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Confederate Monument (Removed)

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1889, M. Casper Buberl, sculptor. 2020, removed. S. Washington and Prince sts.

For some time, May 24 was celebrated as the Southern Memorial Day (in contrast to the North's May 30), and on that day in 1889, this statue was dedicated. Buberl's "Appomattox" (colloquially known as “Johnny Reb”) is a bronze soldier standing atop a pedastal, with arms folded and looking off toward the South. Its location in the middle of the original main north-south road through Alexandria was deemed symbolically appropriate by the statue's sponsors: not only was this the city's mustering point for Confederate soldiers, it was also Alexandria's most prominent intersection. This, according to contemporary accounts, "rendered the monument more conspicuous from a distance than would have been the case had it been placed in any other section of the city.” When, in the 1930s, South Washington Street became part of Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, efforts to relocate the sculpture failed; it remained in place, highly visible to thousands of motorists every day. As the twentieth century wore on, though the statue's owners, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, continued to regard it exclusively as a memorial to the war dead, many other Alexandria citizens, and African Americans in particular, viewed it as an unavoidable reminder of Virginia's defense of slavery. In the twentyfirst century, calls for the statue's removal from the heart of historic Old Town gained traction, and by 2016, the Alexandria City Council supported its relocation. In June of 2020, in the wake of nationwide anti-racism protests, the statue was removed; at present, the pedestal remains in place.

References

“Unveiling of the Monument,” Alexandria Gazette, 24 May 1889, p. 2.

Sullivan, Patricia. “131-year-old Confederate Statue Removed from Alexandria Intersection,” Washington Post, 2 June 2020.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
Updated By: 
Gabrielle Esperdy
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Data

Timeline

  • 2020

    Statue removed.

What's Nearby

Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Confederate Monument (Removed)", [Alexandria, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-AL30.

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