A Confederate general who was erased from history

Roundup
tags: Civil War, Confederacy, Confederate Monuments



The conversation these days is about whether Confederate statues should be taken down. Here’s a question nobody is asking: Which Confederate statues should we be putting up?

We don’t ask that flippantly, but rather to pose some questions about Virginia’s history — and its present. There is one Confederate general who Robert E. Lee thought should be his successor if he fell in battle, a general whose organizational skill was so great that his men were “in better fighting trim” than any others, a general who was at Lee’s side at Appomattox and “surrendered more muskets” than any other (probably because his men were “in better fighting trim.”) Why is he not on Richmond’s Monument Avenue and raised on pedestals across the state?

William Mahone became even more famous after the war than he was during it. He founded the railroad that became the Norfolk and Western Railway. He went into politics and was hailed as “the most influential political figure in Virginia since the days of Thomas Jefferson.”

Why are there not statues to Mahone in Roanoke and lots of other places?

The answer is instructive. “Mahone organized and led the most successful interracial political alliance in the post-emancipation South,” according to Jane Dailey, a history professor at the University of Chicago. In time, Virginia’s conservative — and all-white — establishment regained control of state government and instituted the Jim Crow laws that ruled for nearly a century. Supporters hailed Mahone as a “Moses,” Dailey wrote in The Huffington Post recently. Opponents, though, compared him to the Roman traitor Cataline. ...




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