1914, 1962 articles detail ‘presentation’ and gift of Confederate monument to City, Parish
Records: United Daughters of the Confederacy paid $3,100 for construction of monument
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Multiple articles found within the archives of “The Town Talk” detail the history of the Confederate monument that now sits outside the Rapides Parish Courthouse and is the subject of recent debate of the possibility of removal.
On Friday, City Attorney David Williams filed a petition in that same courthouse to have a judge declare the City of Alexandria as the rightful owner to officially green-light the process that could lead to the Alexandria City Council removing the monument from the site. The case is currently assigned to Judge Monique Rauls. A court date to hear the matter has not been set yet. The Rapides Parish Police Jury and the Thomas Overton Moore Chapter #640 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy have been served with the petition.
Much of the debate about the process to possibly remove the monument circles around the question of who actually owns it. But, articles printed in 1914 and 1962, in what is now known as “The Town Talk,” help clear up the matter.
On March 28, 1914, the “Weekly Town Talk” printed a multi-page article detailing the “presentation” of the monument by the Thomas Overton Moore Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Records reflect that the monument was made in Italy of white marble and was “erected at a cost of $3,100.”
Rapides Parish District Attorney John R. Hunter accepted the monument on behalf of the parish. Mayor W.W. Whittington, Jr. “responded in behalf of Alexandria.” The presentation took place at the City Square, the site of the old Alexandria City Hall. A parade that stretched multiple city blocks followed.
“This monument has not been erected alone to the memory of those boys and men who poured out their life blood upon the fields of battle where fought the Army of Virginia or Tennessee or of the Trans-Mississippi Department, nor alone to those who died in Northern prisons away from their homes and the ones they loved so well, but equally to all of these and to those soldiers who returned to their homes to find their all had been destroyed by the invading army, to find that their fortunes had been destroyed by the liberation of their slaves, the destruction of their homes and must now face the future with nothing but their hands and their brains to work with,” Mayor Whittington is quoted as saying at the 1914 presentation.
Speakers included District Attorney Hunter, who said, “The object of this meeting is but another evidence of the generous goodness and greatness of the Southern Womanhood for the Daughters of the Confederacy have today bestowed this monument hewed of stone but builded of love, as a token of their appreciation of the heroic sacrifices and unselfish patriotism of the brave and faithful soldiers of our own Rapides.”
Major W. G. Mobley, the Commander of the Jeff Davis Camp, U.C.V. also addressed the crowd and spoke, in part, about slavery.
“Although our peculiar institution, slavery, was recognized as property and protected by the constitution, there was an irrepressible conflict being waged by the adherents of free and slave labor, which could not be suppressed, adjusted or reconciled,” Major Mobley said. Later, “While I did not so conceive at the time, I have since become imbued with the conviction that slavery was repugnant to the Christian sentiment of the whole civilized world, and it was only a question of time when emancipation would be forced upon the people of the South, as afterwards happened in Cuba and Brazil. But it would have been gradual, the owners would have been paid for their slaves and there would have been no such friction between the races as occurred in the South as a result of compulsory emancipation.”
On June 6, 1962, the renamed “Alexandria Daily Town Talk” published an article detailing plans by the City to “re-erect” the monument at the site of the new City Hall that was being constructed under then-Mayor W. George Bowdon’s administration.
Two months later, an announcement was made by the Alexandria City Council that the monument would be moved to the Rapides Parish Courthouse.
The Alexandria City Council will meet next Tuesday to discuss the next steps for the Confederate monument, if a decision about ownership is made in the 9th Judicial District Court by then.
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