The Great Texas Confederate Statue Roundup

Events that took place overnight at the University of Texas in Austin may have repercussions for Houston: Workers under cover of darkness removed 2 statues of Confederate generals and one of a Confederate government official from prominent display on campus. University president Gregory Fenves announced that the bronze statues would be relocated to the university’s Briscoe Center for American History — after events in Charlottesville last weekend made it “clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.

The statues depicted Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston and Confederate postmaster John H. Reagan. A fourth statue, of former Texas governor “Big Jim” Hogg — also known as dad to the developers of River Oaks and to Houston matriarch Ima Hogg — was also taken down, according to a university spokesperson only because it was part of the set (2 years ago, a likeness of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson that was symmetrical with another statue moved to the Briscoe Center, that of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis, was taken from the main mall and put in storage.) According to reports, the sole remaining statue on either the UT main or south mall depicts George Washington.

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Earlier in Houston, protestors converged Saturday on the Spirit of the Confederacy statue (above) at Sam Houston Park downtown; the park had been closed down earlier in the day for a wedding.

Photos: Carlos Garcia (Lee); Gabrielle Banks (Spirit of the Confederacy)

Down in Austin

16 Comment

  • GW owned slaves, so his will be next to go.

  • GW never took arms against the U.S. Government.

  • Pity the poor couple who chose that day for their wedding.

  • There’s a theory that says the important thing the person is known/celebrated for should determine whether a statue stays or goes (i.e., “describe this person in 50 words or less”). George Washington is not known for fighting a war with his own country-people to own slaves, but as a founding member of our country. Though he was a slave owner, it was the practice at the time. Contrast with the Confederate leaders, who rose to prominence as fighters for a practice that was known to be evil. If there are Confederate leaders who are also known for something that is to be celebrated (such as putting Lee in front of an orphanage he founded), then there’s a strong argument for keeping that statue. Otherwise it’s merely Lost Cause glorification, which isn’t historically accurate, and with most of these statues, completely out of context (e.g., middle of a park, usually reserved for someone who deserves high praise).

  • Vivienne – ahhh so it’s not about slavery but those who took arms against the U.S. Government??? Well this is a whole new ballgame. Let the pc fun begin.

  • @Vivienne: “GW never took arms against the U.S. Government.”

    Well, neither did former Texas governor “Big Jim” Hogg. That didn’t stop them from taking down his statue too.

  • Oh, don’t you worry, they’ll find something Hogg and Wilson did to keep their statues from the light of day. Cultural Marxism has a pretty well laid out plan. We will be renaming our streets and cities soon to appease these lunatics. Nothing is beyond the need for hand wringing and concrete logic in regard to history for them. Welcome to Leningrad comrades.

  • @ Travelguy: Exactly. Not sure why people have such a hard time understanding why statues erected during Jim Crow to celebrate the defending of the institution of slavery might be a wee bit bothersome for many folks.

  • I find it amusing that white people defend these statues – really guys, you don’t get to have a say in this – of course you don’t get why black folks find them offensive! You’ve been trying to re-write history since 1865 – it ain’t workin’ any more!

  • We are a nation of laws, not of men. So it always pleases me whenever we venerate men less and law more by removing statues of men. Still, if we remove every statue, nothing will have changed, for those who wish them removed. It would be really nice if that would change things, but it won’t.

  • @heightsite As a black man, I find your statement offensive. Concerning “The Spirit of the Confederacy” statue downtown, I think every citizen of Houston, at least, regardless of ethnicity, has a right to express his or her opinion on the matter. I am not offended at all by this particular statue.
    Let’s think about this: This particular statue was erected in January 1908, fewer than 43 years after the Civil War ended. I’m pretty sure there were actual daughters of Confederate soldiers still alive at the time. Their fathers died fighting for a cause they believed in. They loved their fathers. They wanted their fathers remembered. I can only imagine their feelings, but they seem more than reasonable to me. It appears to me that the standard “Lost Cause” argument doesn’t apply here.

    Also, let’s think about this: Was Sam Houston Park segregated in 1908? If it was for whites only at the time, how could the erection of this particular statue be offensive to black people who wouldn’t even see it?

    I think this particular statue should be left where it is, but I am afraid something will happen to it without protection. And I wish this debate had never come up. It’s just dividing people.

  • I’m a white guy, and I get it, I even support the removal of statues to men who were known for their roles in the confederacy.
    .
    It was irresponsible however, of UT to remove statues of Hogg and Wilson. These two people are not, and were not known for having any part in slavery, but by removing their statues with the others stupider people will assume they had something to do with slavery. Since stupider people are the ones that are being violent about this stuff, well, it’s not good. UT responded as they should have, swiftly, but they responded with a swipe of the arm across the chess board, rather than picking up the pieces that needed to be removed.

  • “If it was for whites only at the time, how could the erection of this particular statue be offensive to black people who wouldn’t even see it?”
    .
    That’s right. Not only you should you not be offended by this statue, said some white people to some black people in 1908, you are not even allowed to see it! Proof of its benignity! Something else not offensive that black people were not allowed to see: KKK meetings.

  • @Progg By the way I am not offended by KKK meetings themselves. First Amendment. Illegal acts are something different though.

    My point is that I don’t think that particular statue was erected to offend black people, because, if the park was segregated in 1908, black people wouldn’t have seen it anyway. I refer back to my daughter/father statement as far as why it was erected.

  • @Bill
    Interesting. So for something to be offensive it has to be illegal first? And conversely, any legal act is, by default, inoffensive? Have you really thought about this much?

  • @Progg Yes I have. Please stop extrapolating or “putting words in my mouth”. My comment was about “The Spirit of the Confederacy” statue downtown.