Did the Mayor and City Council get it wrong?
Tear Down Those Monuments
It appears the proverbial tail is wagging the dog in New Orleans as City Council members voted 6 to 1 to tear down four monuments by declaring them “public nuisances.” Among the four slated for removal is 131-year-old General Robert E. Lee, erected in 1884. Sadly, the call for a referendum allowing New Orleans citizens to vote on the issue was ignored as a handful of angry protesters, led by the Mayor, clamored at the council members for the monuments to be torn down.
The four monuments (Lee, Davis, Beaureguard and Liberty) are caught in the crosshairs of a racially divisive agenda, touting a cleansing of all Confederate symbols and monuments from public display. The council chambers resembled a kangaroo tribunal as the monuments were tried and convicted of being “offensive” and a “public nuisance.” They were sentenced to indefinite exile from public display.
The idea that a nationally recognized historic monument such as General Robert E. Lee or President Jefferson Davis will be torn down by 6 votes represents a disdain for the citizenry of New Orleans. These monuments are nationally recognized and belong to all Louisianans and Americans, not just Orleanians. The Mayor and 6 politicians erred in not allowing the citizens a vote. Subsequently, a 51-page Lawsuit was filed seeking a Temporary Restraining Order, a Preliminary Injunction, and a Permanent Injunction to halt the flawed process.
The National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior has listed Lee and Davis on the National Registry of Historic Places as historic monuments “worthy of preservation.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
Defining The Issue
Are these monuments “public nuisances?”
Well, it all depends upon one’s perspective of the Civil War. To the South they represent history and the South’s 11-state secession from the Union. They commemorate the battle over States’ Rights, sovereignty, and autonomy to govern itself as a separate nation and legislate its laws apart from Federal interference. They symbolize the belief that each State in the Union did not forfeit its sovereignty by joining the Union and maintained the right to legally secede by legislative action and return to its former national independence. They represent a rejection of the North’s unwillingness to abide by the Constitution of The United States which was at the heart of the South’s secession.
The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union.
After years of Constitutional violations by the Northern Section, in 1860 South Carolina officially executed its declaration of secession making it the first State to secede. Several other Southern States including Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia also enumerated and declared their Constitutional causes against the Federal Government and the North. They cited several violations of the Constitution including the blatant disregard for the rule of Constitutional Law, States’ Rights, unfair taxes and unfair access to the Western Territories.
The North favored its own business interest at the expense of crippling the South. They enacted unfair tariffs (protectionism) instead of fair trade practices. It was a win-win for Northern special interest and an unlevel playing field that embittered the South.
Although they opposed permanent tariffs, political expedience in spite of sound economics prompted the Founding Fathers to pass the first U.S. tariff act. For 72 years, Northern special interest groups used these protective tariffs to exploit the South for their own benefit. Finally in 1861, the oppression of those import duties started the Civil War.
Also, the abolitionist organizations like the American Anti-Slavery Society were freely allowed to exist in the North with little impunity and given a free hand to violate Constitutional Law as it applied to the Southern States. They often engaged in armed conflicts and attacked southern slave owners, though slavery was legal, but was increasingly viewed as an immoral or sinful practice. The Southern States were outraged because Federal Government did little to correct the Northern States lawless disregard for the rule of Constitutional Law.
The irony of all ironies is that the Northern States first introduced slavery in the Colonies shortly after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts around 1624. Slave labor was utilized in building the Northern Nation including the White House which was constructed in part by slave labor. Historically, little is mentioned about the 175 years of Northern Slavery and less is recorded about the mid-1800’s when Washington D. C. “was home to the largest slave market in North America.” Slave traders continued to sell slaves to the South until 1862. The Robey and William’s slave pens were just down the street from the Nation’s Capital. This is the same place Solomon Northup of 12 Yeares A Slave was held and sold South. Several other slave markets were operated at the same time:
Foreign traveler’s accounts from the 1830s and 1840s often describe the Robey and Williams slave pens as being along the Mall [Nations Mall].
Other dealers held slaves and conducted auctions in Georgetown and at scattered places including City Hall and Decatur House, across Lafayette Park from the White House.
If Lincoln and the North were as passionate about freeing slaves as many Americans mistakenly believe, the Union Army need only to travel about a half-mile from the Capital to their own evil slave market that was selling slaves to the South as late as 1862. Unfortunately, Lincoln refused to free around 3,000 slaves in D.C..
During the Civil War, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts stood face-to-face with President Lincoln and confronted him about the Northern slaves and the slave trade:
Face to face with the President, Sumner demanded, “Do you know who at this moment is the largest slaveholder in the country? It is Abraham Lincoln, for he holds all of the 3,000 slaves of the District, which is more than any other person in the country holds.”
Most historians have carefully whitewashed the North’s explicit complicity in the institution of slavery. Their narratives almost always demonize the South while portraying the North as the righteous deliverers. This is not the real history and it is not the truth. The North was built on the backs of slaves for 175 years, right into the Civil War. Northern business interest yielded great wealth from the slave trade. When the demand for agricultural workers grew in the South, the North sold slaves South to meet the demands.
The legal and social dilemma facing the Nation was that slavery was Constitutionally legal, but increasing viewed as morally wrong. It conflicted with our core Christian beliefs that Thomas Jefferson articulated in our 1776 Declaration Of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
How can a nation declare that it is “self-evident, that all men are created equal” while enslaving black men that they declared less than equal? The belief was intellectually dishonest and a contradiction to the American practice of slavery.
The problem with man’s law is that it’s conceived and incubated in the finite minds of imperfect people. Laws are not necessarily moral or just but provide a set of rules and order for governing society. As in the case of legal slavery, laws can be evil and unjust to those ruled by them. People create laws to order and control others. Laws are rules that must be followed or transgressors will face the consequences. Laws are not necessarily good, right, decent, moral or make good sense. They are simply the law. As the moral conscience of a Nation rises, better laws are enacted to replace the old laws that were implemented during a low moral period.
Two Christian revivals, The Great Awakening, and The Second Great Awakening began and continued to move throughout the Northern Colonies from the mid-1700’s through the late 1800’s. Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, among others, greatly raised the spiritual and moral conscience of our Nation. In time, the light of truth exposed and prevailed over the ungodly practice known as the African Slave Trade. You can read Edwards 24-page discourse The Injustice and Impolicy of The Slave Trade here.
With the North being well established and the influx of thousands of immigrants, the need for slavery diminished in the North while the anti-slavery movement was bolstered by Christian sentiment. As slavery grew unpopular in the North, slaves were sold to the South which was largely an agricultural economy in need of workers. At its peak the Southern planters exported 75% of the world’s cotton:
New England also was the center of the slave trade in the colonies, supplying captive Africans to the South and the Caribbean island.
In the 1760s, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were exporting some of their bondspeople to the Southern colonies. This trend is verified for example by evidence in the South Carolina Gazette, where advertisements referred to numerous men and women who had been brought from these Northern colonies. In the 1770s, slave traders, also called speculators, regularly advertised in the Boston Gazette for “healthy slaves, . . . Male or Female who have been some years in the Country, of twenty Years of Age or under.” As slavery declined in the mid-Atlantic and northern states, owners began to sell their slaves to traders who moved them further south.
While the issue of slavery was inextricably involved in the South’s secession, the war was not about ending slavery or freeing the slaves. President Lincoln pledged that he would not “interfere with the institution of slavery.”
I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
Lincoln makes it abundantly clear that the purpose of the war was not to abolish slavery but restore the union. To believe otherwise is to ignore history:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.
— President Lincoln, New York Times
By his own admission, Lincoln’s war on the South was never a campaign to free slaves or end slavery, but to restore our nation. While slavery posed an irreconcilable difference among all people of conscience and Christian virtue, both North and South, it is incorrect to romanticize the war as a mission to rescue the slaves or put an end to slavery. Only the uninformed and the easily fooled will buy into that tale. Lincoln emphatically pledged not to interfere with slavery. “I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so” was an integral part of Lincoln’s inaugural pledge to the nation.
We must not overlook the North’s desire to hijack the Western Territories and launch the Great American Land Grab of the 1800’s. Having seized control of congress, the North wanted to exclude the South from claiming their share of the Western Territories by prohibiting slavery in the Territories while at the same time Washington D.C. was home to the largest slave market in the North, about a half-mile from the Nation’s Capital.
Many of the Southern States argued against this unconstitutional Northern land grab:
We had shed our blood and paid our money for its acquisition; we demanded a division of it on the line of the Missouri restriction or an equal participation in the whole of it. These propositions were refused, the agitation became general, and the public danger was great. The case of the South was impregnable. The price of the acquisition was the blood and treasure of both sections—of all, and, therefore, it belonged to all upon the principles of equity and justice.
The Western Territories would be developed and politically controlled by the Northern Section of the Federal government and the South effectively deprived of claiming its share and rightfully benefiting from its development and commerce.
The Northern Section had successfully monopolized most of the mercantile, textile, and shipping business to the Northwestern Territories while marketing slaves to the South. It was a bonanza for the North and poverty in the South. Now the most lucrative enterprise lay before the Nation—claiming the Western Territories and creating new States (see map above). Their goal of monopolizing these new Territories and enriching Northern business interest was fostered by demonizing the South. Eventual the Northern greed, hypocrisy, unfair taxes and Constitutional violations caused the secession of the South, sparked the Civil War and ultimately impoverished the South.
The real agenda, concealed by the argument of slavery, was the North’s mission to control and direct the Nation’s power, wealth and government under Northeastern dominance where it remains today. The impetus toward war began when the 11 Southern States vowed to secede from the Union and form The Confederate States of America. The prevailing mindset among many States was that each State was like an independent nation, completely and absolutely sovereign. States believed they could vote to join or withdraw from the union. They viewed States’ Rights and laws as taking precedence over Federal laws unless specifically stated or prohibited in the Constitution. The Tenth amendment clarifying these Rights’ was ratified on December 15, 1791, seventy years prior to the Civil War:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
— Tenth Amendment
Lincoln and the North believed the U.S. Constitution did not provide for States to secede from the Union and therefore war followed. Lincoln had one thing in mind, to preserve the Union. Seceding was not an option afforded in the Constitution. However, 11 Southern States seceded and 4 remained loyal to the Union. The 4 States that did not secede were: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Slavery continued in these states during the war.
|1||South Carolina||December 20, 1860||July 9, 1868|
|2||Mississippi||January 9, 1861||February 23, 1870|
|3||Florida||January 10, 1861||June 25, 1868|
|4||Alabama||January 11, 1861||July 13, 1868|
|5||Georgia||January 19, 1861||July 15, 1870|
|6||Louisiana||January 26, 1861||July 9, 1868|
|7||Texas||March 2, 1861||March 30, 1870|
|8||Virginia||April 17, 1861||January 26, 1870|
|9||Arkansas||May 6, 1861||June 22, 1868|
|10||North Carolina||May 20, 1861||July 4, 1868|
|11||Tennessee||June 8, 1861||July 24, 1866|
The very core concepts of our country and its inception or deeply rooted in the institution of slavery. Article IV. Section 2. of our Constitution provided for the return of escaped slaves. The entire country was conflicted; the law of the land was increasingly being viewed as wrong.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
— U.S. Constitution
Interestingly, Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, only freed slaves in the 11 States that seceded from the Union and not the 4 slave states that remained loyal to the North. Therefore, Lincoln continued to support the institution of slavery as he had promised in his inaugural address. Lincoln’s Emancipation was a wartime strategy aimed at inciting a slave rebellion in the South that would help the North win the war. He had no authority or ability to free slaves belonging to the South or the North.
It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.
The institution of slavery can be traced as early as 1910 BC or 3900 years ago. In the 37th chapter of Genesis, we see evidence of slavery, brother against brother, which led to the subjugation of an entire race. The Jews suffered 400 years of Egyptian slavery before the Exodus.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our to brother, our own flesh and blood. His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
— Genesis 37:26-28
The despicable practice of slavery is not limited to the United States. In fact, we played only a small role by comparison. According to Dr. Henry Gates:
Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.
Slavery existed in the U.S. until the Thirteenth Amendment passed Congress on January 31, 1865 and was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. On February 17, 1865 Louisiana ratified the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. The institution of slavery was a despicable and evil practice. It cannot be justified by any means whatsoever. It was wrong and now it is over.
If we are of a mind to begin tearing down historic monuments based on flawed and convoluted historical perspectives, the inevitable road ahead must lead to the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore and every monument of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin (slave owners and supporters of slavery) and a thousand other monuments of great leaders and many of our country’s founding fathers tainted by the institution of slavery. If we are to remove these monuments what shall we do with John Newton’s 280 hymns, among which we find possibly the most cherished and greatest ever written by Newton, Amazing Grace? How, I ask, can any person (black or white) worship the Creator by singing the songs penned by this vile, despicable wretch of a man who was a loathsome slave trader? Yet, since the late 1700’s billions of people from nearly every race, creed and color have sung with tears streaming down their faces:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.
History is replete with the immoral and ungodly practice of slavery. Our ancestors once believed in and practiced slavery, but that was a long time ago. Laws, attitudes, and society have changed. Nevertheless, race-baiting continues to be the stock-in-trade of racially divisive people. Their unholy agenda to resurrect racial tension and sow the seeds of racial discord is a self-serving exploitive ruse being once again perpetrated upon our city. Our history is what it is, but it should not be used as a modern-day divisive wedge to anger and stir up racial tension. We should not mismanage our priorities or destroy historical monuments. The tail should not wag the dog.
How many complaints has the city of New Orleans received in the past 130 years calling these historic monuments offensive and a “public nuisance?” How many people in the past 5 years have written the City or contacted their councilperson to report these “public nuisances?” Where is the community outrage calling for the tearing down of these historic monuments? It was nonexistence.
The controversy is apparently linked to a small group of angry activist distorting history and insisting that people should be highly offended by these monuments.
According to NOLA.com, councilwoman Cantrell was not hearing complaints from a disgruntled or offended citizenry, but a contrived crisis “from the top down,” which she believed to be the wrong approach and led to her opposing the monuments removal. Unfortunately, Cantrell was dissuaded from her position:
It was not a community driven process based on the concerns of citizens,” she said, explaining why she opposes an ordinance to have four controversial monuments declared public nuisances and removed from their public perches. “This idea was thrust upon the City and the Council from the top down after it was created by a small, select group of individuals.
Some have suggested that the entire monument controversy is the political chicanery of an inept Mayor that has failed to address the real problems plaguing New Orleans. The streets are nearly impassable, law enforcement critically understaffed, rampant murder flourishing and crime out of control. The alleged “public nuisance” is little more than a failed leadership serving up a “red herring” to mask the stench of a largely ineffective administration. The distraction is stinking up the city.
When questioned by councilwoman Stacy Head about his future plans for other monuments in the city, the Mayor responded:
I didn’t create this division nor did I create this tension. You may be knowledgeable of the fact that actually slavery did it and the Civil War created the tension.
On the contrary, Mr. Landreiu, you did create the “division” and “tension” in our city by not recognizing the correct historical perspective of these monuments. You seized the moment to panda the racial psyche of uninformed and gullible minds, tear open the scar tissue of the past and successfully drove a divisive racial wedge into the minds of many Orleanians. Then you audaciously stated, “I didn’t create this division nor did I create this tension.”
The Civil War ended in April 1865 and Slavery remained legal until the 13th Amendment was ratified by congress on December 6, 1865, about 150 years ago. The Civil War resulted from the 11 States secession from the Union to form The Confederate States of America. Their declaration of causes cited the North’s numerous violations of Constitutional Law. The South called for the North to follow our Constitution, but they refused to follow the Constitution. Subsequently, the South secede. Lincoln and the North felt that the South could not legally secede from the Union and the war began.
The idea of a 131-year-old statue of a dead Civil War General troubling the minds of some folks (white and black) is beyond reason.
These historic monuments belong to the citizens of New Orleans, the people of Louisiana and our Nation. They must be preserved. We must not allow 6 people and a misguided Mayor to distort and destroy 131 years of history. It would be a monumental mistake.