Robert E. Lee Memorial Highway Marker
As part of national movements to name interstate highways for the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, the state division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) dedicated two routes through South Carolina to the men in the early twentieth century. Through public monuments and educational programs, the UDC glorified the Confederacy, explained secession as a political act rather than a defense of slavery, and vilified the federal government’s empowerment of African Americans during Reconstruction.
The UDC designated a series of roads that crossed the state from Charleston to Greenville to Robert E. Lee in 1938. It was dedicated with a “living Confederate flag” on the State House steps composed of over 1,000 people dressed in red, white, and blue. The marker for the highway features the seal of the Confederate States of America and its depiction of George Washington, which the Confederacy had used to legitimize its claim as the second coming of the American Revolution. Interstate I-26 replaced the system of roads that composed the Robert E. Lee Memorial Highway when it was constructed between 1957 and 1969.