Commissioners to seek county attorney guidance on Confederate monument

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/19/19

PITTSBORO — It was close to 10 p.m., nearly four hours after Monday’s Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting kicked off.

But the issue the hundreds of people came to hear about and speak about wasn’t fully resolved.

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Commissioners to seek county attorney guidance on Confederate monument

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PITTSBORO — It was close to 10 p.m., nearly four hours after Monday’s Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting kicked off.

But the issue the hundreds of people came to hear about and speak about wasn’t fully resolved.

The commissioners voted 4-1 Monday on a motion to instruct the county attorney to explore options for removing the Confederate monument from its current place in front of the Chatham County Historic Courthouse in downtown Pittsboro. The decision came after 42 public comments with varying opinions and a presentation from a group presenting a legal argument for giving the statue back to its original owners, the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Board Chairman Mike Dasher, who led off the evening with a plea for civility, graded the discussion with an A-minus for following through on that. Throughout the evening, various remarks made by public commenters on both sides were met with boos and cheers.

“People are passionate about it,” he said. “You’re talking about people’s families, family history, I get it.”

Dasher added that he think the meeting, held at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center, accomplished the desired purpose: to hear from individuals about their opinions and move forward deliberately. Asked about his opinion about the monument, he said he didn’t want to state his opinion publicly yet.

“I’m curious to see what our county attorney thinks,” he said. “We’ll see. It’s up to the board based on the county attorney’s determination.”

Karen Howard, the lone minority commissioner, said immediately after the public comments session concluded that she could tell which way a person was going to lean on the issue based on one factor. She made the motion to refer the subject to the county attorney.

“I could tell whether a person was for keeping the statue or getting rid of the statue by whether they looked at me,” she said. “I could tell before they got to the point, and that was disheartening. But it was reinforced over and over again in the language that was used.”

After the meeting, Howard said that, if a vote was held, she would have voted to remove and return the statue to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

“I would say to remove, but it’s part of a longer-term conversation,” she said. “It’s not a fix, it’s not a panacea. At the very least, we’re going to have to agree that it doesn’t reflect us all based on the output from the community.”

Board Vice Chairman Diana Hales seconded Howard’s motion, saying that she appreciated the number of people who came out “hopefully to hear, to listen, to express their concerns.”

“There are several tracks, and the question is what does the North Carolina statute actually say as we look at the conditions, the legal conditions, in Chatham County,” Hales said. “So I think that’s a first step.”

Commissioner Walter Petty, who earlier in the night announced his resignation from the board effective at the end of the month, asked that the motion be adapted to the effect of simply seeking information, not on the opportunities to remove the statue but simply the opportunities available to the board.

He continued, saying that it was “pretty evident” that this was a “no-win situation.” He admitted that he did not have the answer, but that it was important to “come out of this stronger and not weaker.”

“Quite honestly, removing it or leaving it is not going to fix the problem,” Petty said. “The problem we have, we’re dealing with a symptom. The statue’s a symptom, not the problem. The problem is the heart of people.”

He said the best way was to “truly get the emotion out of it,” and if that happened, “the decision becomes easier.”

There was no stated timetable for the county attorney to return an opinion. Dasher said Monday night that he hopes the conversation can wrapped up “soon.” Howard said she hoped to hear something within the next month or two and then develop a plan.

See a sample of some of the comments made at the Commissioners meeting by clicking here.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.comr or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.


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Cliff Page

The slander that the War between the States was over slavery or that the Confederacy was a defender or perpetrator of slavery, is blatant slander that should offend every son of Dixie. Particularly North Carolinians, who have lost more men in battle in every war America ever fought, than any other State. Most Southerners did not own slaves and particularly this is true of North Carolinians. By the 1850 census in the middle states, a large proportion of Negros were already freemen as liberalizing laws had been passed to make manumission easier on slaveholders. Secession occurred because of the Morrell Act which imposed a 45% tariff duty. This was the same tariff rate that had caused South Carolina to threaten secession in 1828, under Andrew Jackson. This rate had been reduced to 15% in the Great Compromise of Henry Clay. The new tariff would have meant that the South would pay 85% of the Federal budget. The South resented what they saw as their being bludgeoned by the Northern and Westerners, by over taxation. The South was the richest section of the nation and Mississippi the richest State in the Union. Their wealth was paying for Northern industrialization and Western expansion and railroads. This was far worse than a three-cent tax on tea in the minds of nearly all Southerners.

Every State had the right to secede. Virginia and five other states in agreeing to the ratification of the Constitution of 1887 stated in writing their right to secede for just cause. Texas also came into the Union as a Republic and had such an agreement. The Constitution protects all States with equal rights and with equipoise. Therefore, all other States had the same rights to secede. The States entered into a contract fairly and of their own volution and could remove themselves in an equal manner. When Virginia was ravaged by fire, burning part of Portsmouth in the conflagration set by Federal troops at the Gosport Navy Yard, and when she was invaded at Manassas twice, she defended herself with her Militia. Mr. Lincoln crossed into a sovereign state with Federal troops and had demanded that the States volunteer troops to force another state back into the Union. This was unconstitutional. The federal Government did not keep a large standing army, in keeping with the will of George Washington. The Federal Army in 1860 was only 8000 men. The States, Counties and City Militias were our national and State defense against invasion or tyranny. Lincoln violated the Constituion and both Northerners and Southerners resented this. Lincoln arrested half of the Maryland Legislature and threatened Chief Justice Taney with arrest. He shut down 2-300 presses and arrested over 2000 individuals who spoke out against his actions.

Lincoln was a tyrant who knew that he could not run the Federal Government without Southern revenues. Yet he is treated as a God today and the "Great Emancipator". Lincoln in his campaign for President did not run, nor mention abolition. In fact, he signed the Corwin 13th Amendment to the Constitution that would have enshrined the institution of slavery in States where it was legal. The South had no interest in signing this Amendment because they were not interested in the issue of slavery as an issue. Slavery was not the nexus of the War between the States. It was the Morrell Tariff, just as the similar Tariff of Abomination had driven South Carolina to threaten secession in 1928 had been.

Today the mantra of the Confederacy, Confederate symbols and Dixis as being representations of slavery and oppression of the Negro in America comes directly from the national headquarters of the NAACP in Baltimore. It is slander and libel and is seditious blather meant to divide the South, undermine our national history, and promote the power of black majorities in urban centers to underserving power. This slander needs to be met with strong rebuttal based on historical accuracy and forceful words. Those spineless jellyfish in political power suffering from self-induced maladies of white guilt or who have drunk too much NAACP Kool-Aid, need to broaden their historical perspectives and educated themselves better. Dixie should not take the slander and libel thrown at our symbols of Southern liberty lying down. Certainly, our symbols have been misused, misappropriated and maligned to our disadvantage by those of the extreme left and right. But so has the United States flag. The Klan of the 30'3 (begun in the Mid-west and not in the South) marched behind Old Glory down Pennsylvania Avenue, not the Confederate Battle Flag. The South needs to speak out when our honor and our symbols are misrepresented today and when our Veterans and our great grandfather's names and actions are trampled upon. Particularly by outside agitators and seditious organizations that come as wolves in sheep's clothing. Dixie needs to Stand Tall and not grovel to historical revisionism, political correctness or abide an American version of a Maoist Cultural Revolution. Its time to fight!

Saturday, April 20, 2019