South Carolina Monument to the Confederate Dead
The women-led South Carolina Monument Association originally commissioned this monument for a site on Arsenal Hill, as the Republican-controlled State House was not a viable option during Reconstruction. Like many Lost Cause monuments erected by southern women in the decades immediately after the Civil War, it valorizes the sacrifices of soldiers fighting for a supposedly just cause. Trescot’s inscription asks viewers to “recognize that these were men whom power could not corrupt, whom death could not terrify, [and] whom defeat could not dishonor.” Its unveiling, which took place two years after the “redemption” of Wade Hampton III’s election, served as a statewide celebration of the end of Reconstruction and a way of unifying southern white men and women in a new era of Democratic governance. The figure was replaced in 1882 after the original monument was struck by lightening.
A Confederate flag flew alongside the monument from 2000 to 2015 as part of a compromise that removed the flag from the State House dome. This series of debates also created the African American History Monument and instituted the Heritage Act that still governs the grounds. After the murder of nine African Americans at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, the General Assembly voted to remove the flag.
As mentioned in Historically Complex: The Podcast
Introducing Historically Complex, a new podcast on the complicated histories of key monuments on the South Carolina State House grounds -- now available to stream and download on our website or your favorite podcast service!