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Letter: Graveyard is proper place for statue

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley called them traitors: “They walked away from their oath. They actively waged war on the United States.” These are the people memorialized by “Fame.”

Enslaved “traders” and their trading were accepted by our country — their “entrepreneurial ambition and remorseless violence” and their “unfathomable brutality and enormous power.” “American law allowed it, American government protected it, the American economy demanded it, and American culture suggested only dolts worried about it,” states Joshua Rothman in “The Ledger and The Chain.”

Daily coffles traveled mid-Atlantic and southern roads. Maxwell Chambers, a leading citizen, was a prolific slave trader. Records of the enslaved bodies, originating in Rowan County, were part of the exportation to New Orleans. The “Great Wagon Road,” used by the “Georgia men,” passed through Salisbury. The “public houses,” barns, and cellars (dungeons) were quarters for the enslaved during the tortuous journey south from the Chesapeake and North Carolina. Rowan County was an integral part of this forced migration. Tens of thousands of the enslaved worth millions of dollars moved south.

Local people did not care about human suffering. They observed the conditions inflicted on the enslaved daily. They developed “an inveterate habit of divesting them of all the best interest of humanity, in order to justify our oppression of them.”

The current outcry is the continued circulation of the first big lie, the Lost Cause. “Fame” is not a memorial to all soldiers. As stated, the citizens and soldiers of Rowan County knew exactly what the war was about. Enslaved Blacks were millions of dollars in personal wealth to Rowan County. Enslaved bodies were 27% of the population. Today, many continue dismissing the impact of forced labor on our local economy.

Maintenance of the caste system, and its order drove the need for “Fame.” Poor whites present “a troublesome presence.” Downward mobility was/is the biggest fear of this “other class of white folks.”

A memorial should be with those it memorializes, take the UDC at its word: “Undying devotion to duty and country may never be forgotten 1861-1865.” A graveyard is the proper place.

— Michael Stringer

Cleveland

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