White Wash

Samuel C. Means, a Waterford Mill Owner, leader of the Loudoun Rangers

In the past week, I urged that we remove the Confederate Soldier Statue, bearing a rifle in the direction of approaching visitors to the court in Leesburg, because it is an offending symbol of disunion, lawlessness and slavery.

In 2009, a Deputy Clerk at the Court, Jennifer Grant, reportedly told the Post that she “didn’t like [the statue],” but “there were certain things people didn’t talk about.”

Johnny Chambers, on his way to Court this past Tuesday, told WUSA*9 that, “It’s hard to get justice when you got people that live in this area, that run this country, that believe in this system,” pointing at the Confederate Soldier statue.

Leesburg court personnel told me, “We all read what you wrote. We here talk among ourselves and some of us have resented that statue. … You should know you have support in this building.”

The most virulent opposition to removing the statue claims that the statue’s not about slavery, it’s just history.

Mr. G. of Loudoun County said, “I hear people say that all the time – the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery … get real, of course it was.” (Not all persons prefer to be identified publicly; thus the initials.)

Ms. R said, “I would contend that the Civil War was fought over States Rights to use slavery as their economic engine.”

Mr. S. said these confederate soldiers were “fighting to prop up the plantation owners who both pumped them up on propaganda and forced them through conscription to fight ..”

Mr. W. said, “there was only one difference between the Confederate Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, and it was the ‘right’ to own other human beings.”

In our Constitution, we expressly state “we the people” seek “to form a more perfect union;” the Confederate Constitution doesn’t say that – as it was born of disunion.

Our Constitution says we seek to “provide for the common defense;” the Confederate Constitution said no such thing; in fact, the Confederates were breaching their obligation to “the common defense” by seceding.

Our preamble provides for the “general welfare,” the Confederate Constitution does not.

As for why the South seceded, Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the Confederate States Constitution prohibited any law that denied or impaired “the right of property in negro slaves …”

Article IV, Section 2 of the Confederate States Constitution granted its citizens the right to travel anywhere “with their slaves.”

Article IV, Section 3, Clause 3 authorized slaves in any new confederate territory they acquired, and presumably that included the North if the Confederates could win the war.

So, it was about slavery.

Otherwise, the true history of Loudoun County has been white-washed.

Loudoun Delegate John Janney presided over an extraordinary legislative session in Richmond, convened by the Governor, on April 4, 1861. Janney argued for union, and the delegates voted for Union, by a margin of almost two to one, 89-45.

Rabid secession leaders, however, sought to overturn the result. Intimidated union delegates left Richmond. The second vote, on April 17, supported secession, 88-55.

Some called for a vote of the public. 50,000 rebel troops came into Virginia to “help.” Union voters fled to Maryland. Other Union voters were barred from voting. Some who did vote union were thrown into the Potomac. There were disturbances at the polls at Lovettsville and Lincoln. There were directions to the troops that they could use bayonets at the polling places. West Virginia withdrew from Virginia on June 13, 1861, denouncing secession, and standing with the union. When the remnant that was Virginia counted the ballots, secession “won.”

Union supporters were then arrested or driven out of Virginia. Confederate cavalry took teams of horses and wagons from farmers in the German and Quaker settlements. If they didn’t have either, they were pressed into service as drivers.

Samuel C. Means owned the mill at Waterford. He refused to take up arms against the United States. The Confederates took all of his property, and his horses, wagons, hogs, flour, meal, everything. Means retreated to Maryland but returned leading the Loudoun Rangers drawn from the Quaker and German settlements in Loudoun to fight for the Union.

We have no statue to the Rangers who remained faithful to the Union, only a plaque opposite the Mill in Waterford.

In the last week, we’ve also heard from those mobilized to oppose removal of the statue, many of the same folk who unsuccessfully fought to place confederate flags in Leesburg. Among the hard worded opposition, there is only one e-mail correspondent that may fairly qualify as a threat — and we’re forwarding that one to the authorities.

It is right and just to remove this statue. Speak out if you agree.

5 thoughts on “White Wash

  1. Dave Williams

    You would not be having this debate, and publicly airing these issues, if you did not have a statue to debate about. That is its value: it reminds us of our complicity. I understand the desire to wipe the body social of all the dirt of the past and stand clean and neat and morally pure. But that is as false as the idea that the statue does not commemorate evil.

  2. Pariahdog

    Dave,

    The issue isn’t the presence of the statue, it’s the location, the fact that the soldier is guarding the court house where *all* people expect equal justice.

  3. Epluribusunum

    Exactly. There are appropriate places for symbols that record history, including history of which we need to be ashamed, just as there are appropriate places for religious holiday displays, but the front of our courthouse is not one of them.

  4. Elder Berry

    As I pointed out in the previous thread, we American southerners eventually took down the signs over the water fountains that said white and colored even though they were historic too. Maybe it’s time to rethink the statue as well. Put a photo of it in the Loudoun Museum instead. Or move it to a battlefield and match it with a Union soldier’s statue.

    I agree that the courthouse is not the place for it in our time. It is hard not to think that it had a message when it was put there in the first place, and equality was not the message.

    The rise of so much bullying “secessionist” sentiment in Virginia and the south as a whole these days is sadly not a fluke given that we have a President who is African American.

  5. the bulletproof monk

    What ignorance. Abraham Lincoln ordered the State Militia to answer the Union’s call between those votes. That action alone was enough to affect the change in position.Convienantly, Lincoln was a Republican

Comments are closed.