- Nov 2005
Why Were Confederate Monuments Built? : NPRYet many historians say the argument about preserving Southern history doesn't hold up when you consider the timing of when the "beautiful" statues, as Trump called them, went up.
"Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past," said Jane Dailey, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago."But were rather, erecting them toward a white supremacist future."
The most recent comprehensive study of Confederate statues and monuments across the country was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. A look at this chart shows huge spikes in construction twice during the 20th century: in the early 1900s, and then again in the 1950s and 60s. Both were times of extreme civil rights tension.
In the early 1900s, states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise black Americans. In the middle part of the century, the civil rights movement pushed back against that segregation.
James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, says that the increase in statues and monuments was clearly meant to send a message.
"These statues were meant to create legitimate garb for white supremacy," Grossman said. "Why would you put a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson in 1948 in Baltimore?"
Some people proclaim these monuments are "historical" but ignore the reality of what history they are meant to celebrate.