Category Archives: Monuments

The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument (Monument part 4)

The Maryland Daughters of the Confederacy raised money from private donors and commissioned an allegorical statue which was erected in 1903 at Mount Royal and Lafayette Avenues. It shows a winged figure of Glory supporting a dying soldier whose flag droops from his right hand. The angelic figure holds aloft the wreath of glory, and the base of the monument bears the inscription GLORIA VICTIS (glory to the vanquished). Vandals defaced the monument with paint in 2015 after the Charleston church shooting and again in August of 2017. Those who fought on the other side were honored by a larger, complementary statue dedicated to the memory of Union Soldiers and Sailors in 1909 in Wyman Park and not yet defaced or removed.

The impious barbarity of desecrating a memorial to the fallen is depraved enough, but the complicity of the city government in achieving the perverted goals of the destroyers is profoundly disheartening. A defining trait of the English is a sense of fair play. Abide by the rules, and when the contest is over, it’s over, even if the winner cheated. Not so in third-world countries. Not so in Afro-Baltimore.

And believe me, it’s not over yet. Friends who still live in the city are deeply distressed by the loss of the monuments but feel helpless. “The statues were being vandalized,” they say. “The city couldn’t protect them.” Well, the Women’s statue wasn’t vandalized, beyond a small amount of the usual degenerate graffiti on the granite base. And the large, beautiful Francis Scott Key monument has been splashed with paint, as has a dear little statue in Patterson Park of two children holding a copy of the Star-Spangled Banner. Maybe it’s just too late to save anything. Maybe Baltimoreans have simply lost the will to keep their heritage.

Meanwhile, around the Inner Harbor, expensive condominiums are rising above the skyline. The very rich don’t care about the past, or about inconvenient liberties of ordinary people such as the rights to self-defense, free association, and free speech. They are embarrassed by the passionate words of James Ryder Randall:

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Maryland.
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Maryland.
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland.

Sadly, our Mother State did exactly that, under the compulsion of an occupying army, which arrested all its opponents and set up artillery on Federal Hill, aimed at the heart of Baltimore. After four miserable years, the northern scum went away. But now we’re occupied again.

And once again, we’re letting the Vandal rule.

The Roger Brooke Taney Statue (Monuments part 3)

One of the four monuments hauled away in the dead of night on August 16, 2017 was a seated likeness of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, created by William Henry Rinehart in 1871. In keeping with my theory that we need to pay particular attention to whatever the cultural Marxists are trying to hide or suppress, this is a good time to take another look at old Judge Taney.

The only thing that everybody knows about the man is that he authored a notorious ob iter dictum in the Dred Scott case of 1857. There is no one I know who regards his remarks in that case as wise or historically correct with regard to the status of blacks at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. By misusing judicial power (in an attempt to foreclose the political debate concerning the spread of slavery to the U.S. territories), his decision anticipated the 20th-century judicial activism that is so much praised by the left. As in the case of more recent efforts by the Court to overrule popular deliberation on racial issues, the Dred Scott decision exacerbated passions on both sides.

But Taney served on the court for 28 years, and his other decisions showed a good sense of the tension between individual liberty and the common good. Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1873) insisted on a strict construction of state contracts and refused to support the notion of implied monopolies. The decision was important in encouraging competition in the marketplace. Luther v. Borden (1849) set a sound example of judicial self-restraint. Genesee Chief v. Fitzhugh (1852) very sensibly extended the legal authority of the federal government to the navigable inland waters of America. Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) insisted on the positive responsibility of states to enforce federal fugitive slave laws. Whether those laws were good laws is beside the point if you believe that judges should not legislate from the bench.

The case of greatest interest to Baltimoreans was Ex parte Merryman. Here I shall quote from my own little history of Baltimore County.

John Merryman was a prominent citizen. He served as president of the Maryland State Agricultural Society (1857-1861) and president of the Board of County Commissioners (1857). A member of Sherwood Protestant Episcopal Church, he was at various times a vestryman, registrar, and treasurer. By 1861, he was also first lieutenant in the Baltimore County Horse Guards, and it was in this capacity that he ran afoul of Lincoln’s army of occupation.

On April 19, 1861, Union soldiers passing through on their way to Washington fired upon a mob at the corner of Pratt and Commerce Streets in Baltimore. The similarity of the incident to the Boston Massacre of 1770 was not lost on the citizens of Baltimore, and the fact that the troops involved were from Massachusetts added a bitterly ironic touch. An outraged public called the event the Pratt Street Massacre, and James Ryder Randall, a young school teacher from Baltimore who believed that a friend of his had been killed in the fray, wrote the poem “Maryland, My Maryland.” Sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum,” it became an instant hit in the south and was adopted some 78 years later as Maryland’s state song.

 The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland;

His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland.

Avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore,

And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland.

Spoilsports have been trying to replace it with one or another piece of insipid slop ever since I can remember. The latest such offering is here. The breaking news on this front is that the geniuses in the state senate have just voted to re-designate “Maryland, My Maryland” as the “Historic State Song.” I actually think that’s a fair compromise. The whole business of naming state songs, birds, amphibians, cakes, etcetera has always struck me as ridiculous. Might as well have an official silly walk. Official documents never printed more than three verses, and nobody ever sang the really good part about spurning the northern scum anyway. The monuments are a different matter, so let’s return to the tale of John Merryman.

Naturally, the mayor and businessmen of Baltimore were less enthusiastic about gore and vengeance and more interested in quieting things down before any more damage was done. As Mayor William Brown later recalled, “it was suggested that the most feasible, if not the only practicable, mode of stopping for a time the approach of troops to Baltimore was to obstruct the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore and the Northern Central Railroads by disabling some of the bridges on both roads…” For a southern sympathizer like Mr. Brown, this idea had the added advantage of hampering the Yankee war effort. Governor Thomas H. Hicks appeared to agree with this suggestion when it was made but later denied that he had any part in the decision.

Believing that he was acting under orders from the governor, John Merryman rode out with some of the horse guard to burn the bridges. Recoiling from the destruction of so much valuable property, he burned only one bridge, south of Parkton, leaving the others intact. Then he courteously offered to assist Major Belger of the Union army in any way that he could in turning back to Pennsylvania the troops that were backing up along the blocked rail line, even going so far as to offer to slaughter his own cattle if necessary to feed the northern soldiers.

A righteous man sleeps soundly, and so did John Merryman until 2 a.m. on May 25, when blue-coated soldiers burst into his home and led him away under guard to Fort McHenry. There he was held without trial, on a charge of treason. The commandant, General George Cadwalader, refused to allow Merryman’s lawyer to read or copy any official papers related to the arrest.

The next day, Sunday, May 26, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Roger Brooke Taney issued a writ of habeas corpus. In those days, when the Supreme Court was not in session, the justices rode the circuit (a practice that ended in 1869), and by chance, the Chief Justice was presiding at that moment in the circuit court in Baltimore City. When the military authorities refused to honor the writ, Taney was incensed. In his opinion, he wrote, “…I can only say that if the authority which the constitution has confided to the judiciary department and judicial officers, may thus, upon any pretext or under any circumstances, be usurped by the military power, at its discretion, the people of the United States are no longer living under a government of laws, but every citizen holds life, liberty and property at the will and pleasure of the army officer in whose military district he may happen to be found.” As a practical description of life under military occupation, many another Marylander was to discover that Taney’s words were only too true. Lincoln ignored the ruling and continued the suspension of habeas corpus. The pace of arrests increased, including Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner.

In summary, the man whose sad and weary visage used to greet visitors to the northern part of Mount Vernon Place should be better loved than he has been. In an unforced cuck, Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had another statue of Taney removed from the lawn of the State House in Annapolis one night in August of 2017. The Washington Post reports that Democrat Mike Miller, President of the Maryland Senate, denounced the move and “said the statue should stay put to help educate people about the past. He credited Taney for ‘anti-slavery words and actions,’ saying that ‘unlike George Washington who freed his slaves upon his death, Taney freed his slaves early in his life.’ He also noted Taney’s many roles in public service including state lawmaker and attorney general, secretary of war, U.S. attorney general and U.S. treasury secretary.” When the state’s leading Republican has less sense than the leading Democrat, we’re in trouble.

The Confederate Women’s Monument (Monuments part 2)

Of all the recent statuary banishments, the most shameful was the removal of the Confederate Women’s Monument during the Night of the Long Cranes, August 16, 2017.

The bronze statue on a red marble base stood at the northwest corner of Charles Street and Northern Parkway, across from the northeast corner of the Johns Hopkins campus. The sculpture depicted a kneeling woman cradling a mortally wounded soldier, his flag furled and tilted downward in defeat, while a second woman stood behind her, gazing into the distance.

Funded by the United Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the State of Maryland, it was dedicated in 1917 in honor of “The Brave at Home.” The back side of the granite base reads as follows:

IN DIFFICULTY AND DANGER
REGARDLESS OF SELF
THEY FED THE HUNGRY
CLOTHED THE NEEDY
NURSED THE WOUNDED
AND COMFORTED THE DYING

An “historic preservationist” for the city contended that this and the three other statues removed did not comport with “the kind of values that we as a society want to promote.” Evidently, selflessness, generosity, and kindly solicitude are not that “kind of values.”

There has been much self-congratulation by social justice warriors to the effect that the removal of the statues was a “correction of past injustice.” It has apparently not occurred to them that one injustice does not remedy another, or that the women of Maryland suffered many injustices under Lincoln’s military occupation of the state. Folks in the hill country have a term for the practice of inflicting new injustices to correct old ones. It’s called a feud.

A Hopkins professor named N.D.B. Connolly, who is billed as “an expert in politics, capitalism, and racism” recently gave a summary of the injustices allegedly suffered by Harriet Tubman and added that “current inequalities relating to mass incarceration, eviction, public health—all these things fall disproportionately on black women. Anything we can do to claim space to honor and respect the contributions of black women is really important.” Very well, Professor, why don’t you and your successful black buddies pay for the construction of a statue honoring black women? (Whether Tubman represents the flower of black womanhood is a question best left to an expert like Professor Connolly). Oh, right, you think the rest of us owe you. I am all in favor of honoring black women, but why do you have to take down a statue honoring white women? The answer to this last question is becoming disturbingly evident: there is no more tolerance. For the black radicals and other anti-white identity groups, it’s us versus them. Remember when Americans woke up after 9/11 to find that someone was waging war against us but we didn’t know it? Well, unfortunately it’s time to wake up again.

Empty plinth of the Confederate Women’s Monument, March 9, 2018. (Photo by author)
Johns Hopkins athletic fields are in the background. Welcome to third-world Baltimore. What fools those aging widows and veterans were to donate their mites in the belief that posterity would honor their sacrifice! The city’s act of perfidy toward its past civic benefactors “helps bring the community values to important places and helps weave together the community,” according to City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.
Rather the opposite, I should think. But what do I know?

Report from the (former) Monumental City (Monuments part 1)

The new tribe is growing bolder and is taking down the totems of the old tribe.

Baltimore was riven by Mr. Lincoln’s War and occupied for four years by northern troops; but after the close of that dreadful conflict, the citizens came together again and, as is the custom in civilized countries, erected monuments to the brave men who served on both sides. Most of that reconciliation happened while memories were still fresh, and while survivors still grieved for the fallen.

Now the city is ruled by a majority-black city council and a black mayor (Catherine Pugh), who hastily removed four statues in the dark of night, August 16, 2017. The Police Department allegedly warned the mayor that “activists” had threatened to destroy the monuments if the city did not remove them. So, rather than protect the statues and arrest anyone who messed with them, they capitulated.

I have a personal interest in this matter, having grown up in the neighborhood where two of the monuments used to stand. My 6-greats grandfather John Cockey served on the first commission to lay plans for Baltimore Town in 1720, and his father William was among the first settlers of the region in the 17th century. The suburban eyesore called Cockeysville is named after my family. It’s nothing to brag about today, but it used to be a pretty little country village. My family’s name is most often displayed these days on the vehicles of a waste management company owned by a very distant cousin. People occasionally ask me whether I really am cocky, and I reply that it’s hard to be humble when your name is on so many dumpsters.

Although the University will probably disown me for writing an article for Vdare, I am a complete Hopkins product, B.A. in Human Biology from Johns Hopkins University, M.D. from the medical school, and residency and instructorship in diagnostic radiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was even born at Hopkins Hospital. For thirty years, I practiced medicine in the Baltimore area and lived in a pleasant part of northern Baltimore City. I sent my children to private schools because the city public schools are not good.

Rising crime in my neighborhood was a major factor in my decision to retire and move out of Baltimore forever. We sold our house to a lady from Vermont who repairs stringed instruments. When I asked her why she wanted to move to Baltimore, she said it reminded her of her childhood home of Oakland, California (!) and that she believed ours was a safe neighborhood. I privately wondered whether someone had told her that there was a lot of violence in the city and she thought they had said violins.

By the time we left, black teens were stealing packages off the front porch, white heroin addicts were breaking into the carriage house, and the police were advising residents to lock their second-floor windows and avoid going out alone or at night. Black teenage carjackers shot a man through the neck about eighty yards from my front door. The police occasionally caught the perps, but the courts released them because they were under-aged. The State of Maryland makes it almost impossible for a normal person to obtain a concealed carry permit, but even if you could get one, you would be better off dead than having to deal with the legal repercussions of shooting a black criminal. The police can hardly do it.

On the topic of safe neighborhoods, a friend who is a realtor tells me that he would lose his license if he told a client that a particular neighborhood is “good” or “bad,” “safe” or “unsafe.” The government has spies who try to catch realtors who ask the wrong questions. He is also forbidden to ask a client where he comes from, what his religion is, or even how much he earns. This last prohibition of speech caused quite a bit of trouble and embarrassment for a lady who tried to buy a unit in a cooperative and went through the whole application process, only to be turned down by the coop committee. The agent could have told her not to bother if he had known her income.

This, then, is the background for the city government’s latest brilliant idea: spending over a million dollars to remove statues.

The Lee-Jackson Monument

Empty granite pediment of the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the Baltimore Museum of Art and brick buildings of Johns Hopkins University in the background.

Empty granite pediment of the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with Baltimore Museum of Art and brick buildings of Johns Hopkins University in the background (photo by the author)

Shortly before the Lee-Jackson statue was removed, vandals spray-painted graffiti on the base, and an “artist” set up a papier-mâché statue of a pregnant, jet-black African fertility goddess with pendulous breasts and a baby on her back, raising a fist to the mounted Confederates. After Lee and Jackson were dragged off to a city lot and hidden under a tarp, the African fertility goddess of demographic revenge was set up on the pediment but reportedly succumbed to vandalism in her turn.

Considering the hatred that the left has directed against the Lost Cause ever since I can remember, it is actually surprising that the statue lasted as long as it did. Sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser beat out five men in the competition to create the monument, which was dedicated in 1948. A local banker J. Henry Ferguson (d. 1928) bequeathed $100,000 for its construction. Nancy Pelosi’s father, Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. gave a speech at the dedication ceremony. I always thought the statue had a cold severity about it. These mounted figures were the gods of war, scarcely recognizable as the courtly, kind, gently humorous Lee and the eccentric, professorial, saintly Jackson. The lettering at the top of the granite base reads: “So great is my confidence in General Lee that I am willing to follow him blindfolded” and “Straight as the needle to the pole Jackson advanced to the execution of my purpose.”

The sculpture was based on the famous painting by E.B.D Julio, originally entitled “The Heroes of Chancellorsville” but later known as “The Last Meeting.” Mark Twain, in his puerile, reductive way, wrote in Life on the Mississippi that the pathos of the painting is entirely in the title. He suggested that if it had been called “Jackson asking Lee for a Match” or a number of other trivial names, it would not be so touching. But he missed the point. The statue, in keeping with the original conception of the painter, conveys the heroic stature of both men, without their frailty. Soon after that meeting, Jackson would be dead, and Lee would contract the strep infection that gave him rheumatic fever, weakening him critically at Gettysburg and eventually killing him.

Last week, the city held a ceremony rededicating the site as the “Harriet Tubman Memorial Grove”. A 28-year-old master’s-degree student at Goucher College named Jackson Gilman-Forlini extruded a prime blob of post-modern nonsense, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun: “really the removal of these monuments was not so much about monuments in general as about the kind of values that we as a society want to promote,” namely “of inclusion, of tolerance, of speaking out against prejudice.” He also asserted that “These kind [sic] of gatherings in many ways are much more powerful than new monuments may necessarily be, because these are about community action and about the experience of the individual working in a community to assert positive values.” And this character works for the city as a “historic preservationist.” With preservationists like this, who needs destructionists?

So, let me get this straight. An important monument for which a philanthropist donated today’s equivalent of a million dollars should be taken down so that a small number of social justice warriors with nothing but a handful of gimme and a mouthful of slogans can feel good about their own cheap talk? Notice that this clown has a ready-made excuse for not offering to fund a separate, new monument: a bit of street theater is “more powerful.”

And let’s examine the values of General Lee: gentlemanly conduct, duty, faith, honor. We have come to a sorry pass when official city preservationists are against these values. Notice also what “inclusion” and “tolerance” really mean when uttered by these official vandals. Whatever symbols they don’t like are neither included nor tolerated, and anyone who speaks out against their prejudices will be shouted down.

Several years ago, my wife Elizabeth gave a birthday party for me in Baltimore. A composer friend sat down at the piano and announced that he was going to play a new composition entitled “Heroes.” By way of preamble, and in order to inform his performance by having a specific person in mind, he asked me to name a hero of my own. That was a tough question because there are so many people I admire. So, rather than dither, I immediately replied, “Robert E. Lee.”

There was a gasp from the other side of the room, and I realized it had come from a black lady who is a friend of Elizabeth’s. I immediately jumped to the media-programmed conclusion that my choice had offended her. At the end of the evening, as we were saying our good-byes, she told me, “I can’t believe you said Robert E. Lee!”

I replied, “Oh?”

“Yes,” she exclaimed with great animation. “He’s my hero too!”

I mention this little exchange because identity politics has become so pervasive that the default assumption is that opinions divide along racial lines. We ought to be able to share some of our heroes. The young have been especially brainwashed. There is something fundamentally wrong when junior Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott calls Lee a “terrorist” and a “traitor,” (the Sun article containing this quote has disappeared since this article was written) while endorsing Harriet Tubman, who really did conspire with a genuine terrorist, John Brown. It is disturbing that someone in a position of public trust uses such language, because it suggests that the official who talks that way is not merely stupid or ignorant but is actually part of the postmodern left, who use language not to convey useful meaning but to establish power relationships.

Even the dullest observer will by now have figured out that the government can do anything it wants to terrorists. It can lock them up indefinitely without benefit of trial; it can subject them to certain kinds of torture; and it can assassinate them on the order of the president, even if they are American citizens. So, I think we need to be very suspicious of any public official who calls people terrorists, because he is putting them in a category that is not protected by law. Today his target is a statue of someone long dead. Tomorrow it could be you.

The same wariness should apply when we hear “Nazi” or “fascist.” It’s automatically ok to hate Nazis or maybe even to kill them. Those who throw that name at their opponents are merely trying them to paint a target on their backs. “White supremacist” or “racist” is another such term, although not nearly as potent, partly because we all know, as Ann Coulter has said, that a racist is anyone who is winning an argument with a liberal. Or, as the younger generation has been taught, if you’re white, you’re a racist. It’s like original sin; you can’t get away from it. So, any mentally healthy white person who has taken more than a moment to think about this matter has already said to himself, “Ok, I can live with that.” Nobody really knows exactly what a white supremacist is, except that it’s something we’re not supposed to approve of. If it’s someone who prefers to live in a place where white people rule, then we have to include Abraham Lincoln and (by revealed preference) all the Africans who are migrating into Europe. In any case, we’ve all come to recognize “white supremacist” as just so much verbal mud in the slinger’s arsenal.

By the way, since treason is a capital offense, “traitor” is another targeting word. Traitors are traditionally shot or hanged. The term is thrown around so loosely in politics that it has lost most of its sting, but its use is still fraught with latent menace. Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army when it became clear that Lincoln was bent on invading the southern states. (He made a point of tendering his resignation immediately so that he would not be resigning while under orders.) He vowed never again to raise his sword against any man, save only in the defense of his own state of Virginia. He could not bring himself to wage war against his own family, friends, and neighbors. Anyone who calls such a man a traitor is either revealing his own moral idiocy or simply spitting poison.

Now, let’s get back to heroes. We can always learn something worthwhile by studying other people’s objects of veneration. I’m always willing to try. Clearly, Robert E. Lee has a few points in common with Harriet Tubman. Both were very brave. Both stood up for their people at great personal risk. Both spoke out against slavery. But they embodied different archetypes. My first thought was that Robert E. Lee was the Tragic Hero, and Harriet Tubman was the Heroic Outlaw (like Robin Hood, or in American myth Jesse James). Lee scrupulously obeyed the law; Tubman deliberately broke it. But this analysis is ultimately incomplete and superficial.

The Outlaw is a masculine archetype. (So too is Moses, with whom Tubman has been identified, but only because both of them led their people out of captivity. The comparison falls apart when we consider that Moses was a law-giver, and Tubman was a law-breaker, even if she was by all accounts a better wilderness guide than the biblical hero.) Although she had tough, masculine qualities, Tubman was a woman. Her efforts in the Underground Railroad may be seen as essentially maternal, gathering her brood and leading them to safety. Even her legendary ferocity seems to me to fall in the category of Kipling’s description of the female of the species fighting for her children.

Lee is a complementary type, the Good Father. This paternal aspect of the man is well known to those who have read his letters or learned about his times as commandant of West Point before the War and as president of Washington College afterward. As a disciplinarian, he had a very light touch and a sense of humor. The students were motivated principally by his example. When asked for a list of rules at Washington College, he expressed a distaste for written regulations, saying that he had only one rule: that every student should be a gentleman. Let us revive this concept. We can’t make people behave well by legislation; that approach has been tested to destruction. Being a gentleman has nothing to do with money or fine clothes or even genealogy. It is an inward and spiritual grace that manifests itself in decency of appearance and behavior.

What would Robert E. Lee do? If we men all asked ourselves that question regularly in daily life, we could not fail to be better citizens, better neighbors, better friends, better fathers, better sons. Doubtless, we would all fall short of the ideal, but at least we would not be beset by Bernie Madoffs, Harvey Weinsteins, promiscuous baby-daddies, and teenage carjackers.

Why take down a statue of two men (Lee and Jackson) who embodied the much-needed virtues of self-discipline, honor, and steadfastness? Is it because the moral example of those powerful father figures is too stern a rebuke to the dissolute young black men whose bad behavior causes so much suffering for the women in their lives? Doesn’t virtue transcend race?

If white people can learn something valuable from the tale of a Tubman, why can’t black people profit from the legend of a Lee?

The Confederate Women’s Monument, 22 September 2008. (Photo credit Frederic C. Chalfant, own work, CCA-SA 3.0. The use of this photo does not imply that the photographer endorses me or my use of his work.)