Workers take down the Confederate Robert E. Lee statue, erected in 1884 by ex-Confederates and white Southerners, in New Orleans, La. Friday, May 19, 2017. The New Orleans City Council voted to remove the statue 16 months ago in Dec. 2015 and three other monuments that have already been removed including a statue of Confederate Jefferson Davis, Confederate P.G.T. Beauregard, and the white supremacist Battle of Liberty Place White League monument. The Lee statue was first unveiled during the Jim Crow racial segregation era with Davis and Beauregard in attendance, and also two daughters of General Lee. The monument was placed in what once was Tivoli Circle or Place du Tivoli. New Orleans only spent 15 months in the Confederacy and spent the majority of the Civil War under Union control when the city was captured in 1862 with zero casualties and Tivoli Circle was used as a camp for Union soldiers during the war.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

There is a reasonable compromise solution to the Confederate-monuments controversy:

Lee Circle. Put Lee back and place Grant’s statue alongside him, with Old Glory in-between. Add a historical plaque (a) describing the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse and (b) explaining how the South’s defeat preserved the Union and ended slavery. Rename Lee Circle, Union Circle.

Jefferson Davis Monument and Parkway. Put Davis back. Add (a) Lincoln’s statue and (b) a plaque stating, among other things, their roles in the Civil War and honoring Lincoln for preserving the Union and ending slavery. Rename the parkway North-South Parkway.

Beauregard’s statue. Put Beauregard back, along with an equestrian statue of William T. Sherman, his northern foe who accepted Beauregard’s surrender near the conclusion of the Civil War. A plaque with Beauregard/Sherman war details and accounts of Beauregard’s life should be placed between the statues.

The Liberty Monument. Put back this stinging rejection of Reconstruction in Louisiana, but encumber it with a statue and biographical plaque honoring P.B.S. Pinchback, the African-American, Reconstruction governor of Louisiana. The plaque should include an endorsement of Reconstruction as a precondition to reestablishing the Union and assuring the end to slavery.

The explanatory historical plaques at each monument site must be entirely dispassionate and factual, so that each monument is a lesson in history, not an exercise in political correctness.


clerk of court, Jefferson Parish