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Volunteer Park, Seattle

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Nestled in the private property of Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle, Washington, the United Confederate Veterans Memorial sat for nearly 100 years for all to see. With a history laced with racial tension, this monument has been a topic of controversy for Seattleites. Built from stone from the Ku Klux Klan’s Stone Mountain, the monument stands with the ideas of The Lost Cause, which is the idea that has been adopted by modern society that believes that slavery was benevolent and of benefit to Black and white people. Stone Mountain was the site of the first cross burning by the Ku Klux Klan in the twenty-first century by the first grand wizard, William Joseph Simmons. The stone was then purchased, sculpted, and placed by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The memorial was built in 1926 in Seattle by veterans who immigrated to the state of Washington to commemorate the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during and after the Civil War. The United Confederate Veterans Memorial has always been under scrutiny and has been defaced and pushed for removal for decades. Over the recent years, as racial tensions rise, the United Confederate Veterans Memorial has been targeted for removal and was toppled in July, 2020 following the protests of George Floyd’s death.

The United Confederate Veterans Memorial.

Memorial, Grave, Tree, Headstone

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial in Georgia was where the Ku Klux Klan held their revival in 1915.

Rock, Outcrop, Formation, Tree

A close up of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial depicting depicting Confederate Leaders Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Jefferson Davis.

Relief, Wall, Art, Painting

A card that depicts the Ku Klux Klan's revival in a cross burning ceremony at Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving, 1915.


The Make-It-Right foundation's list of the "Top 10 Most Unwanted Statues" in the United States.

Text, Brochure

Crowds demonstrate against police brutality on I-5 in Seattle in May following the death of George Floyd.

Metropolitan area, People, Crowd, Urban area

The United Confederate Veterans Memorial toppled in July 2020 after months of protest and vandalization.

Grave, Headstone, Cemetery, Tree

Monuments tell a variety of stories. From when they were first erected, to the message they put out today, monuments and memorials show, teach, and remember the good and bad parts of history. Nestled in the private property of Lake View Cemetery, the United Confederate Veterans Memorials in Seattle, Washington has had a complicated and controversial background.

The first thing that should come to mind when thinking about a Confederate monument is “why would there be a monument to a war that was not fought anywhere near the state of Washington?” This granite statue has been standing on the cemetery’s grounds since 1926, 60 years after the American Civil War took place on the East Coast. Washington was not an official state until it was recognized in 1889 (HistoryLink Staff) still over 30 years after the Civil War had concluded. As veterans of the Confederacy moved away from the South, they brought with them the idea of The Lost Cause which according to historian, Modupe Labode, was “ a historical ideology and social movement created by ex-Confederates that characterized the Confederate experience and defined its value for new generations (Labode).” The Lost Cause myth came about in the 1860’s when veterans and their wives made groups where they refuted ideas about the Confederacy that were considered “dishonorable.” The Lost Cause has seeped its way into present day American society having ideals that slavery was benevolent and was of benefit to both Black and white people. People have since begun to admire and romanticize the Lost Cause ideal as it is seen in many aspects of culture (Labode). In the academic journal, Neo-Confederacy by James Loewan, it says “Today it’s romance, ideology, and symbolism still sway millions of men and women - boys and girls - across the nation and around the world (Loewen).” Believers in the Lost Cause traveled all across the country bringing this idea with them, some making their way to the new state of Washington where veterans would go on to erect the United Confederate Veterans Memorial.

 The Daughters of the Confederacy, which was founded in 1894, is the group that sponsored the erection of the monument, specifically the Robert E. Lee Chapter No. 885 in 1911. Dedicated in 1926, the fourteen foot tall monument was carved from stone of the historic Stone Mountain in Georgia. The 42 foot deep and 400 feet in the air Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial depicts Confederate leaders and generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Jefferson Davis riding horses. The Stone Mountain in Georgia has been a historic part of the white supremist group, the Ku Klux Klan, when the first grand wizard, William Joseph Simmons led the Klan in their first cross burning in the twentieth century in 1915 on top of this mountain. The ceremony was held after Leo Frank, a Jewish superintendent convicted of murdering a thirteen year old Christian girl, was lynched. Since the first burning of the flag, Stone Mountain has been a symbolic meeting place for the Klan (Naa Baako Ako-Adjei and LeFevre). The memorial in Washington that came from this mountain stands for more than just the Confederacy with its roots in the mountain that is celebrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Daughters of the Confederacy, having some members move all the way to the Pacific Northwest, held a banquet for Confederate Veterans on August 10, 1909 in Seattle. Many southern speakers were in attendance along with Confederate veterans of the Civil War. With the support and funds raised by the event, the Daughters of the Confederacy raised enough money to buy a plot for the memorial (Savransky). Since the erection of the monument, there have been many ceremonies held at the monument dedicating honors to the Confederates who lost their lives during or following the Civil War (McNerthy). Within the next twenty years, the monument would be erected in Seattle, drawing many people to its grounds. 

For nearly 100 years, the memorial has been a controversial symbol since 1926. In the late twentieth and early to current twenty-first century, there have been pushes to remove this monument from the Seattle cemetery. The United Confederate Veterans Memorial has been defaced and graffitied for years. There have been petitions for the monument's removal and under the Independent Media Institute’s “Make it Right” project, it says that the United Confederate Veterans Memorial is the sixth most unwanted structure that romanticized slavery and showed white supremacy (Petition by Zach). Petitions have been signed by many in Seattle and it strived to get the Seattle government to remove the monument. Seattle residents had gotten the local officials to take action but pushback from notable people like President Trump who did not want statues to be removed (Savransky). The City Council has heard groups speak on the subject and the Mayor of Seattle called for its removal in 2017 after the Lake View Cemetery had to close, “due to the controversy over Confederate memorials (Seattle Times Staff).” The former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, “We must remove statues and flags that represent this country’s abhorrent history of slavery and oppression based on the color of people’s skin. It is the right thing to do (LeFevre).” 

The Vice President of Seattle Veterans for Peace Chapter 92, Michael Dedrick said “slavery is not a 21st century standard,” and events such as Charleston and Charlottesville started prompting the debate for the removal of Confederate statues, the United Confederate Veterans Memorial being one of them (LeFevre). In May 2020, George Floyd’s death sparked a series of protests against systemic racism and police brutality. These monuments that memorialize a group that stood for slavery have been under fire since these protests began. Monuments and memorials depicting Confederate leaders were defaced and some even toppled.

Seattle has been stricken with violent protests and over the Fourth of July weekend of 2020, the United Confederate Veterans Memorial that has stood for almost 100 years was toppled by protesters (Seattle Times Staff). While the Seattle City Council has called for the removal of the United Confederate Veterans Memorial, the memorial was not officially removed. Those who take responsibility for removing the memorial are not known.

Boissoneault, Lorraine. What Will Happen to Stone Mountain, America's Largest Confederate Memorial?, Smithsonian Magazine. August 22nd 2017. Accessed November 4th 2020.

HistoryLink Staff. Washington is admitted as the 42 state to the United States of America on November 11, 1889, HIstoryLink. Accessed October 8th 2020.

Labode, Module. Confronting Confederate Monuments in the Twenty-First Century. Chapter 2.

LeFevre, Charlotte. Removing Seattle's Confederate Memorial: United Daughters of the Confederacy, Veterans for Peace and a Museum find Common Ground, Seattle Pi. March 20th 2018. Accessed September 14th 2020.

Loewen, James W. Neo-Confederacy. Edited by EUAN HAGUE et al., University of Texas Press, 2008. JSTOR, Accessed 14 Sept. 2020.

Naa Baako Ako-Adjei. “Why It’s Time Schools Stopped Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird.” Transition, No. 122, Indiana University Press, 2017. Pp. 182-200. Accessed 8 October 2020.

Savransky, Becca. “A Confederate Monument was Toppled in Seattle. Why was it Even There?” Seattle Pi, 10 July 2020. Accessed 14 September 2020.

Seattle Times Staff. “Memorial to Confederate Soldiers Toppled at Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery.” The Seattle Times, 6 July 2020.

Zach. “Removal of United Confederate Veterans Memorial in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Lake View Cemetery.” 2018, with signatures from July 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Ringman, Steve. United Confederate Veterans Memorial. The Seattle Times, Christine Clarridge, August 16, 2017.

Boyd, Raymond. “Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial.” New York Post, Paula Froelich, NYP Holdings, August 15, 2020.

Balfour Evans, Greg. "Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial features General Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis - and has stirred up controversy in Georgia for years." Smithsonian Magazine, Lorraine Boissoneault, 22 August 2017.

“A Klan cross-lighting at Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving, 1915.” Southern Poverty Law Center, Debra McKinney, February 10, 2018.

Make It Right. "Make It Right's 10 Most Unwanted Statues." Independent Media Institute. 12 July 2018.

Schultz, Erika.Crowds demonstrate against Police Brutality on I-5 in Seattle in May. The Seattle Times, Heidi Groover, May 30, 2020.

Bettina, Hansen. Confederate monument spray painted and toppled. The Seattle Times, Seattle Times Staff, July 6, 2020.