Cowgirl Poll: What should be done with Helena’s Confederate Fountain?

The murder of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist depicted online holding a Confederate flag has prompted calls to remove or address how the flag and other Confederate symbols are placed and honored.

As more and more states are removing confederate flags and monuments from places of honor on public property, the Helena City Commission will discuss the issue this week.  Two City Commissioners, Katherine Haque-Hauserath and Andres Haladay, pointed out that the monument, which was actually refurbished in 2008, could be rededicated to honor all civil war dead – not just those of the confederacy, or the name could be changed so that it does not honor and support a legacy of racism. Helena citizens have also proposed that the monument be rededicated. 

Intelligent Discontent has proposed that the commissioners make sure that the confederate monument actually tells the history of the Confederacy –that group of states who seceded from the nation in support of human bondage. James Conner at The Flathead Memo has proposed that the fountain be removed and that the city “recycle the granite in the spirit of beating swords into plowshares.”

For one thing, when Confederate troops fired the first shots on Fort Sumter, in Charleston, S.C.’s harbor, Montana wasn’t a state. It wasn’t even its own organized territory.  And historians have pointed out that the fountain was erected as part of a revisionist movement which attempted to rebrand the civil war as about “states  rights” rather than slavery.   The confederate fountain is the only such object in the NW United States.

What do you think, dear readers?  The fountain will be discussed on Wednesday July 8 at 4pm during the Helena City Commission meeting.

Poll Closed – Thanks for voting!

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35 Comments on "Cowgirl Poll: What should be done with Helena’s Confederate Fountain?"

  1. 42% of Montanans qualify as low-income, struggle in their jobs and to feed their families, and this is what you feel is the most important issue in the state. It’s a disgrace the topics we think are important in this state.

    Well, it’s not ‘we,’ just the small, insulated and short-sighted minority that calls this site home.

  2. Grandma Jeannie | July 7, 2015 7:56 AM at 7:56 AM |

    The Helena city commission doesn’t have control over the income of Montanans…they have a defined role and authority over city issues- so…why would we expect them to have an influence on issues they have no say in? Honestly aren’t you from Missoula?

  3. Add a plaque to the fountain saying “21st century Montanans embrace diversity and respect for all.”

  4. End the ‘Lost Cause’ myth and ante-bellum nostalgia which only fostered pain and suffering with Jim Crow and ‘dog whistle’ racism since the Sixties. Honor BOTH sides, as most enlisted soldiers weren’t northern industrialists making war profits or southern farmers who scratched a living but compelled to fight for ‘honor’ to keep the Plantation economy built on human bondage that Great Britain abandoned – without a civil war – thanks to progressives who also knew
    the American Revolution couldn’t be crushed and the monarchy was all but dead.

    • The one thing you can’t dispute: The Confederate flag was flown by traitors to the United States of America who slaughtered more than 110,000 U.S. soldiers.

      They broke from the United States and created their own nation, calling it the Confederate States of America. They issued their own currency, elected their own president and Congress, raised an army and went to war with the United States of America, firing the first shot at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. They did it because their economy was based on slave labor.

      All of these monuments should be renamed if possible. or torn down.

      As far as I am concerned, the first sledge hammer blows should be done by our Black American brothers and sisters who had to endure looking at these carved stone of travesties for years.

  5. I would like to see the accurate history including how the fountain got there. It is quite enlightening.

    • Drunks for Denny | July 7, 2015 8:54 AM at 8:54 AM |

      Ask and ye shall receive:

      Fountain Dedication, Helena Daily Independent, Sept. 6, 1916
      Handsome Fountain Given To Helena With Fitting Ceremony
      Confederate Daughters Present Memorial Structure.
      Large Crowd Hears Talks.
      $2,000 Memorial Placed at Highest Point in Hill Park to Beautify Rest Spot
      Miss Young Makes Speech of Presentation.
      With fitting ceremony, the beautiful fountain recently placed in Hill park was presented to the city of Helena last evening by the Daughters of the Confederacy in Montana. City Attorney Edward Horsky, acting for Mayor R. R. Purcell, who was unavoidably absent, accepted the gift after an address of presentation by Miss Georgia C. Young. The emblem is a splendid contribution to the beautification of the park given to the city some years ago by the later James J. Hill.

      A gathering of a couple of hundred Helenaites joined about the new structure to listen to the evening’s program. Several Confederate veterans were present in places of honor. A short program, with a few necessary formalities, was applauded by the patriotic crowd. When the impressive monument was unveiled a long demonstration followed, giving the fountain a most hearty welcome as one more means of beautifying the city park.

      The Evening’s Program. Judge R. Lee Word presided over the program. Prior to the unveiling ceremony the Helena drum corps gave several selection. Mrs. Will Aiken pulled the cord which released the flag covering the new fountain. The water was turned into the huge bowl by Mrs. F. F. Read. These women with Miss Young, who followed with the presentation speech, are the only charter members now in the city.

      Miss Young, in formally presenting the splendid memorial to the city, told of the history of the gift; how the Confederate Daughters seeing the need of more means of beautifying Hill park, set about on a campaign to secure funds for the work. She explained the motives of the order in planning such a gift, telling how the Confederate Daughters, desirous of making some presentation to their new residence after leaving the south, had decided upon the fountain as a fitting memorial.

      Formally Presented. The speaker lauded the present-day American spirit, a spirit of union with no feeling between the old north and south, which caused such bitterness and sorrow years ago. Both sides are now engaged in building up a better c ountry to live in, making their homes more comfortable, their cities more beautiful. She closed:

      “On behalf of the daughters of the Confederacy, I present this fountain to the city of Helena as a token of our esteem toward our new home.”

      “The city of Helena is pleased and honored to accept this substantial and beautiful donation from the Daughters of the Confederacy. On behalf of the city I accept most heartily this splendid token” Thus spoke Attorney Edward Horsky, in place of Mayor Purcell.

      The city attorney, in accepting the gift, delved into the history of the city and the park, on which the monument was built. He lauded the spirit of the Confederate Daughters in making such a fitting gift. “The efforts of the Daughters of the Confederacy in planning such a gift are worthy of the highest praise,” said Mr. Horsky. “We have several pretty parks, though they lack such fitting and substantial markings as this, it is a beautiful memorial that will long keep bright the memory of the organization that donated it.”

      Of Native Granite. The fountain is carved from native Montana granite. It towers eight feet high and in the top a large electric globe is placed. Four streams of water pour forth into a large bowl which overflows into a basin six feet square. The structure is ornamented with pretty carvings. It was designed by Architect George H. Carsley and erected at a cost of $2,000. It was placed on the highest point in Hill park.

  6. What’s “revisionist” is the attempt to claim that the dirt poor southerners who volunteered to fight and die for the confederacy in their role as rifle humping snuffies did it out of loyalty to the elites who relied on slavery for their economic status. So here is the question, “Why did the common southern soldier fight and die in the Civil War?” The answer is multifaceted and not reducible to a single factor, as CG is attempting to make it out to be, in deciding the fate of the monument and rewriting the history of the confederate soldiers who came to Montana, made a new life, and helped shape what Montana has become. But why let history get in the way of a political rant.

    • Let’s see, the 7/7, 10:30 AM Post:
      (1.) Grossly misrepresents a Post by Cowgirl.
      (2.) Put words into the mouth of Cowgirl, as to how Cowgirl
      would answer a cleverly introduced question.
      (3.) Concludes by cleverly inferring Cowgirl denying truth
      for purpose of making a rant.

      Still sounds to me like standard three ways for a kangaroo court to falsely justify/encourage slander and punishment against a leading voice.

      Thought experiment: Replace the above four Cowgirl words,
      with such as ‘a whistle blower’.

  7. Remove it. There should be no option that honors the Confederate traitors to the United States who started a war and killed real U.S. soldiers and innocent bystanders because they wanted to keep slaves and secede from the United States of America. We should not candy coat our history to make it look like the Confederates were anything but enemies of the United States. The word United is in the name of our nation and these people wanted to divide us. It’s pathetic that the ancestors of the Confederate traitors are trying to do the exact same thing for the exact same reasons. Instead of slavery of African Americans the Conservatives today want to take freedoms from LGBT, the poor and the elderly. Don’t forget that even in Ravalli County these TeaTaliban traitors have even signed a declaration to start a county militia if they do not get their way that would force all to join or be put in a concentration camp. Remove the statue and start removing the people who are threatening to take up arms to start killing people in their threat to overthrow and divide the U.S. again. We are the UNITED STATES of America. We are better than this. We do not honor enemies of the U.S. who killed U.S. citizens and soldiers who fought for our nation and our freedoms.

  8. Lee Grindinger | July 7, 2015 5:42 PM at 5:42 PM |

    Remove it. It’s well past time we stopped celebrating the lives and deaths of treasonous Southerners defending the right to own another human being. The revisionist history that saluted the confederacy should stop now.

  9. I would sincerely like to know. Is it truly the position of Montana Democrats that we replay the end of a war after 150 years such that we can finally punish and erase the history of those who rejected the values of our Republic, One Hundred and Fifty years ago? Does this really make sense? We’re not talking about the flag and symbol of the confederacy. We’re talking about a fountain that most young folk don’t even know the significance behind agitation that it be torn down. Rededicate it, leave it, let people call it what they want. The wound is so old, the only way to reopen it at this point is to cut and hurt, commit torture, for no purpose other than arrogance. It does not stand for slavery like the Stars and Bars. It does not stand for treason. It stands for honoring dead folk who fought a war regardless of what they believed.

    Much of the same reasoning used here could stand as argument for tearing down every Vietnam memorial. Last I checked, we lost that war, physically, spiritually and morally.

  10. It is far past the time to call an end to this outdated and pathetic justification to somehow honor the secession of the Cofederacy as an exalted example of states rights, freedom, honor, whatever. They were slavers and their whole social and economic survival depended on it from top to bottom of the economic spectrum. It is no more complicated than that. Any attempt to perpetuate it in some form of a monument such as this is nothing more than an immoral and unjustifiable effort to continue the racism and bigotry it has since come to represent.

  11. Rancherliberal | July 7, 2015 8:45 PM at 8:45 PM |

    I believe we should be cautious of rewriting history for the sake of political politeness. We should tell the complete story of the Civil War, the shame of slavery, and what were the consequences. There were many Southerners who fled to Montana and other point west. They were all not slave owners. They were victims of war and politics. Without them OUR MONTANA history would be different. Are we going to forget Virginia City? Confederate Gulch? Democrat Gulch? I am proud of my heritage as those from the South were proud of theirs. Naming something “confederate” does not signify support of slavery, but maybe a memory of a place and time that can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten.

    • It is highly unlikely that any Confederate who came to Montana and decided to erect a monument to their cause viewed themselves as a victim, except maybe of the Union. This monuments time has come to an end. There is no reasonable justification to the contrary.

  12. The Civil War was about slavery – It was also about States telling the Federal Government it has no say in the slavery issue – and that only States have a say.

    The fountain in Helena is a memorial for Confederate soldiers – butchered during one of the bloodiest wars in history. In its own right, the fountain is a remarkable slice of history – It is no Confederate Flag.

    Flags are symbols onto which individual human beings project our own ideals, values, and beliefs. The Confederate flag was a repository of one very specific idea:

    States are within their rights to refuse to be held accountable by a collective authority of a “Union of States” regarding some important matters – including the matter of slavery – and the legal status of individual human beings within the borders of each State.

    Sound familiar? States Rights ! Don’t Tread On Me ! Big Government ! These Tea Party ideas are remnants of the Civil War — alive and well in the heads of many US citizens – Cliven Bundy of Nevada; Members of some militias; The Klan; White Supremecists; many others. Our firm message to all of them should be this:
    “The matter was settled at Appomattox.”

    More immediate issues with the Confederate flag: There are people alive today who project their hatred for blacks onto that symbol and encourage others to do the same. Thus the Confederate flag is used to resurrect with malice, the idea that blacks were at the heart of the controversy and the division. If hatred and bigotry and persecution remain a concern of every US Citizen and their Federal Government – then it is right for us now to conclude: The Confederate Flag should no longer be honored for ideals associated with it – The Confederate flag should not be raised.

    The fountain in Helena is no Confederate flag.

  13. Louis N. Klarke | July 8, 2015 5:07 AM at 5:07 AM |

    Move it to the Home School Wing of the Gianforte Dinosaur-Jesus Museum?

  14. What exactly is the difference between the flag as a symbol of the confederacy and other symbols of the confederacy?! The amount of pro-confederacy BS masquerading as pro-history here is disturbing. Montana apparently deserves its reputation as a Great White Mecca. Good riddance to you all.

  15. How would erasing history change this? Black on black hate?
    9 Killed, 53 Wounded In Holiday Weekend Shootings « CBS Chicago
    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/07/06/9-killed-53-wounded-in-holiday-weekend-shootings/

    While we’re at it, let’s get rid of another racist “symbol” of State control. The marriage license. Look up the history of that.

  16. as I said from the git-go, screw the traitors and their defenders, the best move is to keep this fountain in place but erect a billboard explaining the origin of the fountain and re-dedicating it in memory of the millions of slaves who perished during this dark era of American History.

  17. Mary Ann Dunwell | July 8, 2015 6:44 PM at 6:44 PM |

    “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Helena City Commission, tear down this relic of racism.

  18. I say keep it. Since seeing a picture, it’s pretty obvious it would make a fine urinal.

  19. It could be renamed the Helena Confederate Urinal!

  20. thank you John O’brien for your rational contribution.

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