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The Same Old New South: Pride or Prejudice?

Le bon Vieux Nouveau Sud : orgueil ou préjugé ?
El dichoso Viejo Nuevo Sur: ¿orgullo o prejuicio?
John Ford

Résumés

Cet article examine la double fierté déconcertante qui peut se manifester dans l'histoire du Vieux Sud, d'une part, et dans la célébration du patrimoine et de la fierté afro-américaine d’un New South intégré, d’autre part. Il examine la façon dont chaque facette est célébrée à Atlanta, en se concentrant sur la façon dont le Vieux Sud a été évoqué de la fin de la guerre de Sécession jusqu'au mouvement des droits civiques – le « Vieux New South » – et la reconstruction mémorielle à l’œuvre depuis le mouvement des droits civiques – le « Nouveau New South ». Alors qu’aujourd'hui, il y a une vibrante fierté pour la culture afro-américaine locale, il reste aussi un haut degré de fierté pour le Vieux Sud, sans que l’antagonisme entre les deux mouvements soit évident. Cet article cherche à expliquer un tel paradoxe. Il se propose aussi d’analyser la manière dont le patrimoine du Vieux Sud a été intentionnellement modifié pour le rendre plus acceptable lorsque les évolutions sociales l’ont rendu de plus en plus discutable.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1Atlanta means different things to different people, but something outsiders often find difficult to understand is the apparent pride the city and its inhabitants have for both its Old South heritage and antebellum past on the one hand and its African-American heritage and its relative progressiveness on the other, particularly for a Southern city before, during and after the Civil Rights Movement. This seemingly paradoxical juxtaposition of apparently conflicting ideals – one of which extols the legacy of a society based on slave labor while the other celebrates and supports the enfranchisement, integration, and full equality of the formerly enslaved peoples – strikes many non-natives as paradoxical if not outright disingenuous and insincere. This paper seeks to provide an example of how the city and its people can often find a place for both of these ostensibly incompatible traditions, embracing both while being disloyal to neither. It examines one specific manifestation of memorializing the Old South, the metro Atlanta area’s Stone Mountain Park, showing how it continuously re-remembers the legacy it was created to extol in ways that perpetually permit it to be embraced without coming into conflict with the progressive values of an integrated American society.

  • 1 A contrasting example is provided by Selma, Alabama with twenty-first-century efforts to commemorat (...)

2The changing focus of Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park exemplifies some of the ways in which Southern heritage is remembered, adapted, and re-remembered. Few who follow Memorial Drive from downtown Atlanta to the park today reflect that the road linking the gold-domed state capitol to the massive granite mountain was a Reconstruction-era project intended to pay homage to the Confederacy, much in the vein of Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Nor is the enormous equestrian carving of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis on the mountain’s face – once the park’s main attraction and still the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world – now the primary draw for most visitors. Indeed, changing times have meant that this monument, which once held pride of place, is now sometimes considered something of an embarrassment; while it is frequently downplayed when promoting the park today, however, it is never entirely disdained. The way in which this situation came about and the manner in which the monument is maintained with cautious respect are highly indicative of how many Southerners maintain pride in a Confederate past while eschewing the values that regime fought to preserve. This paper explains both the initial impetus for the project, and the modern spin which permits its continued acceptance despite the fact that it would now be unthinkable to fashion such a Rushmore-style homage to Confederate leaders1.

Origins of the Monument

  • 2 Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Co (...)
  • 3 Roberts and Company Associates Architects-Engineers, Stone Mountain Memorial Report and Plans Prepa (...)
  • 4 William Archibald Dunning. Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865–1877, New York, Harper, 1905.
  • 5 Adam Fairclough, « Was the Grant of Black Suffrage a Political Error? Reconsidering the Views of Jo (...)
  • 6 Irvin D. S. Winsboro, « The Confederate Monument Movement as a Policy Dilemma for Resource Managers (...)

3As was common at the time, « elite southern women, not men, led the way in constructing the Lost Cause image » exemplified by the sculpture2. In 1914 the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) formed the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association with « the idea of carving a memorial to leaders of the Confederacy on the face of Stone Mountain3 ». The project was initially supported not only by Georgia and the South, but by the nation as a whole. This was not terribly surprising during the first three decades of the twentieth century when the so-called Dunning school of historiography, regarding Congressional Reconstruction as a misguided political blunder, was widely accepted throughout the nation4. Dunning and his supporters claimed that punitive manipulation of the freedmen’s votes by Radical Republicans in the twelve years following the Civil War had led to corrupt, extravagant, unrepresentative, and oppressive governments in the southern states5. They therefore espoused sympathy for the post-Reconstruction Redeemers and their wealthy and business-minded Northern allies who viewed the return of the scions of the antebellum elite as a restoration of normality, conducive to American prosperity. Winsboro notes that this “historical misrepresentation” is one of the direct roots leading to « the monument movement of the early 20th century to the present6 ».

  • 7 John Temple Graves, Atlanta Georgian, 1914. Accessible via Matthew G. Muller et. al., op. cit., acc (...)

4John Temple Graves, editor of the New York American, wrote in 1914 that the “sheer declivity that rises or falls from 900 to 1000 feet” on the steep side of the mountain was « Nature's matchless plan for a memorial » to « the veterans of the dead Confederacy, to the daughters and sons, to all who revere the memories of that historic and immortal struggle7 ». In 1916 the proprietor of the mountain, Samuel Venable, a participant in re-founding of the KKK which took place on the mountain’s summit in 1915, deeded the face of the mountain and 12 adjacent acres to the UDC for a period of 12 years, in which time the carving was to be completed. Famed sculptor Gutzon Borglum – a nativist and KKK sympathizer if not an actual member, who would later effectuate the carving of Mount Rushmore – was engaged to direct the project, but work was delayed until 1923 due to World War I.

  • 8 Notably Presidents Harding (OH) and Coolidge (VT). See: Matthew G. Muller et al., « Federal Governm (...)
  • 9 Most notably by Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, a proponent of Civil Rights, and Reed Smoot, both tradi (...)
  • 10 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « 1925 Confederate Half Dollar », op. cit., accessed 1 March 2014. URL: (...)
  • 11 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Samuel Hoyt Venable”, op. cit., accessed 3 March 2014. URL: http://xroa (...)

5After the Great War, the project was still seen as a worthy patriotic endeavor not only by the South but by the nation. There was presidential8 and congressional9 support for a Confederate memorial carving, and « Confederate Half Dollars » were federally produced to fund it10, despite the fact that the mountain continued to be a frequent site of sanctioned Klan rallies11. After absconding under suspicious circumstances, Borglum was replaced shortly before the 1928 deadline for completion, after which the project rested dormant for just over a decade. In 1941 the Georgia State Legislature established the State Park Authority, which worked alongside a special commission appointed by then Governor Talmadge in order to acquire the mountain and complete the memorial. The commission planned to hire a workforce through the WPA (Work Progress Administration), one of President Roosevelt’s « New Deal » projects, but the intervention of World War II, then the Korean War, again put the project on hold until 1958.

  • 12 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “State Involvement, 1950s”, op. cit., accessed 4 March 2014. URL: http:/ (...)
  • 13 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Lukeman Era”, op. cit., accessed 3 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virgi (...)

6In that year, in his State of the State address, segregationist Governor Marvin Griffin announced: « I am convinced that the purchase of Stone Mountain and adjacent properties by the state, and completion of the Confederate Memorial by a competent authority will be of everlasting benefit to the present generation and all future citizens of this state, and the entire southland12 ». The property was finally purchased by the state in September of that year for $1.125 million and responsibility for overseeing completion of the memorial was handed over to the Park Authority13. But despite the position of this notorious segregationist governor, general attitudes were changing, and the Dunning philosophy no longer held sway. Now under state control, the « Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association », which had been founded by the UDC in 1917 in order to find a way to pay the Dunningite Borglum, was reorganized by the legislature as « Stone Mountain Memorial Association ». Dropping « Confederate » from the name was an indication that the preservation of Confederate memory per se was no longer the sole focus of interest.

From Confederate-Centered to Southern-Themed

  • 14 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « State Involvement, 1950s », op. cit.
  • 15 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « The Hancock Era, 1960s », op. cit., accessed 5 March 2014. URL: http:/ (...)
  • 16 Ibid.

7Although the legislature expected to pay for the carving’s completion through a tax on gasoline, the Association was likewise expected to diversify the park in such a way as to generate revenue and provide more diverse recreational facilities that would attract not only local but also out-of-state visitors14. A master plan developed in 1959, including projects such as « an open-air amphitheater, a sky-lift from the base of the mountain to the top, golf courses, a Battlerama, an antique automobile museum, a large man-made lake with a Mississippi riverboat, a railroad around the base of the mountain featuring an Indian raid, nature trails, a petting zoo, a motor hotel, campsites, [and] a reconstructed plantation15 », all of which were completed in about ten years in the hopes of drawing visitors who would not necessarily be attracted exclusively by a Confederate Monument. The Master Plan further advised the Association that « [t]he desire to pay homage to the Confederate leaders is still important, but it is now probably secondary to the economic motive16 ».

  • 17 Ibid.
  • 18 « Shame and Disgrace », Atlanta Constitution, 9 May 1970. Via Matthew G. Muller, et al., op. cit., (...)
  • 19 The federal government did, however, issue commemorative stamps in 1970 to mark the occasion, but t (...)

8Although diluted, the focus on the Monument was not entirely lost; « in 1960, a Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee was formed to host an international competition to choose a sculptor for the Memorial17 », and in 1963 engaged Walter Hancock of Massachusetts as chief sculptor and consultant. Work resumed that year, and with only slight changes to previous plans, the carving was essentially complete in 1970. In May of that year President Nixon was slated to perform the official dedication and unveiling; he bowed out at the last minute, however, sending controversial Vice President Spiro Agnew in his place, much to the chagrin of many. The Atlanta Constitution declared: « It is a shame and a disgrace that Vice President Spiro T. Agnew will make the chief address dedicating Stone Mountain Memorial Park’s monumental carving18 ». Although officially citing affairs of state, the president's refusal to attend was probably indicative of the changing attitude of the federal government towards the monument to the Confederacy19. While such endeavors had generally been indulged if not positively supported in pre-Civil Rights days, it seems that from 1970 onwards they were no longer to be officially sanctioned, perhaps due to a growing link in the public mind between segregation and Confederate memory, issues that had not necessarily been intrinsically linked in the popular imagination before the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.

  • 20 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Increasing Diversity, 1980s-90s”, op. cit., accessed 5 March 2014. URL: (...)

9While the addition of the above mentioned attractions in the sixties had already made the park « Confederacy centered, not carving centered20 », things changed again in the eighties and nineties. Some of the older attractions were eliminated while a new world-class conference center, Evergreen, was opened in 1990. In much the style of amusement parks like Disney World, the park was divided into four districts: Historic, Natural, Recreation and Events, each with its own separate focus. Although unrelated to the Memorial directly, these districts were construed as « Southern-themed » in a general way, relating to hospitality, traditional food, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, camping or picnics, giving the park overall coherence. It therefore became Southern centered rather than Confederacy centered, intentionally diminishing certain aspects of the Southern past which might once have been seen as acceptable but which were increasingly seen as controversial or offensive. As Muller points out:

  • 21 Ibid.

« While the specific elements of the Park have changed, the overarching theme of Southernness has remained intact. In the 1910s and 1920s, membership in the Klan or in the United Daughters of the Confederacy was quintessentially Southern... As the War Between the States fades further from our national memory, being Southern comes to mean different things21 ».

Veritable Performance: the Laser Light Show

10Since 1983, one park attraction which is undeniably performance oriented is the laser light show. It is interesting to see how it pays homage to the Confederacy and its heroes, while at the same time trying to appeal to a general audience and appear as American as it does Southern. After nightfall in the summer, a 45-minute “laser spectacular” takes place, in which lasers provide geometric designs that dance and pulse on the face of the mountain and create a light canopy over the viewers. Modern hits by the Black Eyed Peas, Indigo Girls, B-52s and REM are intermixed with Southern tunes such as « Georgia on My Mind » (Ray Charles and Willie Nelson), « Sweet Home Alabama » (Lynyrd Skynyrd), « Sweet Southern Comfort » (Buddy Jewell), and « Devil Went Down to Georgia » (Charlie Daniels Band)22. This last tune is traditionally accompanied by a cartoon-style laser animation that illustrates the narrative of the lyrics.

11Another traditional feature of the performance is Elvis's « American Trilogy », a single piece of music in which « Dixie » segues into « All My Trails » before finishing off with « The Battle Hymn of the Republic ». This composition is also usually accompanied by laser animation in which the carving triumvirate and their horses are outlined in various colors to the strains of « Dixie »; then as the Battle Hymn's « Glory, Glory » begins, the figures gallop off to battle. After a battle scene, an image of Lee re-appears and rides past scenes of destruction and tombstones. Then the general draws his sword, breaks it across his knee, and as the two halves fall, they transform into separate maps of the Southern states and the Northern states, which then reunite. While the presumed valor of these three individuals is implied, the cause for which they fought is not itself glorified. The soldiers and graves are depicted as simply Americans rather than Northerners or Southerners. The controversial Confederate battle flag is never shown, nor any other image that might be contentious. And ultimately, Lee is presented as a reconciler rather than a secessionist.

  • 23 « Stone Mountain Park Debuts New Lasershow Spectacular™ in Mountainvision This Summer », PR Newswir (...)
  • 24 « Petition wants Stone Mt. Confederate carving removed », 11 Alive News, Atlanta, 30 April 2013, ac (...)

12Since 2011, « [a] […] digital, multi-dimensional projection called Mountainvision » has been used to enhance the show, providing a much more realistic 3-D effect23. In one scene, a furry little creature seems to chisel into the carving, after which it appears that blocks of stone displace themselves in tune to the music before the whole apparently explodes off the face of the mountain. This might allude to calls for the carving to be removed24, however in this instance the heads of the Confederate leaders are never effaced, and the whole is reassembled before the music again becomes patriotic, with a laser-produced American flag, a Mountainvision-produced flag, an outline of the United States, then the letters « USA » with a ribbon below, all to the tune of the « Star Spangled Banner ». The production then concludes the patriotic finale with fireworks that illuminate the mountain and highlight the carving.

Rethinking the Symbols and Shifting the Emphasis

  • 25 In a letter to his son dated Jan. 23, 1961, Lee wrote: « I can anticipate no greater calamity for t (...)
  • 26 See Robert E. Lee, « Letter to his wife on slavery (selections; December 27, 1856) », accessed 7 Ma (...)
  • 27 Douglas R. Freeman, R. E. Lee, A Biography, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, p. 476. It is (...)
  • 28 Gamaliel Bradford, Lee the American, [1912, revised 1927], Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, 2004, p (...)
  • 29 « Petition wants Stone Mt. Confederate carving removed », op. cit.
  • 30 Chris Springer, « The Troubled Resurgence of the Confederate Flag », History Today, 1993, p. 7.
  • 31 Matthew G. Muller et al., op. cit., accessed 27 Feb 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/sto (...)

13In all of this there is a celebration of Southern culture and nods to the Confederate leaders on the Memorial, particularly to Lee, who has the peculiar status of being simultaneously the most iconic of the Southern heroes and the one who is perhaps the least distasteful to opponents of such nostalgia. Defenders and apologists for the general often put forth evidence that he was personally opposed to secession and considered it illegal25, considered slavery a « moral and political evil26 », had freed slaves in 1862 well before even Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation27, and who after the war chided Southerners to « abandon all these local animosities, and make your sons Americans28 ». However, the overall purpose of the presentation seems to be that this Southern heritage is simply an integral part of a larger American story, and this dual patriotism is fairly common in the South. As Atlanta’s African-American mayor Kareem Reed put it: « the Confederacy was a part of American history. So I don't think you could ever have a scenario where you blot it [out]29 ». In other words, at least as far as its memory is represented here, Southern pride – even Confederate pride – is not to be seen as antagonistic or incompatible with either American patriotism or African-American heritage; indeed this had generally been the case before opponents to the Civil Rights Movement co-opted symbols of the Old South for themselves in the sixties, notably the Confederate battle flag, which they raised and waved in protest to integration, bringing that previously rather innocuous symbol into disrepute30. It and other similarly tarnished symbolic images which would now be deemed offensive are expunged; Lee is presented as an American reconciler rather than the iconic hero of the South's « Lost Cause ». So while « Stone Mountain Park began as a celebration of the Confederate cause, memorializing forever the famous leaders of the Southland », Muller notes, « [o]ver time, however, the park has changed from memorial to vacation spot [...] changing attitudes about the South […] have diluted the park's Confederate focus and molded it into a marketable commodity, akin to a Southern Disneyland31 ».

  • 32 See for example: Owen J. Dwyer, « Location, Politics, and the Production of Civil Rights Memorial L (...)
  • 33 Martin L. King, III, personal communication, 17 December 2013.

14It has been observed that more recent memorials to the Civil Right Movement and its leaders often « contrast unfavorably » with those associated with the Confederacy, and the Stone Mountain monument in particular is sometimes singled out in contrast to the more understated Martin Luther King, Jr. monument some 17 miles away32. Despite this, Martin Luther King III, son of the slain Civil Rights leader, confided that there is still a place in the South for Confederate battle flags and other such memorabilia, and he recognizes that such emblems are not universally equated with racism by all who display them, including some blacks33. He feels, however, that despite ignorant flaggers’ intentions, the connotations these symbols have acquired nevertheless make them offensive to many. As such, he believes that today their rightful place is in a museum. To his mind, however, there is no incongruity in equating Southern heritage with American heritage or African-American heritage, citing his parents as examples, both of whom, he said, had always been proud of being from the South.

  • 34 « Gone with the Wind », dir David O. Selznick, USA, 1939.

15On the other hand, it seems that early pride in the antebellum and Confederate past was not initially equated with tacit approval of racism or segregation, perhaps for the simple reason that institutionalized racism and segregation were so fully ingrained in the South that they seemed to be integral parts of day-to-day reality, regardless of whether or not the antebellum and/or Confederate past was celebrated or even acknowledged. This appeared to be an inevitable reality in most of the South, and even parts of the North. Indeed, prior to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the federal government in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, had been complicit in allowing and propagating Jim Crow legislation in states where it existed. The federal government had also traditionally been supportive of monuments to the Confederacy, frequently viewing them not as symbols of rebellion against the United States, but reminders of a quixotically American « land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South34 ». As David O. Selznick’s famous 1939 film put it:

  • 35 Ibid.

Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind35.

  • 36 A comparison can be made with far right groups usurping national emblems to such an extent that the (...)

16This was a popular image romanticized not only by Southerners, but by Americans in general. Only with the Dixiecrat backlash to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, in which that party deliberately co-opted popular emblems of the Old South such as the Confederate battle flag, did many of the symbols definitively acquire an overt association with the racist policies and propagation of segregation and white supremacy that had until then been an unchallenged facet of the “old New South” society36. Only at that point, it seems, did the federal government and more sensitive members of the wider community – north, south, white and black – begin eschewing them.

17Many, however, did not, and perhaps some actually feared to do so. Prominent integrationist politicians and civic leaders in the South, for example, were careful not to attack or downplay the memory of the Old South, the Confederacy, their symbols or monuments. It would have been political suicide to malign such traditional and widely cherished emblems of the Old South, which generations had been taught to revere. Indeed, it seems that in order not to alienate whites who had been brought up with a general sense of pride in their Southern heritage, it was important for those who were trying to desegregate not to be seen denigrating symbols associated with the Confederacy, even if they were now being brandished by segregationists. Instead, it seems that their modus operandi was to promote the idea that the memory of the Old South could and should co-exist harmoniously with the development of an integrated ‘new’ New South, and that the latter did not diminish the respectability of the former any more than the former did to the latter.

Revised Presentation, Reformed Memory and Evolution of Values

  • 37 Randy Sanders. « ‘The Sad Duty of Politics’: Jimmy Carter and the Issue of Race in His 1970 Guberna (...)

18This was not entirely a duplicitous fiction just to garner votes. Many of the Southern whites of influence agitating for change – such as Sanders, Allen, McGill or Carter – were themselves proud of their Southern heritage and descent from Confederates; they presumably saw themselves as scions of the old order who were working to change and better their cities and states without necessarily undermining the efforts and accomplishments of past leaders whom they succeeded. Some indeed, were not above tacitly pandering to racists to get the support they needed to undo institutionalized racism37. In any case, it seems that the idea took root, was perpetuated and became ingrained in the South by the early 1970s, when children were frequently taught racial equality on the one hand, but that these symbols of the Old South and pride in Southern heritage were equally acceptable and praiseworthy on the other.

  • 38 Samuel Johnson, « Taxation Not Tyranny an answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Con (...)
  • 39 Barnes, personal communication, December 2013. It should be noted that Lincoln himself also anticip (...)
  • 40 Winston Churchill, « If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg », The Wisconsin Magazine of Histo (...)
  • 41 Though Barnes is emphatic that the war came about over the question of slavery.

19While the ability to hold dear two such ideals which might seem mutually antagonistic probably appears perplexing to many, it ought to be added that it was by no means an unprecedented occurrence, particularly in the South. Just prior to the American Revolution, British statesman Samuel Johnson is reported to have quipped, « How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes38? » He had a point, and it was ironic that the Declaration of Independence, declaring that « all men are created equal », was penned the following year by a prominent Virginia slave-owner, Thomas Jefferson, who likewise accused the British king in the same document of having « excited domestic insurrections amongst us », a reference to purported efforts by the British to incite American slaves to rebel if their colonial overlords revolted. There is some evidence that Jefferson, Madison, Washington and perhaps even Lee, all Southern slave-holders, personally considered slavery distasteful and hoped to find a solution to it. Former Governor Roy Barnes points out that slavery would have had to have come to an end at some point even if there had been no « War Between the States », as had already been done peacefully in British and French territories with compensation (1834 and 1848 respectively), and as would subsequently be the case in Cuba (1886) and Brazil (1888)39. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, an admirer of the Old South, also suggested that had the Confederacy won the war, one of its first resolutions would be to abolish slavery40. Some could therefore argue that admiration for the Old South or the Confederacy was not necessarily equated with approval of slavery, a desire to maintain slavery, or even segregation by many of the Southern white integrationists of the 1960s. Instead, some of them might have sincerely fancied themselves as fulfilling the goals of their predecessors who had failed to find solutions to slavery (or the later “negro question” as the debate over what to do with the freedmen had been put) rather than revolutionizing the « Southern way of life41 ». They considered themselves progressive Southerners, proud of their past, but also proud of change.

  • 42 Roy Barnes, personal communication, December 2013.
  • 43 This was noted particularly in the Stone Mountain Cemetery, where the new Georgia flag appears to b (...)

20More recently, and perhaps more to the point, since at least World War I most Southerners saw no impediment to being simultaneously American patriots and fiercely proud of Southern heritage. Indeed, as Barnes points out, Southerners have always provided the US armed forces with a disproportionately large percentage of personnel42. From World War I until the Vietnam War, it was not uncommon to see these soldiers displaying Confederate battle flags along with, or sometimes instead of, the Stars and Stripes. Inversely, today small American flags are placed on the graves of CSA soldiers in cemeteries around Atlanta43. Being proud of antebellum and Confederate heritage seems to have been equated in the popular mind of most white Southerners with American patriotism. Perhaps this somewhat schizophrenic ability to be a loyal American patriot while maintaining a fierce pride in the Confederacy – an erstwhile country that rebelled against the United States – paved the way for full acceptance of racial equality in a new New South on the one hand, and simultaneous pride in an Old South for whom such a sentiment would be anathema and antithetical on the other.

  • 44 See Dwyer, « Symbolic Accretion », op. cit.
  • 45 Jonathan I. Leib, « Separate Times Shared Spaces: Arthur Ashe, Monument Avenue and the Politics of (...)

21The way in which these different themes intertwine is forever changing as their relationship, and understanding of it, continues to evolve. More recent endeavors to rehabilitate such monuments – whose sheer magnitude or prominence precludes hiding, removing or ignoring them – is through direct re-appropriation of them, at least in part. This approach is akin to the symbolic accretion noted by Dwyer, but also stands in opposition to it in that it embellishes the monument itself, not its original (questionable) cause, by grafting elements that commemorate the Civil Rights Movement rather than the Lost Cause44. A noted example is the effort to « integrate » Richmond’s Monument Avenue, « still considered to be the South’s grandest Confederate memorial site with a statue of the late African American […] human rights activist Arthur Ashe », which « triggered a debate […] centered on issues of race relations, identity and power45 ».

  • 46 Jim Galloway, « A Monument to MLK will Crown Stone Mountain », Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12 Oct (...)

22While a portion of Atlanta’s Memorial Drive has already been renamed for MLK, current plans underway to establish a fitting monument to King seem to tie in more coherently. Inspired by King’s powerful 1963 « I Have a Dream » speech, state authorities have approved plans to erect a replica of the Liberty Bell on the summit of the mountain, a « freedom bell » yards from where the KKK was refounded a century ago; this bell will be inscribed with the line « Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia » delivered in that speech, and the bell will be rung as a reminder of those words and as a sounding for such freedoms. The CEO of the Memorial association stated « We think it’s a great addition to the historical offerings we have here, » though he emphasized that there were no plans to efface the carving or rename park streets honoring Confederate leaders. « We’re into additions and not subtractions », he stated, and it is reported that « When describing that exhibit for African-American soldiers in the Civil War, Stephens repeatedly stressed the phrase ‘on both sides’46 ».

  • 47 Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak, « Institutionalizing Counter-Memories of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement: Th (...)

23From a sociological point of view, these developments, as indeed all of them from the mid-twentieth century, could be seen as manifestations of Derrick Bell’s interest-convergence principle, succinctly stated by Pelak as « the convergence of white and black interests, specifically the economic and political interests of white elites and the cultural and political interests of black symbolic entrepreneurs47 ». For the average Atlantan, while some still call for the destruction of the megalithic carving, and while a few others actually protest this new addition, most are willing to allow both to co-exist in a harmonious juxtaposition that might perplex outsiders, but which insiders increasingly see as par for the course.

  • 48 Both opinions provided in personal conversation with the author.

24So pinning down the defining hallmarks of Southernness is difficult, and it might mean different things to different people, just as the same symbols might represent different things to different Southerners. In Mr. King's words, « Southerners are consistently inconsistent », a quip with which Governor Barnes unhesitatingly agreed48. So while the juxtaposition of progressive New South ideals and Old South nostalgia often perplexes outsiders, most Atlantans seem to find a place for both in their city. If they cannot find it in their own hearts, they are usually able to indulge it in the hearts of others, for whom, they recognize, certain symbols and certain nostalgia might not have the same connotations. It is not simply a co-existence, but both seem to be integral to the fabric of the city, the state, and the South, one the warp and one the weave.

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Notes

1 A contrasting example is provided by Selma, Alabama with twenty-first-century efforts to commemorate Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry office and later founder of the KKK. Unlike Stone Mountain, where the Confederate past tends to be downplayed more than aggrandized, the « symbolic accretion...of commemorative elements onto already existing elements » has « pits memorial activists associated with the Civil Rights Movement against neo‐Confederates ». Owen J. Dwyer, « Symbolic Accretion and Commemoration », Social and Cultural Geography, 2004, 5(3), p. 419-435.

2 Karen L. Cox, Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture, Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 2003, p. xi. See also: H. E. Gulley, « Women and the Lost Cause: Preserving a Confederate Identity in the American Deep South », Journal of Historical Geography, 1993, 19(2), p. 125-141. See in particular: Grace Elizabeth Hale, « Granite Stopped Time: Stone Mountain Memorial and the Representation of White Southern Identity », The Georgia Historical Quarterly, 1998, 82(1), p. 22-44. See also: Cynthia Mills and Pamela H. Simpson (eds.), Monuments to the Lost Cause: Women, Art and the Landscapes of Southern Memory, Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 2003, in which Hale’s article is reproduced.

3 Roberts and Company Associates Architects-Engineers, Stone Mountain Memorial Report and Plans Prepared for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, Atlanta, 1959, p. 2, accessible online via: Matthew G. Muller, Corey W. McLellan, and Charles F. Irons, Shades of Gray: the Changing Focus of Stone Mountain Park, An internet project for American Studies Department of the University of Virginia, Spring 1996, accessed 1 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/maste1.html.

4 William Archibald Dunning. Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865–1877, New York, Harper, 1905.

5 Adam Fairclough, « Was the Grant of Black Suffrage a Political Error? Reconsidering the Views of John W. Burgess, William A. Dunning, and Eric Foner on Congressional Reconstruction », Journal of The Historical Society, 2012, 12, p. 155-188, p. 155.

6 Irvin D. S. Winsboro, « The Confederate Monument Movement as a Policy Dilemma for Resource Managers of Parks, Cultural Sites, and Protected Places: Florida as a Case Study », The George Wright Forum, 2016, 33(2), p. 217-229. Winsboro focuses particularly on difficulties arising from not only the maintenance of such parks, but the problems posed by neo-Confederates wanting to exploit or contribute to them. In many ways, his observations in Florida stand in contrast to what is found in Stone Mountain Park.

7 John Temple Graves, Atlanta Georgian, 1914. Accessible via Matthew G. Muller et. al., op. cit., accessed 1 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/graves.html.

8 Notably Presidents Harding (OH) and Coolidge (VT). See: Matthew G. Muller et al., « Federal Government », op. cit., accessed 1 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/federal.html.

9 Most notably by Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, a proponent of Civil Rights, and Reed Smoot, both traditionally seen « as enemies of the South ». See: Matthew G. Muller et al., « The Borglum Era », op. cit., accessed 3 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/timeln2.html.

10 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « 1925 Confederate Half Dollar », op. cit., accessed 1 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/coin.html.

11 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Samuel Hoyt Venable”, op. cit., accessed 3 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/venable.html.

12 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “State Involvement, 1950s”, op. cit., accessed 4 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/timeln4.html.

13 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Lukeman Era”, op. cit., accessed 3 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/timeln3.html.

14 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « State Involvement, 1950s », op. cit.

15 Matthew G. Muller, et al., « The Hancock Era, 1960s », op. cit., accessed 5 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/timeln5.html.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 « Shame and Disgrace », Atlanta Constitution, 9 May 1970. Via Matthew G. Muller, et al., op. cit., accessed 5 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/agnew.html.

19 The federal government did, however, issue commemorative stamps in 1970 to mark the occasion, but this lacked the visibility of a presidential visit.

20 Matthew G. Muller, et al., “Increasing Diversity, 1980s-90s”, op. cit., accessed 5 March 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/timeln6.html

21 Ibid.

22 Stone Mountain Park Lasershow Song List [Online]. Consulted 5 March 2014. URL: http://www.stonemountainpark.com/activities/shows-entertainment/Lasershow.aspx.

23 « Stone Mountain Park Debuts New Lasershow Spectacular™ in Mountainvision This Summer », PR Newswire, 21 March 2011, accessed 7 March 2014. URL: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/stone-mountain-park-debuts-new-lasershow-spectacular-in-mountainvision-this-summer-118359159.html.

24 « Petition wants Stone Mt. Confederate carving removed », 11 Alive News, Atlanta, 30 April 2013, accessed 9 March 2014. URL: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/290674/40/Petition-wants-Stone-Mt-Confederate-carving-removed.

25 In a letter to his son dated Jan. 23, 1961, Lee wrote: « I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union… Secession is nothing but revolution… [The Constitution] is intended for ‘perpetual Union,’ so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in the convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government. » See Robert E. Lee, « The Evils of Anarchy and Civil War: January 1961 » in Brooks D. Simpson, Stephen W. Sears and Aaron Sheehan-Dean (ed.), The Civil War: the First Year Told By Those Who Lived It, New York, the Library of America, 2012, p. 199-200.

26 See Robert E. Lee, « Letter to his wife on slavery (selections; December 27, 1856) », accessed 7 March 2014. URL: http://fair-use.org/robert-e-lee/letter-to-his-wife-on-slavery: « In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.” It ought to be added, however, that the letter is also a condemnation of “progressive efforts of certain people of the North, to interfere with & change the domestic institutions of the South […] [who] must also be aware, that their object is both unlawful & entirely foreign to them. »

27 Douglas R. Freeman, R. E. Lee, A Biography, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934, p. 476. It is to be noted that he was required to do this by the will of George Washington Park Custis – step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington and the father of Lee’s wife, Anna – to free the slaves he inherited from his father within five years of his death in 1857. Many of the slaves were unhappy that they were held to bondage for five more years, having been given to believe that their freedom would be immediate. Some tried to run away and were punished with whippings and by being sent away from Arlington House to work in other, presumably less comfortable, conditions.

28 Gamaliel Bradford, Lee the American, [1912, revised 1927], Mineola, NY, Dover Publications, 2004, p. 65.

29 « Petition wants Stone Mt. Confederate carving removed », op. cit.

30 Chris Springer, « The Troubled Resurgence of the Confederate Flag », History Today, 1993, p. 7.

31 Matthew G. Muller et al., op. cit., accessed 27 Feb 2014. URL: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/stone/home.html.

32 See for example: Owen J. Dwyer, « Location, Politics, and the Production of Civil Rights Memorial Landscapes », Urban Geography, 2002, 23(1), p. 31-56.

33 Martin L. King, III, personal communication, 17 December 2013.

34 « Gone with the Wind », dir David O. Selznick, USA, 1939.

35 Ibid.

36 A comparison can be made with far right groups usurping national emblems to such an extent that they are frequently associated with those groups rather than being used neutrally to represent a nation and its people as a whole. A notable example is the British National Party’s use of the Union Jack, resulting in many Britons hesitating to use it for fear of being associated with the far right as much as fear of genuinely offending others.

37 Randy Sanders. « ‘The Sad Duty of Politics’: Jimmy Carter and the Issue of Race in His 1970 Gubernatorial Campaign », The Georgia Historical Quarterly, 1992, 76(3), p. 612-38.

38 Samuel Johnson, « Taxation Not Tyranny an answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress, 1775 », Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 14, New York, Pafraets and Co., 1913, p. 144.

39 Barnes, personal communication, December 2013. It should be noted that Lincoln himself also anticipated compensated emancipation, and it is believed he may have suggested as much to the Confederate commissioners at the 1865 Hampton Roads Peace Conference; it is certain that he subsequently proposed to Congress that $400 million in compensation be offered to masters dispossessed of their slaves, considering that the North had historically been complicit in the slave trade as well. See: Ludwell H. Johnson, « Lincoln's Solution to the Problem of Peace Terms, 1864-1865 », Journal of Southern History, 1968, 34(4) p. 576-586, on p. 582-583; see also: Walter Stahr, Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012 Stahr, Seward, 2012, p. 426.

40 Winston Churchill, « If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg », The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 44, No. 4, Summer 1961, p. 243-251. As commentary, see: Catherine Gallagher, « When did the Confederate States of America Free the Slaves? » in Representations, 2007, 98(1), p. 53-61.

41 Though Barnes is emphatic that the war came about over the question of slavery.

42 Roy Barnes, personal communication, December 2013.

43 This was noted particularly in the Stone Mountain Cemetery, where the new Georgia flag appears to be the first national Confederate flag when it is at rest, and where a new monument to the Confederate dead has recently been erected.

44 See Dwyer, « Symbolic Accretion », op. cit.

45 Jonathan I. Leib, « Separate Times Shared Spaces: Arthur Ashe, Monument Avenue and the Politics of Richmond, Virginia’s Symbolic Landscape », Cultural Geographies, 2002, 9(3), p. 286-312.

46 Jim Galloway, « A Monument to MLK will Crown Stone Mountain », Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12 October 2015.

47 Cynthia Fabrizio Pelak, « Institutionalizing Counter-Memories of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement: The National Civil Rights Museum and an Application of the Interest-Convergence Principle », Sociological Forum (2015) 30(2), p. 305-327, p. 305.

48 Both opinions provided in personal conversation with the author.

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John Ford, « The Same Old New South: Pride or Prejudice? », Les Cahiers de Framespa [En ligne], 24 | 2017, mis en ligne le 22 janvier 2017, consulté le 27 juin 2017. URL : http://framespa.revues.org/4258 ; DOI : 10.4000/framespa.4258

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John Ford

John Ford est maître de conférences à l'Université Champollion d'Albi, France, et membre du CAS (Cultures anglo-saxonnes) EA 801.
ford.john@hotmail.com

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