowing how to operate their holdings in a businesslike manner.

      With those two factors in mind, I don’t think the South could have really competed economically with the North even with slavery.

      That’s one reason why I disagree with those who claim that all of America’s wealth is ultimately based on slavery, like whatever fool controls the ACLU’s twitter account.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        Ironically, it was the invention of the cotton gin by a Yankee and the mechanization of weaving by the British that led to the soaring demand for cotton and thus ever larger plantations and more slaves.

        It is doubtful that this agricultural system was long for the world as a monocrop of cotton without soil conservation practices was sustainable for very long.

        As an aside, plenty of New England shipping families got rich in the slave trade so there is plenty of blame to go around. A search for Triangular Trade makes for some interesting reading.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    The case against monuments glorifying the Confederacy does not in fact involve “modern sensibilities” at all.

    Correct me if I’m wrong (at your peril), but the secession and formation of the Confederacy was an act of treason aganst the US. Which makes everyone who abetted and defended it traitors. So why are we erecting, much less defending, monuments to traitors? I can’t think of a reason, much less one that justifies itself by appeals to patriotism. We don’t even have to bring race into the debate. Treason against the Republic has no justification, and no claim on public memorials.

    Just ask Benedict Arnold.

    QED.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      In its true historical context, secession was much more akin to Brexit than it a modern US state attempting to secede. It was still a bad idea, just pointing that out.

      I still find it really weird and ironic that people fly CSA battle flags and American flags together as if they’re intertwined.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Just ask Benedict Arnold.”

      Arnold does have monuments commemorating his service at the Battles of Saratoga and Valcour Island.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      The old ‘act of treason’ argument is such BS. Treason is a crime Committed by an individual, not a state. Secession was a reversal of the state’s original (and willful) joining of the union. Stop this narrative.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Remove Abe everywhere!

    “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”

    Abe Lincoln

    Now. I joked of course. Just leave the American history alone. Nation without history will collapse.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      You’ve left off the worst part which was at the beginning:

      ““I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races … I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people…”

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Ronnie I usually enjoy your pieces, but I really feel like I need a safe space after reading this. Where to begin on all the micro and macro-aggressions – Jeff Davis is obviously a terrible racist, but Abe Lincoln thought all the freed slaves should go back to Africa so is he really any better? And while you mentioned Wilson’s racism, just mentioning his name is a real trigger – in fact I now feel we should try to avoid all words with the letter “W” in them just to keep everyone feeling safe. Henry Ford was a terrible anti-Semite, but perhaps even worse he probably is almost totally responsible for global warming with his production of 15 million emission uncontrolled Model Ts – with a further contribution from all those Carl Fisher gas lamp and auto racing emissions. Eisenhower possibly cheated on Mamie while commanding the Allied forces during WWII, so my feminine side is definitely offended by your mention of his misogynist name. I’m now going to try to calm down by curling into a fetal position and trying to imagine there being no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man – wait a minute – brotherhood? man? – what was John Lennon thinking? Why did he leave out women and the LGBT communities – he’s almost worse than Hitler – oh my god, I’ve been triggered again.

    • 0 avatar

      Bravo!

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Perhaps we should conduct a cost benefit analysis on historical figures?

      For example, I have some Irish Catholic bloodlines and therefore should regard Churchill as an oppressor. Yet I have belonged to the International Churchill Society and hold him in high esteem.

      John A. MacDonald was a drunkard, supporter of the Orange Societies, and oppressor of Indigenous peoples. Yet without him Canada would probably have taken on a far different form, so his overall contributions were most likely positive.

      Henry Ford was a virulent anti-Semite, proto-Fascist and generally abominable human. The assembly line process was in place long before he implemented it at Ford. And the internal combustion engine was already widely in use. Automobiles would have become popular and prevalent without him. But he was the ‘first’ to make them so.

      As for most of the Confederate leaders, can someone explain the positives that they contributed to society or the USA?

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        “As for most of the Confederate leaders, can someone explain the positives that they contributed to society or the USA?”

        Nothing at all. But you had Lincoln’s words – with malice towards none – as sage advice. If the country were to be reunited, you had to tolerate some commemoration just to bind the wounds. 4% of the nation’s men were killed and perhaps a quarter of a million were Confederate. Even with some toleration, the resentments simmered a long time. When my mother was in a parochial grade school 70 years after the war, her teacher, a nun, had two flags in the classroom – the North Carolina and Confederate flags – no Stars and Stripes. And it was the War Between the States, not the Civil War.

        Today, the various civil rights laws possibly create a bigger divide with the Civil War period US than the US of that time and place had with the Roman empire. So, time to reevaluate. I’d sooner a more complete disclosure of history on statues bases than removing the statues altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Arthur, I’ll try to uncurl from my safe fetal position to give you an answer. Many of those Confederate leaders were American heroes before the Civil War, having served with distinction in the Mexican-American war and other important military posts (Lee was also commandant of West Point). Very few of the leaders or the soldiers were slave owners (Lee had slaves only through marriage, but so did US Grant – and remember it was legal), and most did not join the Confederacy to save slavery, but because they felt strong connections to their home states, which I think is very hard for us to understand at this point in time with the great rise in the power and prestige of the US Federal government since the Civil War. Many were also great military leaders, which is why the South was able to stay in the war so long despite major disadvantages in the army size and financial/industrial power, and why their campaigns and leadership styles are still studied today. They were also as a group decent god-fearing men who took no pleasure in killing. Lee lost honorably and used his reputation to start the healing process after the war, and also to save Washington University (now Washington and Lee University). Joe Wheeler later served with distinction as a US general in the Spanish American war. James Longstreet also had a very admirable post-war career, but is not so revered in the South because he committed the sin of becoming a Republican. Yes they would mostly be considered racists by today’s standards, but so would virtually all historical figures in the North and elsewhere until at least the 1960s. It is also interesting to speculate how we would look at them today if the South had gained its independence – after all, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc. were all British citizens when they revolted against King George, and would have been hung if the Americans had lost the Revolutionary War, but instead they were revered, at least until recently, because they won the war.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        So…then how would you revise the standing of John Kennedy?
        Or perhaps his sicker, younger brother Ted?
        How would you separate their evils, or from the evils of their immoral family financial gains, versus their worth and contributions?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Jack Kennedy was an incredibly flawed individual but he pulled the world back from the brink in 1962, and he tried to do right for the nation in other ways. Everything has been downhill since the palace coup on 11.23.63.

          His father was a bootlegger and a mobster, he should always be remembered as such. The differences between he and Cosa Nostra are he came from a white political family, he was able to establish political connections prior to bootlegging, AND he was affiliated with bankster elites on Wall Street. One should stop and think a little bit about FDR and the company he kept.

          “Kennedy embarked on a career in business and investing, first making a large fortune as a stock market and commodity investor, and market manipulator. Employing tactics no longer legal on Wall Street, Kennedy profited from the stock market crash of 1929, and thrived during the Great Depression caused by the unscrupulous activities of “investors” such as himself. ”

          “During World War I, he was an assistant general manager of a Boston area Bethlehem Steel shipyard, through which he developed a friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy.”

          “During Prohibition, Kennedy gained a reputation as an importer of illegal liquor from overseas. After Prohibition ended in 1933, Kennedy consolidated an even larger fortune when he traveled to Scotland with the President’s son James Roosevelt to negotiate contracts for distribution rights for Scotch whisky.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_P._Kennedy_Sr.

          Ted should have hung for treason after 1984, and at the very least been charged with manslaughter after Chappaquiddick in 1969. Laws are for the little people.

          “It looked as if she were holding herself up to get a last breath of air. It was a consciously assumed position…. She didn’t drown. She died of suffocation in her own air void. It took her at least three or four hours to die. I could have had her out of that car twenty-five minutes after I got the call. But he [Ted Kennedy] didn’t call.

          — diver John Farrar, Inquest into the Death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Edgartown District Court. New York: EVR Productions, 1970.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chappaquiddick_incident

          “Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

          “On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

          Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

          Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

          First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

          Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

          Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

          Kennedy’s motives? “Like other rational people,” the memorandum explained, “[Kennedy] is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations.” But that high-minded concern represented only one of Kennedy’s motives.

          “Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988,” the memorandum continued. “Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic Party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president.”

          Kennedy proved eager to deal with Andropov–the leader of the Soviet Union, a former director of the KGB and a principal mover in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring–at least in part to advance his own political prospects.

          In 1992, Tim Sebastian published a story about the memorandum in the London Times. Here in the U.S., Sebastian’s story received no attention. In his 2006 book, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, historian Paul Kengor reprinted the memorandum in full. “The media,” Kengor says, “ignored the revelation.”

          “The document,” Kengor continues, “has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery. Kennedy’s office did not deny it.”

          Why bring all this up now? No evidence exists that Andropov ever acted on the memorandum–within eight months, the Soviet leader would be dead–and now that Kennedy himself has died even many of the former senator’s opponents find themselves grieving. Yet precisely because Kennedy represented such a commanding figure–perhaps the most compelling liberal of our day–we need to consider his record in full.

          Doing so, it turns out, requires pondering a document in the archives of the politburo.

          When President Reagan chose to confront the Soviet Union, calling it the evil empire that it was, Sen. Edward Kennedy chose to offer aid and comfort to General Secretary Andropov. On the Cold War, the greatest issue of his lifetime, Kennedy got it wrong.

          Peter Robinson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a former White House speechwriter, writes a weekly column for Forbes.”

          https://www.forbes.com/2009/08/27/ted-kennedy-soviet-union-ronald-reagan-opinions-columnists-peter-robinson.html

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            thanks for all the great information.

            I would only say that saying Kennedy “was incredibly flawed individual but…” continues the enabling of history’s flaws. Reducing his “flaws” makes his victims less so.

            But I do agree that this judgment is needed and the issue is its impossible to do. It becomes selective and subjective, allowing for “today” to interpret “yesterday” with our having the real yesterday around from which to really judge.

            That is as impossible as it is for me to judge a woman’s pain and actions during pregnancy…in 1845.

            We just last month lost our youngest boy to CIC Dux4 sarcoma after 8 month’s of brutal, painful trying. Everybody was attempting to judge and advise from around the world and the country. But I quickly realized how off they were, not understanding the emotional situation in live, real time. They had no sense of the doctor’s emotions or the life and death decision making in the moment.

            You soon realize the need to be in the moment to understand what’s really true. Same with history and why great historians try to go directly to spots and places in history to get the better feel of the land and people, although even this is lacking.

            And one last thought…

            I often get asked if I “feel” my gentle giant Jeffrey around me? I remark that I certainly hope not. How horrible it would be for him to find out this REAL dad. If our thoughts were connected to megaphones, we all would be put into homes for the mentally ill and violent.

            Itis better he keep the dad I placed before him, myself and others…not the real, flawed dad.

            No..we are all flawed,through millions of years of random genetic change. It is the modern world’s job to recognize and control these flaws.

    • 0 avatar

      Woman is the WHAT of the world?!?!!?

  • avatar
    FrozenCanuck

    The Jefferson Davis (and others) controversy has even reached into Montreal in the Great White North. A plaque in the downtown area was removed last week from a building indicating the location of the post-Civil War house where his family lived for about a year after serving his imprisonment. The plaque was erected in 1957 by the UDC. The city was also briefly home to John Wilkes Booth and the base of operations for the Confederate “St Alban’s Raid” in 1864. Montreal was also one of the terminus points of the Underground Railroad.

    History is so complicated.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    We should not put any names on buildings, roads, or anything else since someone at some time and point could be offended by that name. We should use numbers only just so long as 666 is not used in any sequence which could offend certain religious groups. We all need to be more politically correct.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I understand the sensitive nature of displaying a Confederate flag and memorials to the Confederacy or a Nazi emblem but my concern is that anything can be construed as offensive to a certain group. There are much bigger issues to be concerned about. I am not for endorsing the actions of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, or any other hate group but we also should not be so politically correct that anything could be construed as offensive.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…construed as offensive to a certain group.”

      In this case, the “certain group” is around 80% of the American population.

      The confederacy was one of the darkest moments in American history. People today are absolutely right to revile it and everything it stood for.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        FreedMike – the latest polls suggest that 60+% of the public agrees with Trump about leaving the Confederate statues alone. Polls also show that no more than 25% of the public even knows anything about the Civil War including who fought in it. Don’t you know Robert Lee is on ESPN, and Jeff Davis is the real name of some rap singer. Meanwhile, after 30 years on Capital Hill and 4 years as Speaker of House, Nancy Pelosi just realized that there are Confederate statues in the Capital building.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Your first 2 sentences are a chilling indictment of the American educational system.

          Remember that the majority of these statues were erected long after the war. They were symbolic of the revisionist ‘lost cause’ history that was then in vogue in the South. And they were meant to remind the African-American population of who was in charge. Hence their positioning near court houses, government buildings, etc.

          Therefore, as long as the oppressed people are aware of them and their symbolism, the remainder of the population does not need to be.

          Moving them to battlefields and cemeteries could be acceptable, but not at or near the ‘seats of power’.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            If you look at the original media coverage of the various statue ceremonies and park dedications at the time, you find that most of the statues were enacted to commemorate the 40th or 50th or 75th anniversaries of key points of the war or to mark the birthday/death anniversaries of various local heroes. It had nothing to do with keeping the black man down, because the Democrats were already doing that very effectively with the KKK and Jim Crow laws that had already been around for 30+ years by the time the statues went up.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Arthur, here is a writeup of what was said at one of these statue events in 1948 – racism was not the issue.

            http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/08/democrats-then-and-now.php

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Stingray: Thanks for the link. Here are a number of articles from different sources that refute that. It is generally accepted that the statues were erected as most statues are for ‘propaganda’ purposes.

            Much like the statues that dictators put up for themselves, to celebrate their power/control.

            http://www.history.com/news/how-the-u-s-got-so-many-confederate-monuments

            http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-on-confederate-statues-2017-8/#the-monuments-further-the-post-war-narrative-of-the-lost-cause-2

            http://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544266880/confederate-statues-were-built-to-further-a-white-supremacist-future

            https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/8/18/16165160/confederate-monuments-history-charlottesville-white-supremacy

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      “…anything can be construed as offensive to a certain group.” Not to devalue this, but it’s been observable for a long time. My two favorite examples:
      “When correctly viewed, everything is lewd.” – Tom Lehrer, “Smut” (1965)
      “A thing’s a phallic symbol if it’s longer than it’s wide.” – Melanie Safka, “Psychotherapy” (1970)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @FreedMike–If you have lived on the coasts or the Northeast only then you would have no idea of what these statues mean. I myself don’t care but it is not prudent to remove the statues all at once but they should have been removed quietly over a period of time. As some others have stated the Civil War is not just about slavery but about states rights and economics. Northern industry was more concerned about the Southern plantations selling their cotton to England at a higher price and buying English goods such as clothes, farm implements, and furniture from England. The North even threatened to go to war over the South not selling all their cotton to England and buying their stuff from the North. Abolitionist were considered a fringe group that even most of the Northerners could not identify. The Emancipation Proclamation was done more for strategy than for humanitarian purposes. Slavery was wrong but the Civil War was more economic than humanitarian. If the North was concerned about treating everyone equal then why did the North not treat all their soldiers equally including blacks. Why did the US Army run the Native Americans off their land which they had long before the white man came to the Americas? Did we really civilize the Native Americans and improve their lives or did we do it for our own self-interest? There is a history of injustices. It would actually be better to leave the statues of the Confederacy and allow statues of the history of slavery and the injustices it brought. We should not revise history but show the good and the bad. Much easier to critique from an arm chair and from today’s perspective. The USA has not always had the most altruist motives when it comes to its actions.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree Arthur they should be moved away from governmental institutions and public parks to cemeteries and maybe to civil war museums. I do believe moving them too quickly and with so much publicity has stirred the white power and their opposition up. It would be better to do it over a period of time and quietly. Aside from these confederate symbols I do believe that we as a society have become too politically correct and less tolerant of others. There is a happy medium between saying and doing whatever you feel like at the expense of others and being afraid to express your opinion for fear that someone might be offended. Someone could be offended by your flying the American flag in America or flying your Canadian flag in Canada. A religious group could be highly offended by a woman not covering her head and wearing short skirts and high heeled shoes out in the public even though that woman is either in America or Canada. We have to have some tolerance for others and get along. I am not talking about extremist or hate groups but the average person that is trying to live their lives without intentionally harming or offending anyone. I have gotten to the point where I would rather not even speak or go out. Even Merry Christmas can be offensive to some and some might be offended by Seasons Greetings. Maybe its best not to decorate for holidays, display your country’s flag, and just not interact with people.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @stingray65–Thank you, good article. Having one great grandfather fighting on the Union side (I have his calvary sword) and another great great grandfather that was on the Confederate side (no he was not a plantation owner nor did he own or have slaves and his grandfather was a patriot in the American Revolution). Neither man was a member of a hate group and went back to farming living their lives and bettering their communities. It is better to not glorify the Civil War but it is not good to just revise history or sweep it under the rug. We should learn from history.

    I current live in Kentucky which is famous for horses, bourbon, and fried chicken. Several years ago Kentucky changed their state logo to “Unbridled Spirit” with a horse and put this on Kentucky license plates. There was a big controversy with the religious right demanding that Kentucky eliminate this offensive symbol and remove it from all license plates because it promotes anti-Christian values by promoting drinking and gambling. A compromise was reached with the State first offering a free blank sticker to cover up this offensive symbol and later offering license plates with “In God We Trust”. Kentucky is know for its horse country with beautiful blue grass and rolling hills. I choose to have the license plates with “Unbridled Spirit” even though it might offend some. Maybe I should ask for the sticker to cover that up and therefore I won’t offend the religious right but then I don’t want to have in “God We Trust” because it is offensive to atheist. It might be better if the state issue a new plate with just the state name.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Jeff, glad you thought it was interesting. My Norwegian immigrant great, great grandfather basically got off the boat and joined the Minnesota volunteers and survived the war to become the last surviving Civil War veteran of his county. My father is a retired history professor, and I learned from him that you can’t judge the people of the past by the standards of today. Of course this means that you should also know the history of the time to understand why people did the things they did 50 or 500 years ago, which so often seem to offend some group today. Unfortunately, most social justice warriors in journalism, academia, politics, or ANTIFA don’t know anything about history, and/or learn their history from leftist historians that dominate the discipline and tend to think Western Civilization is the worst thing ever. In contrast, I think Muhammad Ali got it right when he was asked after the rumble in the jungle fight against George Foreman what he thought of Africa, and he replied: “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat.”

      As for license plates – the first ones were simply numbers with a year and state name, but state tourism boards and various NGOs decided the plate’s high visibility was just too valuable to not use to promote various causes, which of course now offend someone or another.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Jeff, like most ‘grunts’ you wonder if they really knew what they were fighting for?

      For example WWI was one of the most misunderstood wars in history. It was more than anything a battle for economic domination not a fight to protect ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’.

      WWII was one of the few ‘good wars’ because there is little doubt that winning it was necessary and the cause was a good one. Yet, Modris Ecksteins in his book ‘The Rites of Spring’ makes a compelling case that the socio/political/economic views of the Allied leaders/nations were actually replaced after the war by those of the Axis. Unfettered belief in modernity and science, that all ‘progress’ is good, public spectacles (including the Olympic symbols introduced in Berlin), concentration of industry ownership, use of the media in campaigning and yes even clothing styles, post-war took on the ideals and trappings of the Fascists rather than pre-war ‘western’ traditions/beliefs.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Arthur, Thanks for the links, but they all suffer from the same problem – guilt by association. Statues went up during Jim Crow = racist intent. Only the Vox article provides any reference to a specific racist element that was directly tied to a particular statue at the time it was installed, and I’m sure that was true in a few instances, but that does not mean it is common. If you take the Lee statue as the center of the Charlottesville controversy, it was given to the city by a coffee tycoon from Chicago who retired in Charlottesville. The statue was sculpted by two artists with zero connection to the civil war. In fact Henry Shrady who was the main artist had just completed a sculpture of US Grant on display in Washington DC, which went up the same year as the Lee sculpture (1924). I suspect if you were to look at the dates when most of the Yankee statues and memorials went up in the North you would find a very similar timeline as in the South – would that also be a sign of racism? The WWII memorial in DC went up in 2004 – 60 odd years after the war. The Korean war memorial in DC went up in 1995 – 40 odds years after the war. Thus it seems that when veterans get old and gray we often put up memorials to remember their deeds and sacrifices, and it was the same for the Civil War.

        I agree with your Rites of Spring reference, however, at least as it pertains to much of Western Europe after WWII. Churchill got voted out before the war was even over and replaced by a Labor government that nationalized several industries, enacted government run health care, raised taxes and controlled the economy with rationing and strict import/export regulations – just like Hitler – although without the slave labor and death camps. See the link to Nazi economic policy and it compares very much to FDR New Deal, and post-war England, France, Italy, Spain.

        https://mises.org/library/nazi-economic-policy

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Arthur – here is another one that uses original information from the time of the memorial unveiling in Knoxville. Here again, no racism involved and memorials to both North and South built at about the same time and for the same reason – to honor the soldiers that died on both sides.

          http://www.knoxmercury.com/2017/08/25/times-remorseless-doom-two-monuments-fort-sanders/

  • avatar

    I want to thank everyone for the civil discussion.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @stingray65-Good comments, thanks. We should not judge the past by today’s standards. Future generations will question why we did things the way we did and see us as not evolved which seems to repeat itself with each generation. Most of my father’s family came after the Civil War and his mother’s family came off the boat from Germany in the late 19th century. My mother’s side has a long history from being Revolutionary War patriots and being the first to settle in Kentucky before it became the 15th state. One of my fathers ancestors (which would be mine as well) came from Eastern Europe and was Jewish. The USA is a melting pot and that is something we should be proud of. At the same time our ancestors blended in and became loyal to their new country.

    @Ronnie–Thanks for the article. The discussion was good.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @stingray65–Read the article about the Knoxville memorial what a great article. We need to remember those who fought on both sides and not be so quick to pass judgement.

  • avatar
    manu06

    Why not let the communities where the monuments are located vote on whether to keep
    or remove the monuments ? If the people of New York vote to remove the
    Christopher Columbus Memorial let them. It shouldn’t be left solely up to the Mayor.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Because celebtating genocide is indisputably bad, even if it’s popular.

      There’s a reason this country (despite common misconceptions) is not “majority rule”.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Because five hundred years later suddenly this is relevant? Cui bono?

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Steve – you are of course right that all those statues, parks, squares, schools, and cities that were named after Columbus were about celebrating his genocide of the natives, which was “the proud achievement” the Italian-American communities and their mostly Democrat benefactors could all rally around. Unfortunately, the Italian-American community is no longer an important Democrat voting block, so the Democrats can now win votes from their various “hate Western Civilization” voting blocks by taking Columbus off his pedestal.

      • 0 avatar
        manu06

        It isn’t minority rule either or any individual interpretation of history
        that should decide societal shifts. I prefer using
        the ballot box although I am aware there are others
        who would just claim the moral high ground to
        peruse their agenda .

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Better to learn from history than bury it and repeat the mistakes.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Ronnie–Your historical posts are really good. I would like to see more of those posts related to the history of automobiles and the early days of automobiles. Automobiles have changed our lives starting with the Model T. I really believe that this type of history needs to be taught in our schools besides just wars and political figures. Youth would take a much greater interest in history. How the average person lived and how their lives were changed due to major historical events and technological changes such as the industrial revolution and the rise of the automobile industry in America and the effect these events had on the average person.


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