Tag Archives: confederate monuments

Confederates in My Neighborhood

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.05.57 PMThis morning, Kevin Levin called on public historians to do their jobs. He is wondering what folks are doing to “help their communities make sense of the relevant history behind our ongoing and very emotional discussion about Civil War memory.”

I especially like the idea of public historians acting in their own neighborhoods. So here is what I am doing. I live very near the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery. You’ll note that I have posted about this cemetery several times over the past years concerning its many Civil War connections, both to history and popular culture.

Right at the entry off of Santa Monica Boulevard is a somewhat unassuming memorial to the Confederate  soldiers who, after serving their cause, relocated to the west coast and lived out their lives in the great City of Angels. I know that some who regularly visit this monument would hope that Confederate commemorative efforts on the grounds go unnoticed. A representative from the United Daughters of the Confederacy once told me, and I am not making this up, that the neighborhood had “gotten a little dark…if you know what I mean” and that Confederate ceremonies could be asking for trouble. Well, I did know what she meant but in all honesty, I suspect that most people who live in this primarily Latino part of town don’t give a shit about your monument.

But…the location of the monument is right smack in the middle of a heavily trafficked area swarming with tourists looking for Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Dee Dee Ramone, Vampira, and about a zillion other celebrity graves.

Until lately I would have thought nothing of it. But with the controversies surrounding Confederate symbols and monuments very present in the media, I think it time that tourists, not suspecting that they will happen upon a monument to the Confederacy in Hollywood, get a little contextual history.

I have written to the office staff at Hollywood Forever asking how we might proceed with a small interpretive plaque. As I have mentioned, I think these, coupled with QR codes linking to some sort of site with historical information, would be very helpful in parsing through the more contentious elements of Civil War memory. I will keep you posted on what happens.

I will note one last thing. In this cemetery, you will find a  recently erected commemorative stone honoring Hattie McDaniel, the actress who played Mammy in Gone with the Wind and the very first black person to ever win an academy award. She died of breast cancer in the early 1950s and wanted to be buried at Hollywood Forever. But she is buried elsewhere in Los Angeles. In the 1950s, Hollywood Forever was a white only cemetery. So, it seems that at one point the cemetery director thought it fine and dandy to honor those who fought against the United States, but not black Americans. Go figure.

With compliments,

Keith

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.06.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.06.16 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.05.47 PM

Bitter…Table for One?

Screen shot 2014-03-11 at 2.55.31 PMFrom time to time I run across these little gems that I feel I need to share with the world. Here’s one I found while perusing the archives at Washington and Lee University’s Special Collection Department. Back story:  in 1980 (ancient history…) the good people of Darlington County, South Carolina gathered together to rededicate their Confederate monument – on the centennial anniversary of Darlington’s Rebels’ original  tribute to their glorious cause.

The speaker for the day was one William Stanley Hoole – a descendant of Axalla John Hoole, a Confederate Colonel of the Darlington Riflemen who was killed at Chickamauga.  Now you might figure Hoole (the speaker…not the dead Rebel) to be one of those reconstructed types. Let’s see what he had to say…..

Those gallant men and women believed that it was their right to dispel from their lives the economic modernism of the neighbors to the North and thus preserve their own landed conservatism. They shuddered to think that they should ever be forced to shoulder the yoke of Yankee domination. They wanted nothing more than their own country, a country they could love and be proud of, a separate nation, a confederation, a confederacy embracing a cavalier way of life, unfettered by the austerity of Northern Puritanism.

John Brown’s attack on the United States Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry had convinced the most reluctant Rebel that there was no longer any camaraderie between himself and his Yankee counterpart. As one Southerner [E. Merton Coulter] put it, “Black Republicanism has buried brotherhood between North and South in the same grave with the Constitution.”

Our beloved South Carolina, surfeited to the point of nausea by Northern insults and maledictions, as we all know, made the first move toward secession. They simply wanted to be left alone in peace. But the Republican regime in Washington, infiltrated by indecision, deception, and unprecedented machiavelism saw differently. Instead of letting the “Wayward Sister,” as they called our state, go in peace, they seized Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, dispatched addition soldiers, and ignored all appeals for amicable negotiation. These warlike acts at once rendered Fort Sumter a symbol of Yankee domination, an out-right indignity, an international insult, is you please, which could not be overlooked, even by the most ardent seekers of peace.

Yep – he sounds pretty angry, right? But I wonder….is he really “unreconstructed” or just confused? I run across people all the time who claim loyalty to the Union (as did Hoole) – yet pile this sort of inflammatory language high. Many, I find, are very much like their Confederate ancestors. Perfectly willing to embrace the post-war Union, so long as they could commemorate their war on their terms. What do you think?

With compliments,

Keith