Princess Anne County Confederate Monument (1905-2020)
Backstory and Context
Following the Civil War, Confederate veterans and families desired a monument to commemorate their service during the war. The primary sponsor, the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans, garnered the approval from the Board of Supervisors of Princess Anne County to put the statue in front of the Princess Anne County Courthouse. Thereafter, on April 4, 1903, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution allowing Princess Anne County to pay $500 from the County Levy to James H. Bonney of the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans to assist in the construction of the monument. In addition to the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans, some primary sponsors of the monument include the Princess Anne Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy, Princess Anne Mason Lodge No. 25, and the Princess Anne Sons of Confederate Veterans. On the day of the unveiling, 1,500 people from across Tidewater, including Norfolk and Portsmouth, ventured to Princess Anne County to witness the monument. It was celebrated by these individuals as a means of cherishing their service and their family's service during the Civil War.
The monument is inscribed with the following:
1861- Virginia - 1865
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Princess Anne County Confederate Heroes
Your arms are stacked,
Your splendid colors furled,
Your drums are still,
Aside, your trumpets laid
Beginning in 2017, many Confederate monuments came under fire as people cited the monuments reflected a time period in which people of African descent were held in the bondage of slavery and in the years after, where African American people were systematically discriminated against. This specific monument was under controversy because of its location in front of the Princess Anne County Courthouse. While this was a central location, critics note that slave auctions were regularly held there, and they believe that the monument was placed there as a reminder to people of color that they were once in chains. Additionally, some people note that the monument was placed in front of the central court of the county, thus believing it was meant to intimidate people of color, representing imbalances and the unfair treatment of the court system. They therefore reason it should be taken down.
Conversely, defenders of the monument cite that their ancestors placed the monument because they were proud of their service to their former country, the Confederate States of America, and their Commonwealth of Virginia. They do not believe the monument is racist or had the intentions to intimidate people of color. Other defenders of the monument believe that the monument's placement is history, and must be preserved. These defenders say that the monument serves as a vital reminder of America's past, and should not be removed.
In January 2020, the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission formally recommended to the Virginia Beach City Council that "the removal of the statue, even if allowed by state law, would accomplish little in reconciling differences or promoting discussion on the impacts of slavery, the Civil War, segregation and discrimination." Rather than removal, the Commission called for new interpretive plaque acknowledging slavery's history. As the Commission's statement suggests, there were legal doubts as to whether the monument could be legally removed, as Virginia legal code prevents the removal of war monuments. Yet the Virginia General Assembly ultimately passed a law in 2020 that allowed local communities to remove Confederate statues if they chose.
In July 2020, following the death of Black man George Floyd, nationwide protests over systemic racism, and the removal of many Confederate monuments across the nation, the Virginia Beach City Council again considered the issue of the Princess Anne Confederate Monument. Following public comments on July 23, the Council voted unanimously (11-0) to remove and store the monument. Two days later on July 25, crews removed the monument, leaving only the stone base. As one onlooker noted, "To see that happen, to see it gone now, I mean, it's a start. You know that's change." The monument currently remains in storage, and the city will consider proposals from museums and historical groups regarding the monument's future.
1. Alissa Skelton. "Rally against Virginia Beach Confederate monument this afternoon." August 24, 2017. Virginian-Pilot. Web. Accessed January 10, 2018. https://www.pilotonline.com/government/local/article_e68fb12f-71a3-5f47-85fc-1978036af233.html
2. Alissa Skelton. "Confederate monumetn can't be moved in Virginia Beach, city attorney says." Virginian-Pilot. Web. Accessed January 10, 2018. https://www.pilotonline.com/government/local/article_fc33c4fa-01cc-5a71-b8c3-b52ffb726ce5.html
3. Katherine Hafner, Amir Vera, and Ryan Murphy. "Intentional or not, local Confederate monuments were built on or near former slave sites." August 18, 2017. Virginian-Pilot. Web. Accessed July 29, 2020. https://www.pilotonline.com/history/article_c09deef2-f83c-5181-837b-23970020b2fc.html
4. Associated Press. "Virginia Beach group: Confederate statue should stay, with changes." January 28, 2020. WAVY. Web. Accessed July 30, 2020. https://www.wavy.com/news/local-news/virginia-beach/virginia-beach-group-confederate-statue-should-stay-with-changes/
5. Sarah Fearing and Greena Arevalo. "Virginia Beach council votes unanimously to move Confederate monument." July 24, 2020. WAVY. Web. Accessed July 30, 2020. https://www.wavy.com/news/local-news/virginia-beach/virginia-beach-votes-unanimously-to-move-confederate-monument/
6. "Crews remove Confederate monument in Virginia Beach." July 25, 2020. 13News Now. Web. Accessed July 30, 2020. https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local/mycity/virginia-beach/crews-remove-confederate-monument-in-virginia-beach/291-897c541d-90ae-4e6d-97d1-858e21b5dce0
7. Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio and Amir Vera. "Virginia House and Senate adopt bill allowing localities to remove Confederate statues and monuments." March 9, 2020. CNN. Web. Accessed July 31, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/09/us/virginia-confederate-monuments-bill-trnd/index.html
Doug Wieder, 13News Now, https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local/mycity/virginia-beach/crews-remove-confederate-monument-in-virginia-beach/291-897c541d-90ae-4e6d-97d1-858e21b5dce0