On my way to Franklin, Tennessee to give my talk to the Round Table there February 9, we stopped in Richmond to take a stroll/drive down Monument Avenue.
As readers know, this road is by any definition the best exemplar of a triumphal paean of praise to the Lost Cause — or at least it used to be until 1996 when a statue of Arthur Ashe was added to the avenue.
The first and most important (or at least the largest) statue is that of Robert E. Lee astride his horse. It was inaugurated in 1890. To its east and west two monuments, one to J.E.B. Stuart and one to (non-Virginian) Jefferson Davis, were inaugurated in 1907. Further to the west, the monument to “Stonewall” Jackson was inaugurated in 1919, and one to Matthew Maury to its west was inaugurated in 1929.
In some ways the addition of the statue of Ashe to this particular avenue can be said to be the beginning of the modern re-thinking of the Confederate statue/memorial issue. In recent years the debate has become rancorous, though that in turn has led to some sensible compromises. My next blog post will cover one example of that welcome new approach to this difficult problem, in Franklin, Tennessee.
Below are my photos of the monuments, from east to west, and an overall photo of the tree-lined avenue.