The base of the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond without a statue on it.
The base of the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond without a statue on it.
Photo illustration: Eric Johnson

The statues themselves don’t tell us much at all.

“Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny,” President Trump said during his July 3 address at the foot of Mount Rushmore.

Of Elizabeth Warren’s amendment to a defense spending bill requiring that American military bases be stripped of Confederate names, her fellow senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said, “I just don’t think that Congress mandating that these be renamed and attempting to erase that part of our history is a way…


Past Is Prologue

History studies the evolution of landscapes. Freezing them in time helps no one.

Photo illustration: Eric Johnson; Image sources: Library of Congress/Will Fisher/Creative Commons

A couple of folks have recently asked me how, as a historian (I’m a librarian now, not a historian, but I have a master’s in U.S. history), I could be so very supportive of the removal of Confederate monuments from Monument Avenue here in Richmond, Virginia.

During the Civil War, Richmond served as the capital of the Confederate States of America. In the years and decades that followed the war, the city reconstructed the history, memory, and mythology of the South and the war it had fought a generation before. The most vivid manifestation of that effort was the creation…


A picture of Emoluments Claus, a Santa Claus figure wearing all black robes holding the scales of justice.
A picture of Emoluments Claus, a Santa Claus figure wearing all black robes holding the scales of justice.
Emoluments Claus

DEAR EDITOR: I am 73 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Emoluments Clause.
Papa says, ‘If you see it on Hannity it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there an Emoluments Clause?

DONALD J. TRUMP.
1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW.

DONALD, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the ignorance of an ignorant age. They do not believe except they see on Fox & Friends. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Donald, whether they be adults’ or children’s, are little. …

Eric Johnson

Academic librarian in Richmond, Virginia. History, memory, public lands, museums, research communication, data viz. Twitter: @ericdmj

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