Madison council rewrites history

Descendants of Confederate Rest dead would have a strong legal claim to contest removal of grave marker they paid for
and was accepted by the City of Madison

Forest Hill Cemetery is a National Historical site. Landmark Commission chairman Stuart Levitan acknowledged that “five of the nine Secretary [of U.S. Department of the Interior] standards would be violated by removing the marker. Our ordinance … incorporates those federal standards. Does the Secretary of the Interior have jurisdiction? I don’t know the answer.” City attorney May countered the only appeal would be to circuit court.

We have no doubt that the United Daughters of the Confederacy whitewashed the horrors of slavery almost up to the present day. 

When Rhett Butler returns from his midnight ride without Scarlet O’Hara’s unfortunate husband, killed by occupying Union soldiers, it is unspoken that they had been on a midnight Klan ride.

It is also possible that the aging Union veterans who shed blood to end slavery and who dedicated the gravestone at Madison’s Confederate Rest back in 1906 were ignorant — or perhaps indifferent if they did know — of the lynchings and systematic apartheid oppressing the South in those terrible days. Some of the best and brightest of the liberal-progressive movement, people like Woodrow Wilson, Margaret Sanger, and UW president Charles Van Hise, were overtly racist. (Unlike Porter Butts and Fredric March.)

They subscribed to or helped perpetuate the false narrative of the contented slave, the wise mammy, and the benevolent aristocrat in the big house up the hill.

WSJ at Confederates Rest

Madison WI: 140 names and “Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of the Confederacy to Alice Whiting Waterman and ‘her boys'” The big stone preceded the individual markers

Whatever the sins of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the grave marker at the quiet corner of Forest Hill Cemetery rewrites no history, whitewashes no evil, justifies no lost cause. It depicts no triumphant general astride a noble horse, extols no “unsung hero,” claims no “valor.”

But Madison cannot miss out on signaling its virtue, not after the Charlottesville riot. So Mayor Soglin searched the city for some relic and settled on this modest grave marker. No surprise that the Common Council voted 16-2 (Skidmore and Verveer.) Tuesday night (10-02-18) to put the stone on a flatbed truck and haul it away where it can no longer incite racial hatred that, heretofore, went undetected. 

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Anyone see the difference?

At a previous meeting, Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney wondered why no stones marking slave graves in Madison. Might it be because Madison had no slaves? The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 specifically prohibited slavery in these parts. What slaves touched ground in Wisconsin did so on their way through the Underground Railroad to freedom.

Ald. Matt Phair has contended that the Madison woman who maintained the formerly neglected burial plot was a member of the Confederate Daughters. Alice Waterman died in 1897, three years after the founding of the UDC.

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Landmarks Commission chairman Stu Levitan did his best to represent his panel’s vote to keep the gravestone where it was, that it satisfied most of the conditions for an historic landmark. But he encouraged the alders to challenge that finding, and so they did.

One citizen last night regretted that black soldiers were prevented from attending that June dedication conducted by the Grand Army of the Republic. The speaker present no evidence for his claim or that Wisconsin fielded black soldiers.

Ald. Allen Arnsten, who moved reconsideration of the Landmarks Commission ruling to keep the grave marker, argued Tuesday night: “This is not inclusive. This is not welcoming.”

“Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of Confederacy
to Alice Whiting Waterman and ‘her boys'” 

“The propaganda of racists.” — Alder Arvina Martin (10-02-18)
“A symbol of white supremacy.” — Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff

No one is bitching that the plaque extolling “unsung heroes” was removed. No one seems certain how it was placed there to begin with. It is possible that the Wisconsin Historic Society may also weigh in.

It would seem that some descendant of the 140 Confederate POWs buried at Forest Hill Cemetery would have legal grounds to bring lawsuit against the city. Such a claimant could plausibly claim that an ancestor dropped a dollar in the basket toward erecting the first permanent marker for their departed relative. Because the stone, plinth, monument, cenotaph predated the individual gravestones erected three years later. Because they replaced easily worn, wooden boards. 

Blaska’s Bottom Line: By what right does the City remove any grave marker once accepted for placement, as this stone was all these 112 years ago? Could they decide that Mr. Van Hise — like Messieurs Butts and March — no longer meets the city’s terribly “woke” standards? 

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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24 Responses to Madison council rewrites history

  1. Reggie says:

    This is not a statue in the townsqaure honoring a Confederate general. This is in a cemetery to remember POWs. And I would bet that some of them fought because they were conscripted and didn’t want to be executed for desertion.

    Seema ridiculous to remove it.


  2. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    Charles Van Hise and his partners (in a hateful, classist/elitist/raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacist movement [Eugenics] that encompassed a societal spectrum FAR greater-n-wider than just Blacks) Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, & Edward A. Ross (who started a lovely Eugenics Club at U.W.) blazed trail, cut brush, & busted the sod for a Brave New World.

    A world that would look incuriously just like them; past White. Groundbreaking Proglibocrats to a one, all but perhaps Ross would be chiseled into a U.W. Mt. Rushmore.

    Let’s take a look see at the vision they had for society, (or as Margaret “Human Weeds” Sanger slobbered, A Race Of Thoroughbreds with, oddly enough, no Black Stallions, Roan fillies, or Chestnut mares) and how it would be…um…perfected.

    Ah Lefty; so MUCH hypocrisy, so little time!

    The Gotch

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leo says:

    Next up for our erstwhile Madison city council – debating and passing a resolution in support of the
    Colorado Rockies in their playoff battle with the MIlwaukee Brewers. But not until they voice their
    eternal appreciation for the British military that tried so hard to keep us a part of the British empire.


  4. Bill Everley says:

    Stupid move. Period. Do individual taxpayers have standing to enjoin the city from removing the gravestone?


  5. Marge Bils says:

    This is so ridiculous. My suggestion is write the alders. I did that today. I am so tired of if city council people thinking for me while they ignore the real issues that are impacting our city. Most people didn’t even know about this Memorial until this witch hunt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wadwizard says:

    Dave, I strongly disagree with your recital of the relevant history, and with any inference that Southern troops fought for slavery. They fought because their homes were invaded, and were doing their duty as they understood it. They were indeed brave and valiant. Regardless, that is in the past. Our ancestors long ago saw fit to bury these young men here and to erect the centograph for their memory. I wager that most of those who want to live history backwards and moralize against teh monument and the dead soldiers have no ancestors who fought on either side in the CW, and thus have no skin in the game. It dishonors both the “destroyers”, and indeed all of Madison in 2018, to insult the long-dead. A pox upon them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    CommonSenseLessCouncil Vice President Sheri Carter:

    You don’t have discussion in a cemetery. You have reflection, and you have memories, and this (monument) brings up memories that are not so pleasant in our history


    There weren’t discussions in that cemetery until you’s monumentally craven “WE Know What’s Best For You’s effin’ busybodies decided to follow what the spirit of the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality holds steadfast:

    Whatever has VISIBLE (if epically imbecilic) benefits at HIDDEN (if Karmically ignorant) costs will draw their craven attention like flies to…welp…you’s get the picture.

    The absolutely stunning waste of time-n-resources to ponder such a thing; a thing which, truth be told, neither required attention nor drew pondering until…um…shall we say recently?

    Whadda they care, it ain’t their money. It gooses Lefty’s sagging morale, and theirs; that’s all they need to know.

    The Gotch

    Liked by 1 person

    • richard lesiak says:

      Settle down. It’s National Taco Day!!!!! They even cater to you old guys with those soft shells. Enjoy.


      • Cornelius Gotchberg says:

        @richard lesiak;

        “It’s National Taco Day!!!!!”

        ¡Dios mio!


        No podemos, no es posible; it’s Culinary Cultural Appropriation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        ¡Weenie Whine Más!

        The Gotch


  8. wadwizard says:

    By the way, these Southern soldiers did not come to Madison voluntarily. The were captured in the South, brought here and died here in Madison, as prisoners.


  9. Batman says:

    “The absolutely stunning waste of time-n-resources to ponder such a thing; a thing which, truth be told, neither required attention nor drew pondering until…um…shall we say recently?”

    On a practical level that is what’s so disgusting about all of this Gotch, while Madison homes/streets/businesses continue to flood.

    Madison is becoming so cliché…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gary L. Kriewald says:

      Yes, it was indeed a “stunning waste of time and resources” but that’s a small price to pay for the real goal here: allowing Madison alders yet another excuse to stick their snoots a little higher in the air (assuming that’s humanly possible) while basking in the glow of their self-awarded virtue.


  10. Tom Paine says:

    Deeply resent the idea of moving the marker(s). There is no justification. Those who died and those who participated in the establishment of the markers are not present now to present their points of view (and they may not be uniform as most assume). I fear the precedent that moving graves/grave markets sets. Wisconsin doesn’t even move “Indian” graves, many of whom may have been as blood-thirsty and disgusting in their practice of cannibalism as slave masters for owning slaves. Read the history of Etienne Brule about the brutality of Indians. As recently as 2014, a local judge prevented the moving of Indian graves —> I have no idea whether these humans were cannibals like those who Brule describe. So, regardless the “humanity” or lack-thereof, that the Confederate Soldiers represent, the markers and graves should not be touched.

    If moving markers or graves creates a precedent, then why might I assume that the graves and markers of my grandparents will not be relegated to ash heap of political correctness at some future moment because a group demonizes Spanish American War Veterans, among whom my grandfather was one? Or consider WWI veterans………the case for US imperialism transcends many wars. Should those markers be moved at some later date because of the imperialistic imperative US soldiers who supported Woodrow Wilson? Or consider WWII. FDR’s record, including his superficial effort to assist Jews who were fleeing Hitler, is not an honorable memory.

    Finally, Lord Blaska seems sufficiently unaware of the serious scholarship about slavery and the antebellum South that would not confirm his Disneyworld assumptions about the nature of slavery. The scholarship of the recently passed, and well-known Marxist couple of Eugene and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese does not support Blaska’s assumptions. It was their considered opinion(s) that in the main, slaves had a better standard of living under paternal capitalism of the antebellum South than did contemporaneous factory workers in New England and Europe. My reading of their many works (strongly recommend Mind of the Master Class) suggests that if moral outrage at Southern Planters is justified, there certainly is case to consider New England capitalists and Lincoln himself, as equally brutal historical figures. That is, of course, a separate debate, but there is more than sufficient reason NOT TO MOVE the markers or the graves.


    • David Blaska says:

      You lost me with the last paragraph. Fact is that slavery could not have existed without the whip and the chain. New England factory workers were not raped, families split apart or sold down the river. Nor were they whipped, chained, gelded, and hung at the whim of their “owners.” To say otherwise (as you do) is, indeed, Disneyland. (“Song of the South.”)


      • Tom Paine says:

        Read the book….Mind of the Master Class. Read contemporaneous original documents; read about examples of many slaves who were devoted to their white masters, even as the Union troops attacked and offered “freedom.” Many slaves resented and fought against the terrorism of General Sherman. Many slaves were not controlled by the whip, etc. In fact, many even had guns for hunting, though there were anxieties after Vesey and Turner. Read 5-10 books on the subject and then return to the discussion.

        Additionally, suggest you read about the intellectual life of the South……works of the late Michael O’Brien. I tried to alert you about primary documents and stories when you were in Charleston, but you were not interested. Whatever.

        Oh, and this is not a personal ego jousting match with you. I do not give a shit. The question will remain …whether you deal with it or not, “What was the set of relationships between masters and slaves in various regions of the antebellum South? ” There is no one, single “northern answer.”


  11. Bill Everley says:

    How many African Americans walk by the Confederate Rest (and therefore become “offended”)? How many Madisonians even KNOW about the Confederate Rest???

    Liked by 1 person

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