Caddo Parish Confederate Monument
This monument was constructed by local members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905. The UDC is a national organization that grew out of a variety of local women's memorial associations formed after the war. While many of the early monuments created by these organizations were dedicated to local soldiers who perished in the war, by the turn of the century the organization worked to create monuments that lionized Confederate leaders and were located in prominent locations instead of cemeteries. This monument which combines busts of Lee, Jackson, Beauregard, and Brigadier General Henry W Allen, wartime Governor of Louisiana from 1864-65, demonstrates the organization's emphasis at the turn of the century. Rather than creating memorials to the men who perished, this monument and others were aimed at vindicating the antebellum South and controlling the historical narrative of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Backstory and Context
This Courthouse was completed in 1861 and served as the capital of Louisiana during the latter part of the Civil War The monument has aroused controversy in recent years, including a movement that calls on the government remove the monument. For some time, defenders of the monument argued that the monument is located on a small plot of ground that actually belongs to the United Daughters of the Confederacy rather than the public.
Historians who study the memory of the Civil War by neoConfederate groups categorize this monument and others as a representation of "The Cult of the Lost Cause," a reference to the idea that the Southern cause of defending antebellum culture and institutions, including slavery, was just. Those who defend the monument today typically deny the connection between secession and slavery.
In recent years, more and more Americans view this kind of celebratory monument and others that attempt to lionize Confederate leaders as remnants of white supremacy. Supporters of the monument said it symbolizes Southern heritage and argue that removing the monument is tantamount to deleting history.
Complicating the issue, there are also legal questions about whether the parish has the authority to remove the monument. Defenders of the monument argue that the courthouse square belongs to the descendants of Larkin Edwards, a friend of the Caddo Indians who sold much of the land that was the original Shreveport. However, there is no record that proves Edwards ever sold the land that is now the courthouse square.
On October 20, 2017, the Caddo Parish Commissioners voted to remove the controversial Confederate monument from the Caddo Parish Courthouse. The 7-5 decision came after nine months of community meetings and heated debate that continued during the commission meeting. Members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the women's organization that erected the monument in the early 1900s, hopes that a federal judge will block removal. The prospect of a Confederate heritage organization requesting federal assistance, like the monument itself, demonstrates that historical perspectives change over time. In July 2018, a federal judge dismissed the UDC's lawsuit and supported the local government's decision to remove the monument.
Wooten, Nick. Judge: Caddo Confederate monument can be moved. Shreveport Times. July 25, 2018. Accessed September 16, 2018. https://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2018/07/25/judge-says-caddo-Confederate-monument-can-moved/838305002/.