“Accept this monument and may it stand forever as a perpetual memorial to those sons of the University who suffered and sacrificed so much at the call of duty.”
That’s what a representative from the United Daughters of the Confederacy said at Silent Sam’s commencement ceremony more than 100 years ago. The same statement is now relevant again as part of the legal argument, which allowed for last week's backroom Silent Sam deal.
Attorneys for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said in the lawsuit, filed on Nov. 27, that the Daughters had a deal with UNC — the Daughters would give UNC the monument, and in exchange the University would keep it on campus forever.
So when former Chancellor Carol Folt had Silent Sam’s pedestal carried away, possession of the monument reverted back to the Daughters of the Confederacy, the complaint said.
And on Nov. 23, four days before the UNC System announced that the Sons of Confederate Veterans would walk away from their legal fight with both Silent Sam and $2.5 million, a memorandum was signed by the leaders of both the UDC and SCV that transferred the rights to Silent Sam over to the SCV.
The SCV’s lawsuit is grounded in the argument that the organization is the rightful owner of Silent Sam.
“The problem is that the underlying legal story there is completely bogus,” said UNC law professor Eric Muller at Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Campus Safety Commission. “It is directly opposite North Carolina law about conditions on gifts.”
Members of the Campus Safety Commission discussed the settlement at length, raising questions as to why UNC would give Confederate group $2.5 million, especially after a message was leaked from the group’s commander in which he said that at least some of the money will go toward constructing a new headquarters for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Muller said he thinks UNC and the System would have surely won the lawsuit had they not agreed to the pre-negotiated set of conditions.