The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday April 13th

Why Silent Sam was built: A historian’s perspective

TO THE EDITOR:

In discussing Silent Sam’s meaning and purpose, UNC should examine the motives of the monument’s creators. At the unveiling on June 2, 1913, Julian Carr’s speech detailed what UNC’s statue memorialized:

“The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war… their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South — when the ‘bottom rail was on top’ all over the Southern states, and today, as a consequence, the purist strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States.”

Carr then proudly recounted his contribution to Reconstruction’s racial violence:

“100 yards from where we stand, less than 90 days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench, until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady.”

This disturbing past is part of our beloved institution’s history. All paths forward carry their own perils. Destroying the monument erases an uncomfortable past, but to ignore its connections to racial ideologies that barred African Americans from UNC until the 1950s is equally problematic. Even new interpretive signs would stir debates on what to include. These debates are healthy. As we near the Civil War’s sesquicentennial discussions over the meaning of our past ensures a more informed public. This I celebrate.

Adam H. Domby

Graduate Student

History

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