Asheboro United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial
The United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial in Asheboro is located in front of the historic Randolph County Courthouse on Worth Street. This monument was erected in 1911 to recognize Confederate veterans from Asheboro. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was established as a women's organization both to support living Confederate veterans and also to shape the memory of the Civil War in a way that supported a doctrine known as the Lost Cause. One of the pillars of that doctrine was that the antebellum South was an ideal society and that secession and slavery as practiced in the American South was morally justified. As part of that effort to shape the historical narrative, UDC members wrote books and articles and also held ceremonies and dedicated monuments that presented the Confederacy in a positive light. This monument was damaged in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo. In 2022, the city council passed a resolution calling for the statue to be removed, but county leaders voted in opposition.
UDC Monument Asheboro
UDC Monument in front of the Historic Courthouse
Base of the UDC Monument
Memorial with 1909 Courthouse
Backstory and Context
The Confederate Memorial was unveiled on September 2, 1911, in front of the 1909 Courthouse, now the Historic County Courthouse on Worth Street. This monument was erected in remembrance of Confederate veterans of Asheboro and surrounding areas and was first suggested by Mrs. E. E. Moffitt, the daughter of the North Carolina governor Jonathon Worth. In 1906 she helped to organize the Randolph County chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The organization's primary initial goal was the creation of this monument.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy was established on September 10, 1894, in Nashville, Tennessee. An outgrowth of Ladies’ Memorial Associations, it was formed as a “federation of all Southern Women’s Auxiliary, Memorial, and Soldiers’ Aid Services.” This organization grew quickly with chapters at the local and state levels. The main purpose of the UDC was to furnish “authentic information from which a conscientious historian will be enabled to write a correct and impartial history of the Confederate side during the struggle for Southern independence.”
This version of history, commonly referred to as "the Lost Cause," seeks to vindicate white Southerners by downplaying the horrific nature of slavery while also denying that the extension and preservation of slavery was the root cause of the war. In a catechism that was used to teach children about the Lost Cause context of the Civil War published from Texas, one question asked was “Did the people of the South believe that slavery was right?” The required answer was “No, not as a principle…but after the Constitution of the United States had recognized the slaves as property, and the wealth of the South was largely invested in negroes, they did not feel it was just to submit to wholesale robbery.” They also continued by saying the slaves had always been treated kindly, that they were content being enslaved, and that cruel masters were rare. UDC members also required students to downplay attrition in the Confederate army by claiming Confederate soldiers fought with more valor but were simply "overpowered by numbers.”
The goals of the UDC to shape the historical narrative can be seen in the work of historian-general from the years 1911-1916, Mildred Lewis Rutherford. Advocating the old racial hierarchies, she degraded African slaves in America by labeling them as “ignorant and brutal,” while praising the Ku Klux Klan. In 2017, UDC president-general Patricia Bryson released a statement denouncing “any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy.”
The Monmment standing in front of the Randolph County Courthouse is a bronze Confederate soldier stepping forward with his weight resting on his musket as he stares into the distance. He stands on top of a pedestal with a granite base. The pedestal is 25’10”, and the base is 9’6”. The monument was from Winston-Salem, through the Blue Pearl Granite Company, and the base was a Mt. Airy granite. The 6’ tall statue was bought from W.H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio, who sold both Confederate and Union soldier statues. It was unveiled on September 2, 1911, featuring the North Carolina Chief Justice Walter M. Clark, a Confederate veteran and author, as the keynote speaker of the ceremony. There was music as well as a dinner hosted by the UDC at the nearby Presbyterian Church.
The statue has withstood modern criticism and was almost destroyed in Hurricane Hugo. That 1989 storm almost toppled the statue from its pedestal. The iron armature inside had corroded, leaving the statue light enough to flip over. It was restored by Van der Staak, who had to reconstruct the shoe, rifle butt, and arm of the statue, which totaled to $4,800, paid half by Cablevision of Asheboro, and half by the county. Ever since, he has been nicknamed “Hugo” by some locals.
- Whatley, L. McKay . The Randolph County Confederate Memorial, Notes on the History of Randolph County, NC. August 17th 2017. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://randolphhistory.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/the-randolph-county-Confederate-monument/.
- Whatley, L. McKay . Monuments and Memorials in Randolph County, Accessed September 23rd 2019. http://www.randolphcountync.gov/Portals/0/HLPC/Documents/Monuments%20and%20Memorials%20in%20Randolph%20County%20illus.pdf?ver=2017-08-31-153834-607.
- DocSouth. Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, DocSouth. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/monument/94.
- Janney, Caroline E. . United Daughters of the Confederacy, Encyclopedia Virginia. January 11th 2019. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/United_Daughters_of_the_Confederacy.
- Stone, Caroline Branch . U.D.C. Catechism for Children, Encyclopedia Virginia. October 3rd 2018. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Children_U_D_C_Catechism_for_1904.
- Objectives of the UDC, United Daughters of the Confederacy. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://hqudc.org/objectives/.
- Palmer, Brian . The Costs of the Confederacy, Smithsonian Magazine. Invalid date. Accessed September 23rd 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/costs-confederacy-special-report-180970731/.