Downtown’s Naked Confederate Birdman Unflapped By Renamings

Spirit of the Confederacy Statue, 1000 Bagby St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002

Spirit of the Confederacy Statue, 1000 Bagby St., Downtown, Houston, TX 77002Chronicle reporter Gabrielle Banks snaps a fresh photo of the Spirit of the Confederacy, the well-labeled century-old statue standing around by the lake on the west side of Sam Houston Park (near the split of Allen Pkwy. into Lamar and Walker streets downtown).  The statue’s placement was funded in 1908 by Houston’s still-active Robert E. Lee chapter of the national United Daughters of the Confederacy and is inscribed to “all heroes of the South who fought for the principles of states rights.” Despite the statue’s unambiguous Confederate sympathies and nearness to City Hall, the bronze statue has largely flown beneath the radar of the past year’s scrutiny of Houston school and street names.


HISD’s planned renaming of 8 schools currently honoring Confederate soldiers is still receiving some pushback following the board’s May vote confirming most of the changes (including a Lanier-for-Lanier swapout). An alumnus of the high school historically known as John H. Reagan (planned for conversion to Heights High School instead) claims to have former ABC13 reporter-turned-investigator-for-hire Wayne Dolcefino on board to help them pull together a lawsuit against the school district.

Photos: Gabrielle Banks (statue), City of Houston (placard)

Sam Houston Park

23 Comment

  • That is one awesome birdman. Hilarious plaque though. Only in the religious south does states right trump basic morality, dignity and humanity. Marvelous how little things change in 150yrs.
    Tired of the school names though. Let the kids vote it out and tell the parents to go wipe themselves at home.

  • What’s your point? Is this an attempt to build feaux-outrage and get the statue removed? I’m so very sorry you are offended! Just like the re-naming of these Houston ISD’s schools, what a waste of money/time/effort. Will people only be happy after we’ve completely white-washed the history of Houston and this country? Let’s replace this with a Quanell X statue, am I right?

  • I see an opportunity for a modern repeat. A local church could donate a statue of the Goddess of Liberty, in honor of the four-times-married Kim Davis, “For Her Valiant Defense of the Sanctity of Marriage.”

  • Remove the plaque and put it at the head of the gay pride parade every year.

  • Thank you for bringing this up. I say remove this symbol of ignorance and hatred whose only purpose is to spread the lie that “state’s rights” were the cause of the Civil War and not slavery. History is what it is, but glorifying the most shameful part of this state’s, and this country’s, history is simply insulting.

  • In all this renaming frenzy, has anyone considered renaming Houston itself? Sam Houston was a slave owner and opposed abolition. Maybe the whole city should just be renamed Historyless or something.

  • @Quantum, to say the civil war was all about slavery is also a lie. All historical research that’s more advanced than a high school book shows that slavery was a rallying cry but it was a mere facade for much deeper arguments festering for many decades. There was one respected historian ( modern and non-biased) estimated that slavery was about 30% factor in the war the rest were indeed states rights, economic policy differences, and even international alliances.

  • Let’s be clear here. The war WAS about state’s rights, they’re right about that. But what the Seshes always leave out is, the state’s right they were on about was the right to keep slaves. The inconvenient truth is, that is spelled out in no uncertain terms in most of the rebel state’s own Declarations of Independence. Otherwise, don’t you think those Confederate-flag-waving “Southern culture supporters” would also be waving those glorious Declarations in everyone’s faces?

  • The rip it out and melt it down folks miss the point on these things. This statue (and things like it – a monument in the center of Santa Fe Plaza in New Mexico comes to mind) are valuable and instructive historical artifacts in their own right. The citizens that placed the monument were expressing what they considered high and noble thoughts, offering a window into the working of their minds. Given that window, it is up to us to consider what we see through it, evaluate it, and use it as a teachable moment for future generations. Refusing to destroy it does not mean we agree with the memorial, it just means that we see valuable lessons for the future in it.

  • People should get back to work. It is our history. You can’t change it. Beautiful statue, ugly memory. But just because it is ugly, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Took a huge dump out in that park one time. Got a pic.

  • As statues go this is actually one of the more stylish and attractive monuments, with a great location to boot, in the city of Houston.

  • first world problems…..

  • Build a museum around it. Stop erasing our shameful past and start putting it in context.

  • Putting this statue in a park named after Sam Houston is especially ridiculous.

    Sam Houston was an ardent, even strident Unionist and vehemently condemned the establishment of the Confederacy as illegal and extremely unwise.

    His exact and very prescient quote about it:
    “Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.”

    Putting this statue in Sam Houston Park was not only stupid on its face–just like our futile, costly rebellion–it was a-historical. Move it or sell it.

  • Sam Houston’s other quote, about the legality of the Confederate convention and the Confederate “loyalty” oath:
    “Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.”

  • It won’t be long before some metrosexual snowflake is “triggered” and it is removed.

  • Its quite clear that slavery was the cause of *secession*. There were other issues, however with all of them seemingly related to slavery in some way. However, the cause of the civil war itself, as *open warfare*, is much harder to state with precision.
    There was a period of time between the secession of South Carolina in December 20th, 1860 and the Battle of Fort Sumter (also in SC) in April 12, 1861 during which it was not yet entirely clear whether there would be war. It seems difficult to argue that there would have been a reconciliation, but war was not necessarily in the cards. For a period of time, Lincoln seemed to tread the situation very carefully so as not to empower hawkish voices on either side. The CSA for its part sent a delegation to negotiate the purchase of federal property, but that was unsuccessful.
    Lincoln most likely could have withdrawn federal troops and many stockpiles from the CSA as his predecessor James Buchanan had done and continued on his policy of withdrawing other federal resources and services without demanding the repatriation of federal gold, and if he had done that, could very likely have averted the civil war. Once it became clear that the CSA was the CSA and wasn’t coming back, however, the order he gave his generals to stand their ground was the surefire way to mobilize hawkish nationalist sentiment on both sides and invoke a war. I would argue that it was Lincoln’s personal decision to have a civil war. I don’t see very much evidence that it was fought for the sake of abolitionism; and actually, if there’s any just cause for there being numerous sovereign governments around the world in order to rule over regions with disparate populations, cultures, and economies, then there was probably not a terrible fundamental reason for the CSA to exist. Lincoln disagreed and through his actions brought about the civil war.
    Now, to be sure, there was a lot of idiotic nationalist propaganda on both sides. Northerners underestimated the popularity of the Southern cause. Southerners overestimated the popularity of their movement in the eyes of Europe and never even received official diplomatic recognition. In that and other respects, ordinary people made ordinary decisions, most of them quite shortsighted and moronic, and very little has changed between then, the day that this statue was commissioned, and the present day.

  • Glad to see someone else coming in to mention the Sam Houston thing. I just find it so ironic that people always seem to crow about the importance of “remembering our history” when it comes to this, yet so few of them even knew Houston’s stance on the confederacy.

  • The Confederate war was about states’ rights. But it was almost completely the right of the southern states to be white supremacists. The designer of the Confederate flag, William T. Thompson said the following about the flag:
    “As a people we are fighting to maintain the heavenly ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause. Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.”
    The records of the Confederacy are stacked with documentation showing clearly that the end of slavery was feared because it would disrupt what many believed was a divine order of the races where whites were superior. This article has lots of examples:
    The Confederates were white supremacists through and through. Any attempt to spin the Confederacy into some sort of race neutral political movement is just laughable.

  • Leave it up forever unless you want to rename the city as Sam Houston evicted the governing Mexican authority. Perhaps the city can rename Hermann Park and Hermann Hospital as the donor was a confederate soldier.
    HISD cant educate its mass of minority children but can engage in the stupidity of renaming schools when the children probably couldnt tell you the dates of the Civil War within 50 years or who even fought or that not one confederate was ever convicted of treason.

  • Speaking of white supremacists:

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that 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; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.” -Abraham Lincoln

    When is the all out blitz to try and erase him from history?

  • That Lincoln quotation comes from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Lincoln’s views evolved considerably as he saved he Union & ended slavery.

    Sam Houston didn’t get his statue until 1924 because of his pro-Union views. His opinion of Jeff Davis: “He is ambitious as Lucifer, cold as a snake, and what he touches will not prosper.” Davis spent the last years of his life creating that “States Rights” story. Declarations of Secession all listed the preservation of slavery & white supremacy as the primary reasons.

    I think the birdman is supposed to look tragic. To me, he looks pissed off, staring at diverse Houstonians enjoying the park. More pathetic than offensive.

  • The South seceded to protect the institution of slavery. Specifically, the real issue of contention was whether slavery would be allowed to spread into the western territories, which would eventually become states. If the western territories became free states, then when those states’ representatives and senators entered Congress, southern representatives and senators would be outnumbered.
    Texas’ motivation was clearly slavery: Just read the the State of Texas’ “Declaration of Causes” for secession, passed in February 1861. See
    Regarding states rights … If you read Texas’ declaration, you’ll see how Texans at the outbreak of the Civil War were complaining about how northern states were ignoring the fugitive slave clause of the US Constitution (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3). In essence, Texas was complaining about how northern states were exercising their states’ rights!