CLIO 7 (1) - page 61

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The recent “Unite the Right” rally, carried
out to protest the removal of a confederate statue
in Charlottesville, brought into the public eye the
legitimacy of these statues and caused great con-
troversy over whether they should remain standing
in many American cities. The progressive removal
of monuments in Southern states contradicts the
President’s obstructive statement of there being
“blame on both sides” regarding the violence in
Charlottesville, proving his inability to see the injus-
tice around remaining monuments. While it could
be argued that the removal of said statues was one
step in the right direction, many judged this as an
act of ignorance: an attempt to forget a violent past
in a belief that racism could be eradicated through
the destruction of a few statues.
Robert E. Lee’s and Stonewall Jackson’s
memorials are only two of the many statues which
commemorate those who fought as part of the
Confederacy: the states which seceded from the
existing Union of American states in 1861. The split
occurred for a number of reasons; the election of
Abraham Lincoln, a candidate not even includ-
ed on the ballots of Southern states, marked the
presidency of someone whose party's origins had
emancipation in mind. The economy of many of
these southern states relied almost exclusively on
slave labour, and thus it can be understood why his
campaign of emancipation caused so much con-
troversy, so much so that his name was removed
from Southern ballot papers. Due to a direct split of
theWhig party in previous years, Democrat voters
had to choose between several fragmented par-
ties, resulting in a small majority for Lincoln and his
republicans. His policies threatened the status quo
in the South and these states demonstrated their
opposition by exercising their apparent constitu-
tional right to secede and form their own confed-
erate union, matching that of the existing Union of
northern states.
Before the Civil War, the United States
was split economically three ways. In the North,
a process of industrialisation was underway: with
factories and industry proving to be the most
beneficial sources of income. In theWest, a middle
way between North and South was established,
here smaller farms and family-owned ranches were
utilised to build assets. Meanwhile, the Southern
states were reliant on agriculture and thus built
huge plantations and made use of slave labour to
farm and harvest. The election of a man who prom-
ised to end slavery clearly did not bode well in the
South, threatening their predominant method.
Secession then occurred, forming the Confederate
States of America, containing the southern states
of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama,
Georgia, Louisiana, andTexas. The Union of North-
ern states did not recognise the Confederacy as an
independent country and, after an attack on Fort
Sumpter, a Union fort in South Carolina, the north-
ern Union declared war with the Confederacy.
The ensuing Civil War between north and
south led to the emancipation of American slaves,
however even by the end of the war there remained
harsh discrimination towards African Americans,
especially in southern states. In fact, many of the
statues whose legitimacy is currently being ques-
tioned were built during the JimCrowe era of 1877
- 1950, where new laws were introduced to inten-
tionally discriminate, victimise and alienate African
Americans, as is exemplified by the main policy
of an “equal but separate” lifestyle that evidently
promoted nothing equal. It is therefore clear that
“So, this week it’s Robert E.
Lee,” Trump said. “I notice that
Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I
wonder is it GeorgeWashington next
week, and is itThomas Jefferson the
week after?You know, you really do
have to ask yourself, where does it
stop?” –Washington Post
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