It is a small plaque, probably not read or even seen by most visitors to the State House, Maryland’s beautiful capitol building in Annapolis. But it still has the power to offend.

Soon, the plaque memorializing the Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War to preserve the institution of slavery will be gone. That is the right thing to do, and the state is finally doing it.

The plaque was erected in 1964 — 99 years after the end of the bloodiest war in American history — by the Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission. Its stated purpose was to remember the nearly 63,000 Marylanders who served in the Union and more than 22,000 in the Confederacy.

But the commission went astray when it stated that it “did not attempt to decide who was right and who was wrong, or to make decisions on other controversial issues.”

That is truly offensive. There is no question which side was right in the Civil War. The North fought to preserve the Union, and the South fought to preserve the institution of slavery. Period.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones, the first woman and the first black person to hold that office, has been pushing for more than a year to have the plaque removed.

The State House Trust, which is responsible for preserving the historic, 18th century building, tried last year to compromise by covering the Confederate battle flag with Maryland’s state flag. But Jones correctly continued pushing for complete removal because of the offensive language.

Removing Confederate monuments, whether small plaques or imposing statues, is the right thing for our country to be doing. It is not an attempt to erase history. It is an attempt to correct the mistakes of the past, when Confederate monuments were raised all over the South and even in Northern cities, to reinforce the culture of white supremacy and resist the push for civil rights.

“The Confederate monuments … did not organically pop up like mushrooms,” W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote in 2017. “The installation of the 1,000-plus memorials across the U.S. was the result of the orchestrated efforts of white Southerners and a few Northerners with clear political objectives: They tended to be erected at times when the South was fighting to resist political rights for black citizens.”

The intended message was quite clear: America is a white nation, and blacks are second-class citizens.

Now, we as a country are grappling with how to keep alive the memory of the past, even the difficult, shameful episodes, without showing honor to those who wanted to tear our nation apart.

In the time of the Black Lives Matter movement, we are reassessing our history once again, with a new resolve to correct the sins of the past.

As part of that effort, it is time to stop honoring the people who fought against the Union, whether with statues, buildings or military base names.

David Petraeus, the retired Army general, sparked controversy recently by advocating changing the name of 10 military bases named for Confederate generals.

“The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention,” Petraeus wrote in Atlantic magazine.

The general said that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point honors Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army, with a gate, a road, an entire housing area, and a barracks, the last of which was built during the 1960s.

Petraeus wrote he was not advocating to erase Lee from West Point, but he added: “remembering Lee’s strengths and weaknesses, his military and personal successes and failures, is different from venerating him.”

James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, said historians have been debating how to remember the history of the war without honoring those who fought for the South.

“One could draw that line at people who took up arms—indeed, committed treason—to defend the rights of some human beings to own, buy, and sell other human beings,” Grossman wrote four years ago.

Now is the time to take on this arduous task, to right the wrongs committed by those who tried to use the symbols of the Confederacy to intimidate and demean black men and women.

(84) comments

buckster

10 day old editorials? The weakest newspaper in the DMV.........(yawning)........

jwhamann

So, every Confederate soldier... even 16 year old Pvt. Johnny Rebel...was a slave owner?

gabrielshorn2013

"You have to understand that the raggedy Confederate soldier who owned no slaves and probably couldn't even read the Constitution, let alone understand it, when he was captured by Union soldiers and asked, 'What are you fighting for?' replied, 'I'm fighting because you're down here.' " Shelby Foote, Historian and Author

mgoose806

The Democrats put them up, the Democrats can take them down.

threecents

Who is "The Democrats"?

DickD

Politically different in today's world, but yes, why not take them down.

jerseygrl42

can't change history by defacing and destruction...that is a ridiculous notion

public-redux

Agreed. Can’t change history by removing statues either. Pure silliness.

shiftless88

I don't think anyone is seeking to change history. Where would you get that notion?

public-redux

I don’t know why you think I suggested anyone is trying to change history.

threecents

Yah, you need a time machine to change history, and even then it is very tricky. See 12 Monkeys.

JohnSchaeffer1

At some point a child will ask a parent "What happened during the Civil War?" and the parent will answer " We don't talk about that ! It might offend someone !"

shiftless88

As the meme says; Satan is very important in Christianity but you don't see a lot of iconography of Satan in churches because they know about Satan, they learn about Satan, they understand the importance of Satan, but they do not WORSHIP Satan.

JohnSchaeffer1

Good grief !

shiftless88

It is funny when people realize their inconsistent beliefs and make statements like "Good grief" because they cannot defend their position.

bosco

Yeah, shiftless88, they usually just yell out Troll or Racist![ninja]

threecents

Shiftless[thumbup]

DickD

The Civil War was a war over slavery, but it started long before the Civil War. The South had a privileged status, prior to the Revolution, as they provided raw materials, such as cotton, lumber, indigo and rice to England. England ignoredthat it was being produced by slaves. But England outlawed slavery and in 1772 a court case in England, Somersetthe vs. Steauart set a slave free and by March of 1773 it reverberated throughoutthe South.

In the North merchants, small businesses and small farmers were not seeing the same privilege. They were pushing for separation from England. With the 1772 court case, Ben Franklin was able to convince the South if they stayed with England their slaves would be set free. Worse yet, white slave owners and their families could be murdered by the ex slaves.

This caused American colonies from the St.Lawrence River to the Okeechobee Swamp to unite as one against the English.

Also, during the War of 1812 British troops marched from Baltimore to Washington, setting over 4,000 slaves free. They went north to Nova Scotia.

des21

I had a psychologist friend who I thought had a very good handle on human interactions generally and he said once that "other adults' feeling are not your responsibility." To think that I can effect or determine other adults' feelings is presumptuous at best, crazy at worst and it will certainly lead to resentment on their part and frustration on mine and yet, as a society is what we are trying to do. It is literally crazy and there is no end in sight.

Part of being an adult is having to tolerate some things you find unpleasant or offensive because other adults have just as much right as you to express themselves- even in public. We probably should have seen this coming once we started down the road of trying to limit free speech in various race-based, sexuality-based, (you name it, what is the persecuted group of the month this month?) ways but somehow we didn't see it. Weird.

shiftless88

They are not your responsibility; so if they tear down a statue and you don't like it then that's not their problem. These are not some person's statues on their private land; these are in the public square.

des21

So freedom of expression, speech and assembly are ok as long as you do it privately? I know you don't mean that because you think you are liberal/progressive but you understand how ridiculous that is right? Maybe, maybe not.

shiftless88

I never said or thought such a thing. I was saying that tearing down a statue on private property is a problem.

des21

I disagree. Our history, warts and all, is our history and it should not be, for lack of a better term, white-washed. In Rome and Athens you can see where slaves were sold. Are we really this immature?

The MSM (see NY Times, WaPo, heck even John Oliver!) mocked Donald Trump (its what they do after all) when he said that Antifa and their "social Justice" allies (BLM) would soon be coming for Washington and Jefferson if we started down the path of censoring our history to their demands. He was right.

What's funny is that they removed a statue of US Grant- probably white supremacists least favorite President- he won the war for the Union and enforce Reconstruction in the South with alacrity!- in San Francisco! These kids are full of Zinn and Chomsky and nothing else- a terrible way to go through life! Any old white guy at this point will do- see TR the "Trust Buster" in NYC. Somewhere the 7 remaining members of the KKK cheered!

SMH.

shiftless88

des; will you are the first one to donate your money for the statue of King George III??

des21

It is true, if I had been alive during the 1770s I would have been a Loyalist like most colonists. (Perhaps supported the Hutchinson plan which was very reasonable.) I am a conservative after all.

We respect authority- even of fallible men and women.

I had no family here at that time- in fact one of my ancestors by marriage was General Thomas Gage. Other, less high born were in the English navy and yet here we are. We came for freedom of opportunity and freedom of association and freedom of speech (the least vital for my people, I come from drone stock.) The second and third are dying here, the first will be taxed away soon I fear. Sad.

Fiver

It is laudable your family came for freedom of opportunity, association and speech. A lot of people arrived here against their will, deprived of any freedom of opportunity, association and speech. If their descendants want to take down a commemoration of their ancestors' oppression, why do you care?

gabrielshorn2013

So Fiver, when do we call up the tanks to the Black Hills to blast away the images of Washington, Jefferson, and Teddy Roosevelt from the face of Mount Rushmore the way the Taliban blasted away the images of the Budda the way the taliban did in Afghanistan? Isn't that the logical progression to tearing down statues that some object to?

Fiver

gabriel, I am sure when our black neighbors log in and see that you have compared them to the Taliban, they will totally understand your point and we will be one step closer to reconciliation.

gabrielshorn2013

Fiver, if you had read carefully, you would see that I compared the practice of removing images that some considered offensive. The Taliban considered such statues offensive, and blew them to smithereens. Were their actions to destroy a World Heritage site justified since they were offended? Do you believe that any image that anyone finds offensive for whatever reason be removed or destroyed? Please explain your philosophy.

Oh, BTW, biracial. Creole. Look it up.

gabrielshorn2013

I admit that I had to look that one up des. Hutchinson provided a rebuttal to each claim made in the Declaration of Independence. Pretty much "what are these people talking about?", with an explanation of each action. It's not something taught in US History classes, but a valuable response to see what really happened before and during the Revolution.

https://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text8/hutchinsonrebuttal.pdf

threecents

How about a statue of Hitler outside the Holocaust Museum or in Arlington Cemetery.

gabrielshorn2013

Why would we put that there three, was Hitler an American? Have you been to the museum three? Do you think there aren't images of Hitler there? There are.

wran

The first slave holder in the American colonies was a freed Maryland black man named Anthony Johnson. He went to court to gain ownership of his first slave who had run away from his Maryland farm.

threecents

Is that relevant to the discussion?

DickD

No, but interesting.

shiftless88

And your point is??

public-redux

The point is that wran has fallen for a debunked myth.

DickD

Not according to Wikipedia. He was ana indentured servant in Virginia, earned his freedom, was granted land in Virginia and came to Maryland later.

public-redux

Dick, I copied this from the Wiki article. See if you can find a hint here that might lead you to conclude that Anthony Johnson could not possibly be the first slave holder in the American colonies.

“In the early 1620s, slave traders captured a man in Portuguese Angola, named him Antonio, and sold him into the Atlantic slave trade. Antonio was bought by a colonist in Virginia. As a slave, Antonio worked for a merchant at the Virginia Company.[2]”

awteam2000

That slave’s name was John Casor. He went to court to seek his freedom but lost. Casor is considered to be the first man enslaved for life in America. The law change made previously indentured Africans now slaves for life, ineligible for freedom of servitude.

The irony is Anthony Johnson’s died in 1870. His plantation was given to a white colonist, not to Johnson's children. A judge ruled that he was "not a citizen of the colony" because he was black.

Fiver

Guess what? Even if a slave trader or owner is the same race as the slaves, slavery is still wrong. I have no idea what you're point is, but should a statue glorifying Anthony Johnson ever be discovered, I am sure people will want it to come down, too.

gabrielshorn2013

So, any statue of someone who once owned slaves should come down. Is there a timeframe for this, or do we start from now into antiquity? Those pyramids in Egypt are going to be tough to take down. All those Roman and Greek structures and sculptures too. What a shame.

buckster

I guess all the Union Generals that served in the Indian Wars, and killed thousands of Indians before and after the Civil War, and forced them off their lands, and into reservations, I suppose we should tear down all those statues as well.

sevenstones1000

Let’s start with getting the murderous Andrew Jackson off the $20. Let’s start there and see what happens.

des21

Let's not. Andrew Jackson is the epitome of the American dream. Orphaned at 14 he was jailed for insolence towards the British during the American Revolution and took up arms- at 15! He became a frontier lawyer, a Lt. General who won the biggest battle on US soil before the Civil War and eventually led the Jacksonian Revolution which expanded the franchise to virtually all white males- a huge expansion of the franchise which led the poor participate.

He led us into the Jacksonian Age of Jacksonian Democracy which killed the original conservative Party (the Federalists) and led to a period of single party rule (the Democrats) and the National level for virtually a generation. Read Arthur Schlesinger's The Age of Jackson and show some respect.

I believe that Native Americans have been the worst treated of all America's growing number of minorities from day one and my charitable giving reflects that belief. t is sad he signed the Indian Removal Act into law but he did so because the legislature demanded it. Not because of hate. Read, learn, grow.

DickD

It was racist.

awteam2000

It’s a problem, systemic, when we tribute people that were inhumane. The trail of tears , the stealing of lands, the stone cold murder of natives shouldn’t be celebrated .

Yes, I can see George Custer’s statue as offensive in the public square. Better fitting for historical parks and museums. Tell the story of the US Aggression, the governing body and the people of the time, the generals carried out the atrocities against Indians, killing thousands of Indians before and after the Civil War, and forced them off their lands, into reservations, we should be ashamed not celebrate. Sorry, they are not worthy of statues of tribute in public or civic squares.

DickD

Custer was a hero for the North at Gettysburg.

shiftless88

Custer wouldn't be the first person who was a hero for a while but then turned out to be a jerk who blew his legacy. He wouldn't be the last, either (Rudy G.)

bosco

shiftless,just goes to show what can happen when you are last in your class.[ninja]

shiftless88

It certainly wouldn't be appropriate to have such a statue on a reservation; can we at least agree on that?

gabrielshorn2013

And last night the "protesters " tore down statues of George Washington and Ulyses S. Grant. GRANT??? The guy that won the war for the Union? Well, I guess fair is fair since his wife's family were slaveholders. Guilty by association?

sevenstones1000

Let’s have a little understanding for the “fog of war”. At least they didn’t kill anyone. Statues can be replaced.

gabrielshorn2013

Fog of war seven? No, the statues were clearly labeled with the honorees names. The "protesters" eyes were clear, and because nobody was killed, we are supposed to say "aw shucks, let 'em blow off some steam and destroy public property." No. There is an opportunity cost to replacing the statue in that the funds used to do so could have gone elsewhere. You can't make excuses for vandalism.

shiftless88

Gabe; how many people were involved in those two acts? 50? 100? out of the literally millions upon millions of protesters. I don't agree with it but the fact is it only takes a few people to do something that is not at all indicative of a movement.

bosco

Shiftless88, good point and you are correct. The actions of a few do not represent those of millions - such as the actions of a few rogue cops do not represent all of law enforcement.[ninja]

shiftless88

Bosco; I certainly agree that a few rogue cops do not represent all of law enforcement. The problem, as I see it, is that even the good ones don't punish those who are bad. And the rules and regulations are such that they get away with it. I have said before that it is the same with physicians; 95% are great but those 95% also tend to build a system that protects the other 5%. So they are complicit. They built the system to protect themselves. That is the problem as I see it.

gabrielshorn2013

Another thought seven, apparently the destruction of personal property is an abstract idea to you, something to be tolerated, even promoted in an attempt to forward an idea. Let's lose the abstraction, andmake it a little more concrete for you. Stop me when you reach your level of tolerance. How about if someone tagged your home or car. Is that OK? Yes? How about if someone smashed your car's windows? How about if someone set your car ablaze? After all, nobody got killed. Can your employer's windows be smashed? How about setting your employer ablaze like the Wendy's in Atlanta? Nobody got killed there, but you are out of work. Now let's move closer to home. OK if your home windows get broken in a "protest"? You know, they're just letting off some steam, protesting a long standing injustice. That's OK? How about if your home was burned to the ground as some were when the business below them was set on fire? There is never an excuse for violence, or destruction of personal property. In doing so, the moral and ethical message is lost, and all people hear is a threat to their safety and property. That is an anathema to the teachings of Gandhi and Dr. King. Lose, lose, and the movement becomes tainted and stalls.

DickD

Have you read the history on Washington and slavery, Gabe? If my memory is correct they - Mt. Vernon had plenty of problems with slavery.

gabrielshorn2013

Oh, I know US history quite well Dick, and have pointed out the hypocrisy of tearing down Civil War statues, while earlier slave owning Founders went unscathed. I even pointed out the issues of slavery in the North, including the actual ending year of slavery in your home state of NY versus when it was abolished. I'm still wondering when the Washington and Jefferson monuments are coming down, and when states, Counties, and Cities will be renamed. Our own Carroll County was named after a slave owning signer of the Declaration of Independence.

sevenstones1000

Civil War generals who did nothing else of note but support slavery have no reason to be honored.

Jefferson and Washington are honored for achievements other than treason against the US government and killing in support of slavery. Do you get it now?

gabrielshorn2013

Oh, ok seven, so there is a relative scale that can be applied. You can be a slaveholder, but as long as you did something good, it all balances out. Got it. The Confederate generals who were doing their patriotic duty to their states should forevermore be tainted, while hypocritical northern leaders who thought Africans to be subhuman are celebrated. You do understand that black people were also reviled in the north, and many riots broke out in northern cities when white men were conscripted to serve in the Union army. You need to read more US history, and not the whitewashed PC version.

DickD

New York State had slaves, The town K lived in and the County didn't. In fact, they risked hug fines to help runaway slaves escape to Canada. There were a number of places that they hid slaves it was part of our history. It was full of Abolitionists. I had two grandfathersthat were in the Civil War. One was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks, outside of Richmond. Another one was at Antietam and Fredericksburg. A Great Uncle was captured at the Battle of Brice's Cmrossroads, taken to Andersonville prison where he died two months later. He's buried there in the National Cemetery.

DickD

Th town I lived in, not k.

shiftless88

Gabe; of course it is a sliding scale. And there is plenty about slavery to be learned upon visiting Monticello or Mt Vernon. It is not hidden.

gabrielshorn2013

Understood shiftless, and I have visited many of such historical sites, both North and South. It just seems odd to me that people don't understand the full history of slavery in the US, only the whitewashed versions, and don't believe that there was slavery in the North too. NJ didn't free their last slaves until the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865, yet they were a Union state.

shiftless88

Gabe, I disagree. The primary issue is not who ever owned slaves or who has a perfect pass. It is that when it came down to it, the South decided they would secede and go to war rather than give it up. Racism in the north was certainly still rampant, but at least they decided that legally they were okay with black people being considered human rather than property.

gabrielshorn2013

Fair point shiftless, but initially the Union forces were fighting for preservation of the Union, and not emancipation of the slaves. Lincoln himself said at that time in a letter to Horace Greeley: "...If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that..." There is no doubt throughout the history of Lincoln's life that Lincoln hated the institution of slavery. But if preserving the Union meant stalling the abolishment of that institution, so be it. It was that shift in mission that many northerners, especially new immigrants who were immediately conscripted into the Union army upon arrival that caused the draft riots of 1862 and 1863, and could have cost the Union the war. No, the newly freedmen were not welcome in the North, which precipitated the worst rioting and riot-related deaths ever seen in the US.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm

shiftless88

Yes, but Lincoln did not accede to their demands regarding slavery so they seceded. He ran on a platform that involved abolishing slavery and the South seceded based on his election. So while those are good details, it nevertheless misses the main point that the south ACTIVELY went to war to keep humans as property. Those people were traitors to our country and should not be revered with statues in the public square.

gabrielshorn2013

Be careful with the word "traitor" shiftless. One side's traitor is the other side's freedom fighter, or patriot. Our Declaration of Independence signers are proclaimed heroes and patriots after the war, but were traitors to the Crown during the war who would have been hanged if caught. It all depends if you won or lost the war for your cause, not whether they were right or wrong. Right and wrong in these cases are abstractions. Our current concept of "country" is quite different now than it was back in the early 19th century. Your "country" was your state. You were a citizen of Maryland or Virginia. Shelby Foote stated it perfectly when he said "Before the war, it was said "the United States are." Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always "the United States is," as we say to day without being self-conscious at all. And that's sums up what the war accomplished." When most confederate soldiers fought, it was because their "country" (state) was at war, and their loyalty was to that state. This is comparable today to "doing your duty" by serving in the military, whether you agree with the missions or not.

shiftless88

Gabe; you point out why there are not statues of George Washington in London

gabrielshorn2013

As is also the case of why there are no statues of Benedict Arnold, despite being the colonial commander that changed the tide of the Revolutionary War for the Colonists after Saratoga. Arnold does have statues in Britain. You are still missing my point about duty to ones "country" (state). You owed allegiance to your State. Where they led, you were supposed to follow. The States were not considered to be one congealed "country" until after the war, hence Shelby Foote's quote.

des21

Sadly you give the "protesters" far too much credit Gabriel. I doubt many of them had any idea who Grant was. Somewhere the 7 remaining members of the KKK are applauding BLM's actions. Bizarre.

JustACitizen

One of the most important and powerful editorials ever from the FNP. Kudos for your courage and compassion.

DickD

And 5,Gabe have to realize that many whites in the North sacrificed their lives to help free slaves.

gabrielshorn2013

Yes Dick, that is a fact that is beyond dispute. It is also a fact that when the mission changed from preserving the Union to emancipation of the slaves of the south in 1853, there was a huge pushback with rioting in many cities such as New York. There were also efforts to stop the war and allow the Confederate states to secede. Read up on Northern resistance to the war, anti-draft rioting, and groups such as the Copperheads. The northern states were not the welcoming panacea for black people that many currently believe they were. Far from it.

DickD

You are confusing New York City with the State of New York, Gabe. . All of my ancestors enlisted and John Brown came from nearby Lake Placid Ox Bow to be exact. John Brown had a lot to do with the start of the Civil War.

gabrielshorn2013

No Dick, I am not. I thoroughly understand that "John Brown's body lies a-molderin' in the grave"...at the bottom of the Olympic Ski Jump in Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. I visited his grave there in the 1980s. You and yours were way up north near Canada, off Lake Ontario. Slavery in the British Empire (including Canada) ended in in 1834 with the Slavery Abolition Act. NY is a very big state. The southern part of the state over the border from PA and NJ had slavery on the farms, and NYC had...ahem..."servants", by another name were slaves. I provided you with a link to NY slavery, with references, previously. Here it is again.

http://slavenorth.com/newyork.htm

http://slavenorth.com/nyemancip.htm

Although the official end of slavery in NY state was 1799, the actual end of slavery there was 1827. In 1790, the black population percentage in NY state was 7.6%, but by 1860 that number dropped to 1.26%. Read up.

gabrielshorn2013

Oh, I should also mention that there were draft riots in several other NY cities, including Buffalo NY.

DickD

You are selecting large cities for the Civil War protests. Any large city will have a fraction that disagrees. What you are saying was not true in the part of New York I came from. And I don't need a website, like you, to know that.

gabrielshorn2013

Of course I chose larger cities Dick, those are what is in the historical record. There may have been protests elsewhere, but they were not recorded because they did not rise to a level of violence the ways the cities did. Do you think anyone would care if there was a “riot” Tug Hill? Were there enough people there for it to be significant? Hardly. I never said that slavery was common near you, now did I? No. However, you cannot say that slavery only existed in NYC either. It existed across the southern half of the state. I don’t need a website to know what I already knew from my decades of reading on the issue. I provided an easily accessible reference for you that provided documentation for you to get over your denial.

DickD

Statues were erected to restrict political rights of blacks? I never thought of it that way. But I am not a Southerner either. Maybe they did

..Either way they are offensive to blacks, so remove them.

timberman

Removing it along with all the other statuses in this country is wrong

Dwasserba

'"...They tended to be erected at times when the South was fighting to resist political rights for black citizens.”'

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