I would venture a wild guess that two days ago you could not find five people in Hamilton County that even knew there was a statue on the Hamilton County Courthouse grounds. And if you found someone that was aware of the statue, they couldn't identify who was being honored or why.
Now it has suddenly become a "cause celebre" for the "politically correct" and those that want to forget history. But they still don't know anything about Alexander P. Stewart.
From Wikipedia: Alexander P. Stewart was born in Rogersville, Tn. He graduated 12th in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1845 he resigned from the Army and became a professor of Mathematics at Cumberland University and later the University of Nashville. He was a strong anti-secessionist (look it up). Still he supported the state of Tennessee and was willing to serve in the Tennessee Militia and in the course of events Confederate Army.
Following the war he became an Insurance executive in Missouri and in 1890 to 1908 he was the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. He also served as Commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
He was an honorable man. If you can't respect his military service to Tennessee, at least recognize his full life and accomplishments. He certainly does not represent an evil time in American history.
* * *
The Taliban has come to Hamilton County.
Not unlike the Taliban destroying the Bamiyan Valley Buddha’s or ISIS destroying the great ruins of old Palmyra, our own version has come to remove history they don’t agree with from the public view.
It seems the bust of the native Tennessean Alexander P. Stewart is an affront to “equality” or something.
Lt. General Stewart did in fact serve in the Confederate Army of Tennessee but, throughout his life he was a vocal anti-secessionist who was also a lieutenant in the United States army, a mathematics professor, business man and ardent supporter of the creation of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Military Park.
I fail to see how removing his bust from the old courthouse yard is going to improve anything in Chattanooga but will, in its own way, do more to damage the community by attempting to erase the very history of Chattanooga and proving, once again, that a very vocal but small minority of people, can override the will of the majority.
The Civil War in the United States happened, and no amount of “Taliban” tactics, petitions, demonstrations or activism can erase that fact.
The men who fought for the Confederacy, as wrong as their cause seems to us nearly 160 years later, fought and died for their loved ones, homes and communities, and, in the end, each other just like fighting men have done for as long as there has been human conflict.
They were American soldiers deserving of their memorials and honors as much as any others.
I would suggest a visit to Point Park for a tour of the New York peace monument to see what “reconciliation” and “equality” really looks like.
You would see that after four years of terrible conflict, the men who actually spilled their blood, came together and became Americans again.
Removing General Stewart's memorial is as much an affront to me as it seems it staying is for our local “activists” but I would dare say will be for many more like minded people like me, who understand that you can’t change history but can only try to learn from it and not repeat it.
Unfortunately, we seem to be much closer to 1860 now than at any time since then and I feel that is because we have forgotten the lessons learned during that terrible time.
Chattanooga and Hamilton county should reject this effort quickly and forcefully and prove to the rest of our nation that we are not afraid or embarrassed of our history but are determined to remember and learn from it, warts and all.
John T. Sanders
* * *
Where is Dalton Roberts when we need him. Reading this morning about the efforts to remove the statue of A.P. Stewart from the lawn of the Hamilton County Courthouse, I couldn't help but remember my old friend and sometimes political adversary who spent many years in that stately building and wrote a song with his usual wit and folksy humor about sometimes going out and sharing his frustrations with "Old AP". If I knew where they laid Dalton to rest I would go see whether the ground was still restraining his earthly remains. Knowing his nature, this is unquestionably the sort of issue that just might make him rise up. Perhaps the local debate is now beginning and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It might be an opportunity to learn something about a little known Confederate general who opposed owning slaves and changed his religious affiliation late in life reportedly because he didn't believe in hell. Most of what I know about "Old AP" was gleaned from Dalton's song. So, lets have the discussion and attempt to clear the air. Move the statue if we must. And considering Stewart's pivotal role in creation of Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park as a means of healing and reunifying the great rift that almost destroyed the United States, I'm certain that a more prominent location for his statue can be found somewhere on that great battlefield. In the mean time, I will just keep waiting and watching for Dalton sightings.
* * *
There have been many variations of this over time, but you know the old saying... those who don't know history are destined to repeat it. It seems to me like the very people that want these statues removed would be against repeating that time in history.
* * *
Moving the statue (which technically is a 'bust') of A.P. Stewart to Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Park would be a win/win for both the local NAACP and those promoting the historical context of Mr Stewart's service to the State of Tennessee.
The statue would be in a far more visible location in Chickamauga. From 2001 to 2011, visitation to the park increased 38.2% to a conservative estimate of over 1,100,000 visitors in 2011. How many of you who are typing in all caps online in comment threads know where the statue is located on the courthouse lawn? Did you know it's near to an entrance that's closed and for security reasons?
A.P. Stewart was heavily involved in the creation of Chickamauga National Battlefield. To have him relocated to the National Battlefield would be a testimate to his service on behalf of the park.
* * *
As a historical preservationist, I was very pleased by Roy Exum's column on the A. P. Stewart statue.
Also noted, were responses saying that the statue should be moved to Chickamauga-Chattanooga NMP. Those who suggest this are obviously unfamiliar with the history and formation of Chickamauga NMP.
Unlike Gettysburg, which was fought in mostly open fields, Chickamauga was a battle in the woods, dominated by the choices of small unit commanders and individual soldiers. Because of the nature of this battle, Chickamauga was considered a "soldier's battle", not a general's battle. Thus, unlike Gettysburg, where large statues of Lee, Meade, and other generals dominate the landscape, a conscious decision was made by the veteran founders of Chickamauga not to have statues of individual generals. They wanted to visitor to the Park to see this was a battle largely decided and fought by the men in the ranks, not the Generals. Thus, there are no Rosecrans, Thomas, Bragg, Longstreet statues at Chickamauga-Chattanooga NMP.
So any suggestions that A.P. Stewart bust be moved to Chickamauga NMP, while probably well intentioned, are horribly misguided and would fly in the face of the intent of the veteran founders of the Park.
"Old Straight" is just fine where he currently sits.
Anthony Hodges, DDS
* * *
Having lived downtown the first 25 years of my life, I walked passed the courthouse hundreds of times. As a lifelong student of history and the Civil War, I saw the statue (or bust) of General Stewart and took time to learn who he was and what he did.
Statues and monuments are dedicated to history and the continued remembrance of historical events and people. Anyone who has studied history should know that many statues are villains to some, heroes to others. Although Stewart was a Confederate and my family, all Tennesseans, were Union, I understand he is a historic figure.
Destruction of these statues and monuments, as some would desire, is known as revisionism. When the Bolsheviks took over in Russia, they destroyed statues of the Tsars and then almost a century later, the leaders' statues who evolved from the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviets, were toppled. Michelangelo fashioned a statute of Pope Julius II, a violent man who personally led soldiers into battle against those who challenged his authority and was responsible for many deaths. This great art treasure was destroyed by people who hated him. But to some Julius II is known as the one who initiated the modern version of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
And most recently we have seen video of the Taliban and ISIS destroying centuries old religious statues.
After reading the posts as well as news stories about other monuments with a Confederate theme, I agree with Mayor Littlefield and Justin Strickland that the Chickamauga, Georgia location, specifically the battlefield, which is a history museum of sorts would be an excellent location for the bust. And with all the attention this would receive, it would likely be visited more than ever before.
In its place I would strongly recommend a statue to the five servicemen who were viciously murdered by an Islamic radical terrorist on Chattanooga soil. These men were sacrificed for what they believed in, the United States. And as nation united we should be mature enough to respect differences in opinions without becoming divided again.
The Civil War is over and we have historic reservations to remember the history of our area. General Stewart would be in the perfect place to be remembered for his part in history, Chickamauga battlefield. And on the courthouse lawn for many years to come the Fallen Five could be honored and remembered by the people of Chattanooga for the sacrifice these men made for our freedom.
I hope our county government will consider my recommendation and work with the Interior Department to make it happen.