Calhoun statue should not stand in prominent public space

tags: Confederate Monuments, Calhoun statue

The Rev. Joseph A. Darby is first vice president of the Charleston Branch NAACP and senior pastor at Nichols Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

There’s been considerable recent debate on The Post and Courier’s Opinion pages about the John C. Calhoun statue in Charleston’s Marion Square. A recent letter writer called Calhoun a white supremacist and a racist, another writer objected to that characterization and a recent op-ed urged consideration of Calhoun’s governmental career in properly depicting his life and work.

It might be helpful to allow Calhoun to speak for himself -- he did so in a U.S. Senate speech on Feb. 6, 1837. Calhoun said: “We of the South will not, cannot surrender our institutions. To maintain the existing relations between the two races inhabiting that section of the Union is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both.”

Calhoun said, “It cannot be subverted without drenching the country in blood and extirpating one or the other of the races. Be it good or bad, it has grown up with our society and institutions and is so interwoven with them that to destroy it would be to destroy us as a people, but let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races, in the slaveholding states, is an evil. Far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be, to both, and will continue to prove so, if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition.”

Calhoun said, “I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually. It came upon us in a low, degraded and savage condition, and, in the course of a few generations, it has grown up under the fostering care of our institutions, as reviled as they have been, to its present comparative civilized condition. This, with the rapid increase of numbers, is conclusive proof of the general happiness of the race, in spite of still the exaggerated takes to the contrary.”


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