Mayor Smith Speaks Out Against Educational Signage at Helena’s Confederate Fountain

On the eve of the Helena City Commission’s consideration of a modest proposal to add some additional educational signage at Helena’s Confederate Fountain, Mayor Jim Smith sent out an epistle to fellow commissioners outlining his arguments in opposition to the idea.

Two Helena city commissioners, Katherine Haque-Hausrath and Andres Haladay, have proposed to leave Helena’s Confederate Fountain completely untouched, unchanged, and unmoved.  The are proposing only:

renaming it the “Civil War Memorial” fountain on our city website, etc, and a sign (as [the Montana Historical Society] suggest[s]) with the new name at the fountain explaining the history, including the fact that the Daughters of the Confederacy donated the fountain as part of its national campaign.

Yet Mayor Smith misrepresents their idea, claiming they have proposed “obliterating history.”

Despite the mayor’s struggles with supporting Helena’s non-discrimination ordinance and flubbing an endorsement of medicaid expansion, Mayor Smith has many good qualities, so I’ll admit I was surprised at the similarities in the mayor’s justification and that of right wingers in South Carolina fighting to keep the confederate flag.

Here’s Mayor Smith:

 “That is what totalitarian regimes do… It’s going on today in the Middle East and Central Asia, as all traces of Bhuddist and Hindu culture are being destroyed.

Once this begins—with a Fountain in Hill Park—where will it lead and where will it end?  We have Jefferson School right here in Helena.  Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner.  We have three streets named after George Washington in Helena.  I’ve been to Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon and seen the slave quarters there.  Jackson Street? Another slave owner.  Madison Street?  Monroe Street? How about Confederate Gulch on Canyon Ferry Lake?”

As Vanity Fair reported this week in the article, “A Vocal Minority Is Still Fighting to Keep the Confederate Flag Flying in S.C.“,  right winger’s robo-calls in support of the flag contained strikingly similar “reasoning”:

“Just like ISIS, [President] Obama’s haters want our monuments down, graves dug up, and school [sic], roads, towns, and counties renamed. They’ve even taken Dukes of Hazzard off TV…What’s next?”

By the way, South Carolina Senators supporting the flag’s removal dismissed the above message as “’emotionally overwrought’ and deliberately provocative.”

I hope that’s not where Mayor Smith is coming from or why his letter sets up a straw man argument that does not resemble what Commissioners Haque-Hausrath and Haladay are actually proposing. (His letter is here.)

Misapprehension about the proposal indeed appears to be the primary tactic to defeat the idea, as you can see from this exchange between Commissioner Haque-Hausrath and the Historical Society.  Commissioner Haque-Hausrath writes:

I would like to clarify something that I believe may be the main source of opposition to Commissioner Haladay’s and my proposal.  We have never proposed to file down the inscription or otherwise touch the fountain.  We recognize the aesthetic and historic value of the fountain. Instead, our proposal would just involve renaming it the “Civil War Memorial” fountain on our city website, etc, and a sign (as you [the Historical Society] suggest) with the new name at the fountain explaining the history, including the fact that the Daughters of the Confederacy donated the fountain as part of its national campaign.  As you noted in your letter, the fountain as it currently exists does not have the full historical context.  I know that constituents and visitors to Helena have expressed concern to me about Helena having a Confederate memorial.  Confederate symbols are being widely acknowledged to stand for racism and white supremacy.  The fact that we have a Confederate memorial, combined with Montana’s unfortunate history of white supremacist groups, gives the inaccurate perception that our city is not open and welcoming.

We think our proposal will maintain the historical integrity of the fountain, honor all of the Civil War dead, while not having the government support a publicly-owned Confederate symbol.  As is being discussed across the country, we do not believe an explicitly Confederate memorial and its attendant support for slavery and more recent symbol for white supremacy and exclusion of minorities, is appropriate for our city.

(Note that we had originally proposed a renaming contest by the Parks Board, but the Mayor opposes this idea, so we suggest a simple renaming by the Commission.)

A Cowgirl online poll shows strong support for the name change. If you haven’t voted, you can do so here.  And of course, be sure to contact the Helena City Commission via email at

As a final note to any pro-confederate readers here:

Nobody is saying you can’t honor the confederate cause on your own personal property all you like.  I personally won’t be doing so, but if you do, consider putting your confederate shrine in your front yard.   It probably doesn’t hurt to give your neighbors a clear indicator of your ignorance displayed prominently, so that there is no confusion.  It’s just long past time the government stopped doing so.


65 Comments on "Mayor Smith Speaks Out Against Educational Signage at Helena’s Confederate Fountain"

  1. Paul S. Meyers | July 7, 2015 9:33 PM at 9:33 PM |

    WHOA! Just read Jim Smith’s letter……So we have an incredibly white middle-aged dude in an incredibly white rural county in an incredibly white state fighting for a Confederate Fountain because he thinks he’s Abe Lincoln. YIKES

  2. There is no shortage of Teflon coated maneuvering in this painful exercise. Everyone- “Everyone” – is trying to smooth over, whitewash, or otherwise sweep under the carpet the underlying truth. This monument is not some noble representation of a era gone by. It is a memorial to a failed slaver aristocracy and those who foolishly, not heroically, supported it with their life and blood. To suggest otherwise, glorify it, rename, or reinterpret it in any way as something different is a gross and unforgivable slap in the face to those who suffered under the direct cruelty of the system it represents and to those who continue to be subjected to the racism it stands for today.

    At least the mayor and those of his misguided ilk are being honest to their bigoted point of view. Despite the depth of their twisted exercises is some distorted exercise of logic to justify their reasoning, they are true to their colors. There is no convincing them otherwise and to attempt to do otherwise is probably a waste of time.

    But to those who wish to somehow turn this embarrassment into something else, that is an even greater waste of time. You can rename or recast it all you want, but in the long run you will find yourselves on the wrong side of history. Now is the time to take a stand that means something, not an attempt to keep everyone happy. Cut this thing up and throw it on a dung heap where it belongs.

  3. Your words are no better, and as stinging as any racist comment made. Give the Mayor the benefit of being in a leadership position, and having to weigh a national debate in a local forum.

    Step away from the current, emotional dialogue and read some history by Shelby Foote and realize what a time and struggle the 1800s were. We kept it together after that conflict because both sides realized the value of each other’s spirit and passion. No doubt, slavery is and was wrong. The debate, and struggle is deeper than that issue. It is the, I think the very reason we survived to this day.
    Best regards from Billings

    Mark T Kennedy

    • That we are once again having a national debate on the legacy of the Civil War and its enduring influence on racism and bigotry is probably of some benefit. That we are still having it after a 150 plus years is testimate to the enduring nature of those two human weaknesses. Like the monument, this is a discussion who’s time needs to be put to rest.

      That the likes of the Mayor of Helena are worthy of being held up as an example of some form of leadership in this debate is another matter. Montana has suffered, and obviously continues to suffer a great number of embarrassments when it comes to our so called leaders expressing their views on the national stage. We can only hope his views, and those who share them, don’t percolate to the top of national attention in this matter. It is his position, despite the man and his title, that rightfully need to be criticized. That is the way is, or at least, the way it should be

    • It is interesting that you mention reading about the Civil War by Shelby Foote. A cursory search of the internet (Shelby Foote Southern Sympathizer) reveals that Foote is likely a Southern sympathizer. Thus his books had to understood with that in mind.
      What he may have done in his books, is the same as what the Daughters of the Confederacy are trying to do, rewrite the reasons for the Civil War.

  4. Montana has been painted as a state full of white supremacists, in part because these types keep moving here. This fountain functions as a kind of homing device for these monsters. It’s time for it to go.

  5. “The fact that we have a Confederate memorial, combined with Montana’s unfortunate history of white supremacist groups, gives the inaccurate perception that our city is not open and welcoming.”

    I’ve lived in Helena for eleven years and have always found it open and welcoming. I’ve never encountered anyone who felt otherwise, and have never met a soul anywhere who would judge a people on the basis of a park fountain. I expect that I never will.

    The memorial honors the Confederate soldiers who died in a crazy and terrible war long ago, men who for the most part were young, brave, and didn’t want to die. The Daughters of the Confederacy did not honor them because the Daughters were betrothed to a vile cabal of deceit. They honored them because the Daughters came from and lived in a culture that honored those who fought and died in war. If they didn’t also honor the Union soldiers it almost certainly wasn’t because they didn’t respect the valor of the Union men, or thought Union men to be hateful and malodorous. More likely they felt that it wasn’t their place to do so.

    One hundred years ago, when war veterans from both the Union and the Confederacy still walked the streets of Helena and drank in her saloons, the fountain was placed in Hill Park, apparently without protest from abolitionists or the scarred veterans from the North. What is the source of hysteria today? From whence the outrage?

    Show respect for the dead. Leave the fountain alone. If you must speak your piece, place your own monument in the park, with your own message. Build it ten times as large as the Confederate fountain, a hundred times more impressive. Let it speak to the ages. The fallen soldiers will smile at your audacity.

    • Who pays for that? Who pays for the current talk of a new memorial, a new fountain, a re-dedication?

      What’s the bill for all that, or like most things that the well-off get excited about, is money not important?

  6. Drunks for Denny | July 8, 2015 9:10 AM at 9:10 AM |

    Mayor Smith is 100% correct. You liberals are no different than the Taliban, blowing up the Buddha monuments.

    • EugeneInSanDiego | July 21, 2015 5:24 PM at 5:24 PM |

      So you wouldn’t oppose a monument to Satan, or Adolf say, as long as they were in a historical context?


      • False equivalence of the worst sort. Seriously, dude? Satan and Hitler are all you have when referring to an American Civil War? Seriously?

        And, just so that I don’t need to respond to you below, your city has a civil war re-enactment every year, and confederate memorials all over the place. Look to your own eye before mocking Montana. Or, are you as I suspect, just a Republicant shill trolling the site … Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. Drunks for Denny | July 8, 2015 9:13 AM at 9:13 AM |

    And it is very disingenuous to label us who disagree with your views on this issue as “Pro-confederate”. We prefer the term “Pro-history”. That makes you “Anti-history”. Sort of like the abortion debate – feel any better?

  8. Here I thought Dems were all for the 1st Amendment symbolic speech, such as burning the American flag, but when it comes to a monument, that is erroneously characterized as a tribute to slavery, the knee jerk response is to tear it down. No surprise there.

    In keeping with the attack on the 1st Amendment, where do Montana Dems and gov Bullock stand on the gag order situation in the land of Portlandia? Do you support Bullock making an executive decision to do the same thing here and preempt politically unpopular symbols of speech like signage and monuments?

    • You really can’t help but think how far the Montana Democrats will be set back by this, and this site’s continual insistence upon pushing useless issues at the expense of issues that could actually have a positive affect for the majority of Montanans. Sadly, Democrats are letting the GOP run with that. The GOP is the one talking about jobs, it’s the Democrats that keep talking about fountains, flags, traps, and anything else that might offend a small, but vocal, minority.

      It’s clear to me that the 2017 Legislature is gone to Democrats, what with their main mouthpiece foaming at the mouth over issues that, by their own admission, just 468 people care about (the number that voted on the poll).

      Wow, clearly this site is focusing on the issues that matter! It’s pretty easy to tell why this site and other Democratic mouthpieces were scared to death of Gianforte’s 30-city tour, and why they browbeat the heck out of him for it.

      With this fountain nonsense, however, the GOP has really been given an upper hand. It’s a classic example of giving the person more rope so they can hang themselves. That’s what Democrats are doing right now – hanging themselves. The sheer amount of effort that could have been directed toward issues that would actually get people to vote for the Democrats in 2016. Instead we talk about this.

      What a sad, sad day for everyone that actually wants to see this state move forward, see people get good jobs, and see young natives move back.

      • This is such a classically bad argument. A person can chew gum and walk at the same time. In the same way, a person can advocate for correcting history and improving the lives of working and poor Montanans. I don’t think this blog–or any other outlet–has some kind of obligation to write about what you want. In fact, couldn’t one, using your logic, argue that you’ve set back the cause of “real issues” by posting on this?

        I’d also suggest you rethink the contention that issue doesn’t matter because it only affects a minority of people. That’s an awfully privileged position to take, and one that seems at odds with Democratic principles, which are committed to protecting the minority from the majority.

        • I am understandably curious how destroying an over-grown birdbath protects anyone from anyone else?

          • I’m not suggesting we destroy the fountain, as I’ve probably written about at too much length at my own site. That being said, I think asking a government not to give tacit endorsement to a group that advocated and advocates hate might just be a way to protect the minority from oppression.

    • There is no gag order in that case, Craig. It’s a lie to say that there is.

      • Since links no longer display a different color, please be aware that my last sentence in that comment above is a link.

      • To quote from the ruling, “The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published… any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations… will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation.”

        If not a gag order, what do you call it when speech is preempted?

        • Their speech isn’t being preempted. They have been directed to comply with an order as required by law that they not advertise their willingness to discriminate. They can talk, write, howl and wail about how unfair they’ve been treated all they wish. They simply simply can’t put signs on their door that says “No fags served”. That’s not a gag order. It’s a judgment that says “follow the law”.

  9. I thought it was a urinal.

    • We should just start using it as a urinal. Then the city would probably have to remove it as a public health hazard.

      • That’s one of the weaknesses of progressives/democrats. We actually think we can out-piss Republicant voting conservative rednecks. No we can’t.

  10. I’m going out on a limb here and suggest that most of the commenters here had a public education. Couple that with the fact that most of the commenters here seem comfortable with the idea that they know the *really truly real* history of the Civil War, I’m finding it difficult to see any threat presented by a fountain, save that people might not agree with any one individual’s valuation of it’s import. If all that is correct, and yes it’s an ‘if’, then doesn’t it present that demanding others to see an object in the same way is a weak attempt at thought control? That’s what re-writing history is all about. It’s propaganda for the ‘winning side’, to erase an acknowledgment of a costly conflict.

    As I pointed out in a comment to a post below, President Abraham Lincoln repatriated the southern states, and their citizens. He effectively pardoned the ‘traitors’. An attempt at this point to re-enflame a long gone grudge disparages Lincoln’s wisdom on the matter. The Confederates are and remain United States citizens. We fought a bloody war to prove it. And since we all know so much about the Civil War, we ought to know that, yes, South Carolina fired the first shots, because the Union wouldn’t give up holdings in their state. Many like to call that “provocation”. What doesn’t seem lost on any of us is that the South was defending it’s right to own humans as chattel. Slavery is banned, and a wading pool in Montana doesn’t defend it’s practice. So what is the point of tearing down a fountain dedicated to Americans if it doesn’t teach anybody anything they didn’t already know?

    • I think you’re wrong about this. The propaganda was the original placement of the monument, which was done precisely to erase the history of the Confederacy and replace it with a sanitized, “lost cause” noble version. That the good people of Helena placed the fountain here in 1916 is hardly a reason to allowing it to remain, without clarification or explanation, today.

      On a related point, how do you feel about the decision by the MT Legislature in 1999 to replace the word “squaw” on geographic locations? Or the decision to remove “Halfbreed” in 2015? Were those merely “weak attempt[s] at thought control”?

      • In truth, I guess my view comes from not being convinced that anyone was attempting to whitewash the Confederacy. If it was, it clearly failed in that attempt as we all seem to know what the Confederate States of America were fighting for. In this online poll here, I did vote for re-dedication, because that at least acknowledges what the country suffered so many years ago.

        What I am reacting to are those who wish to open long closed wounds and punish the racist South by putting up placards calling them “traitors” and denouncing them as lesser Americans for bad behavior well after the war was over. ‘We are not racists’ we say, while many attempt to paint blame at an entire region which, yes, did nobly fight for the freedoms that they believed they were promised when a new nation was formed. Essentially, calls for eradication of any monument to those Americans is a call for correct thinking in order to be “American”. If you will excuse a phrase not so punny, I really don’t cotton to that. Confederate sympathizers were every bit as much a part of the formation of Montana as Jesuits, the Irish, Mormons, criminals, outlaws and all others who just wanted a bit of space between themselves and the past, and maybe a pocket full of gold.

        Let’s at least be clear. A fountain is not a banner, a flag that one stands under to promote an identity or ideal. It isn’t a name offensive to those still living who claim an identity demeaned by that word. It’s a bunch of rock with pipes and pretty water. Dedicate it to Martin Luther King, or Frederick Douglass, neither of whom had thing one to do with the history of Montana. My opinion, but I don’t really care. It won’t erase who paid to build that fountain or why. It certainly won’t erase my memory of study concerning the civil war or the building of Montana. But tearing it down, root and rock, as a petulant statement that we are right thinking people? Really? No. That I don’t cotton to.

        For the record, I’m glad that Montana has chosen non-offensive names for ‘things’. I have long been a supporter for Snyder to pull his head out of his butt and rename his NFL team. But please note that the latter won’t change the script on the busts of George Allen or Sammy Baugh which reside in Canton, Ohio. One cannot erase history, one can only know it for what it is.

        • We don’t know what the Confederacy was fighting for, at least not as a nation. The Daughters of the Confederacy, according to the research I’ve read in the past week, were remarkably successful in recasting the Confederacy.

          From the SLPC:
          My informal polls show that 55 to 75 percent of teachers—regardless of region or race—cite states’ rights as the key reason southern states seceded. These conclusions are backed up by a 2011 Pew Research Center poll, which found that a wide plurality of Americans—48 percent— believe that states’ rights was the main cause of the Civil War. Fewer, 38 percent, attributed the war to slavery, while 9 percent said it was a mixture of both.

          These results are alarming because they are essentially wrong. States’ rights was not the main cause of the Civil War—slavery was.

          Look at Texas right now:

          Let’s not tear down the Confederate monuments, but let’s make damn sure that people understand what the Confederacy was when they visit them.

  11. I’ve just been informed that the City Commission has resolved to add an additional educational sign to the fountain, written by someone from the historical society, to provide context and facts about the Civil War. That’s all I know at this point.

  12. All these attempts to put some kind of honorable interpretation to the reasons for erecting and keeping this monument are without merit. The Daughters of the Confederacy had only one goal and that was to honor the soldiers of the Confederacy and those who supported them. Not the Union soldiers, not the slaves, only the soldiers of the Confederacy. It is an insult to suggest otherwise. It’s an insult to the memory of those who suffered under the tyranny of the slaver economy. It’s an insult to those who have suffered under the oppression of this distorted legacy ever since. To honor and respect them first far outweighs some trumped up sense of indignation expressed here by a bunch of secessionist sympathizers

    This monument and other displays of affection toward the Confederacy have been either ignored or improperly tolerated for too long. Any justification for its existence and accepted in the past, or the present for that matter, are totally bankrupt in today’s context.

    For those of you who cannot come to grips with this, check out the link below. You will surely find someone to keep you company, as long as you can “prove your lineage”. What a farce!

    • Sal, I will grant you the most liberal of suppositions, that all Confederates, titled and trash, rich and poor, educated and illiterate; fought beneath the battle flags of the seceded states to defend the institution of slavery. But among human societies, slavery is the rule, not the exception.

      Agreed, few persons would choose to be a slave. And a slave order may be less productive that a commercial order. But a slave order has an advantage in that it is (relatively) fixed. Participants are secure in their position. This security has value and implies that slaves are paid a premium relative to their productivity. Certainly more productive slaves could earn more as free agents in a productive commercial economy. But the less productive slaves in a low performing economy are likely worse off financially after emancipation.

      The primary argument for emancipation of slaves, and the abolition of slavery, other than the generally higher productivity of a free economic order, is and always has been a religious, human rights argument. The economic outcomes for individuals are indeterminate, dependent on initial assumptions. Many descendants of slaves struggle today, well below the poverty line, in a market economy. Would they be better off financially, in a relative sense, if slavery had not been abolished? It is a counterfactual question with an indeterminate answer.

      Few Montanans or Americans, very few, wish to return to the days of slavery. Few men would choose to be a slave if given the choice. Yet to blindly swing the bat at thoughtful and intelligent men who tolerated, or even supported an economic order based on slavery betrays an astonishing level of ignorance. Indeed, it is clear that equality of outcomes is a precious and probably unattainable commodity within our own economy.

      Who among you has raised your children in the public schools of East St. Louis, or Fuller Park? Who among you has invited low income, single-parent families to move into the house next door and two houses down, at your own expense, in order to level the playing field? It is easy to blame dead white supremacists, a star crossed battle flag, forgotten monuments, and even Stormfront for the imperfect nation that we live in. Remove all of them, and the world will be exactly as it was before.

  13. Question for Constitutional Scholars:
    Does this fountain constitute ‘free speech’?
    Would “altering or demolishing the fountain” for the sole purpose of altering its message, or silencing its message – ??? be a violation of the first Amendment?

  14. “State’s rights” as a category of debate is at the tide rip of the slavery issue – i.e. There is a heart – of the Question: Do States have the RIGHT to REFUSE the authority of a “Union of States” – the State being a member of that Union… Does the individual State within its own borders have the right to define and interpret and regulate all the economic, political, ethical, and moral issues attendant to Slavery. By definition, from the perspective of a potential Secessionist State – The issue of slavery is essentially a States Rights issue to be decided upon, not by the Union of States, by by individual State governments in session.

  15. I hear there were a bunch of people who showed up to the commission meeting talking about “states’ rights.”

    Here’s how other cities are addressing these eyesores.

    The Mayor of St. Louis has assembled a task force to discuss moving the confederate memorial in a St. Louis park.

    Mayor Landrieu to address City Council on moving Confederate monuments in New Orleans

    Board votes to remove Confederate monument from Linn Park in Birmingham, AL

    TX Councilman calls for task force to identify local Confederate monuments to move to museums

    Ministers in NC question history of Confederate Monument given lynching associations

    • Funny you don’t mention the Arkansas state flag. In 1987 then Dem gov Bill Clinton signed a bill placing a blue star above ARKANSAS on the flag. This star commemorated the Confederate States of America.

      When are the Dems going to rise up and demand that Arkansas remove this insult? Then there is the Confederate Memorial Day celebrated in multiple states as a state holiday. So much to froth about in contrived morally superior tones and so little time to capture the news cycle.

      • Craig, the days of pretending that the Confederate Battle flag, was about state rights is over…. People started cracking open history books and looking in government records and actually found out the flag and the memorabilia associated with the daughters of confederacy was a carefully planned out Lie.

        It was and always will be about slavery. Time to tear that propaganda down and throw it in the garbage pail.

        • First, the Arkansas flag which commemorates and honors the Confederate States of America, is not the Confederate Battle Flag. The Star above the name ARKANSAS was put there by a bill signed by Dem Gov. Bill Clinton.

          Second, the Helena memorial also is not the Confederate Battle Flag. Back in 1890 a black representative to the Mississippi State House, John F. Harris, made the follow address about a similar memorial.

          —As reported in the Daily Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, Feb 23, 1890.

          “Mr. Speaker! I have arisen here in my place to offer a few words
          on the bill. I have come from a sick bed … perhaps it was not prudent
          for me to come. But, sir, I could not rest quietly in my room without
          … contributing … a few remarks of my own. I was sorry to hear the
          speech of the young gentleman from Marshall County. I am sorry that any
          son of a Soldier should go on record as opposed to the erection of a
          monument in honor of the brave dead. And, Sir, I am convinced that had
          he seen what I saw at Seven Pines and in the Seven Days’ fighting around
          Richmond, the Battlefield was covered with the mangled forms of those
          who fought for their country and for their countries honor, he would not
          have made that speech.

          When the news came that the South had been invaded, those men
          went forth to fight for what they believed, and they made no requests
          for monuments. … But they died, and their virtues should be
          remembered. Sir, I went with them. I too, wore the gray, the same color
          my master wore. We stayed four long years, and if that war had gone on
          till now I would have been there yet … I want to honor those brave men
          who died for their convictions. When my mother died I was a boy. Who,
          Sir, then acted the part of a mother to the orphaned slave boy, but my
          ‘old missus’? Were she living now, or could speak to me from those high
          realms where are gathered the sainted dead, she would tell me to vote
          for this bill. And, Sir, I shall vote for it. I want it to be known to
          all the world that my vote is given in favor of the bill to erect a
          monument in honor of the Confederate dead.”

          By the way, have you ever read Lincoln’s first inaugural address? He said in part:

          “Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—

          I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

          Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

          Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

          I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause—as cheerfully to one section as to another.”

          So in the words of John Harris, southerners rose to repel an invasion, the very act Lincoln describe as the gravest of crimes. Now it is important to understand this view in order to understand the intentions behind honoring those soldiers who wore gray, even those who were black like John Harris.

  16. Soldiers that fought for the Confederacy are like those who fought in Viet Nam and Iraq. Just disposable bodies sacrificed by politicians for their own perverted ambitions. You can argue that the stars and stripes flew over more atrocities and questionable causes than the confederate flag.

    • Sam, you’re getting warmer. I’m a Vietnam veteran and I and many of my comrades, as well as many, many citizens, firmly believe that the Vietnam war was a travesty by us. Robert McNamara admitted in “The Fog of War” that our leadership knew that what they were doing was wrong, but kept on doing it anyway. I hope that McNamara and Johnson and all the others that felt like this continue to burn in the appropriate place. However, who would ever suggest that we tear down, or move, or hide any of the Vietnam veteran memorials. I wouldn’t, not for a minute. Is the fountain a direct comparison? I don’t know.

      • NO one will take away a Vietnam memorial….that’s because we veterans fought for the United States, not the confederate states of the south.

        As I have said before, the south seceded from the USA. they voted in a president,wrote their own constitution made their own money raised their own army, and fired first upon the United States of America.

        They were traitors. Vietnam vets are not. Our war was unpopular and becasue of it we as soldiers just trying to do our jobs were shunned. Big Difference.

        • Point of clarity. “They” fired first on an foreign fort held in the state of South Carolina. Subtle and significant distinctions do tend to get lost when creating monsters.

          • Mr. Kailey, please make a note of this for further reference.

            Your best bet at not getting banned again is to stay away from people you look for ways to constantly argue with! Get it?

            • MT. Temperance, if you require that I never respond to Norma, regardless of the facts involved, would you please for the love of God, just say so.

          • Point of clarity ??
            Reads more like yet another sophist attempt
            at deceptive distraction!
            Just for a week try making useful contributions of merit!
            Most other Posts do!
            I see no good reasons for a selfish resident contrarian on this public site.
            But I’m biased. I come here for realism from a wide range of people.

  17. So let’s get this straight. For approximately 250 years, that’s 250 years, an exclusively white society enslaves a group of people, starts a Civil War to perpetuate that slaver society and then, upon losing that war, engages in a 150 year effort to re-interpret and honor that secession. In the meantime those who were the real victims, you know, the ones who were enslaved and then subsequently lynched and discriminated against in the intervening years are left out of consideration. It must be a great comfort to their offspring to learn this monument really doesn’t honor those who enslaved their ancestors or continue to discriminate against them since. And they must be especially pleased to know that slavery was really good for them.

    “Why it’s nothing more than a pile of rocks” that does nothing more than honor their sacrifice – the sacrifice of those soldiers that is. Not to be mixed up with all that silly suffering of the slaves. Somehow they are not as deserving of respect and human dignity as the ones who have embarked on this distorted attempt to continue justifying an immoral enterprise. Instead we are told it is far more important to make sure we don’t dishonor the sacrifice of those heroic Confederate soldiers, who are apparently the real victims.

    What a crock of sh..!

    You poor babies. You just can’t get any respect. Do you really think in your hearts there is any shred of credibility in your defense of the Confederacy and the legacy it stands for? If you truly do think so and are of a young age, perhaps you will live long enough to see an end to this nonsense and have a chance to redeem yourself. If you are up in years you may just go to your maker with this twisted sense of the world still intact in your mind and have to explain it then. Good luck with that.

    • It is worth while to note that the ‘Makers’ holy book condones slavery. Not one person writing here about a fountain has done so.

      • Clever. And that same, written by men, source claims the earth was created in a week. If you find comfort in all that, then more power to you. Bottom line, you’ll still have to account for your beliefs when the time comes.

        • I’m not a religious man, Sal. I won’t ever have to account for my beliefs until the politburo, or my wife, demand I do so. She’s even more radically socialist and feminist than you ever could hope to be. So I guess I am kinda clever. Thanks for noticing.

    • Good Job Sal I believe the same thing!

  18. I’m beginning, more and more, to see this kerfuffle as a game of words, as if words actually control thinking, and not vice-versa. Don actually made a terrific point above in pointing out that Montana no longer uses disparaging words to refer to objects, things. We are right to do so because words like “squaw” are demeaning and diminutive to people who still walk and breath and join the American experience.

    The Confederacy no longer exists. That was settled, as noted above, at the Appomattox Court House. It was settled by executive order from President Lincoln. There is no longer a Confederacy, it is just history. Yet history can’t be compartmentalized, sanitized. The very same South Carolinians who fired first on a union fort in Confederate territory were the sons and daughters of the South Carolinians who fought savagely, brutally, against the British who occupied “US” soil as according to the Declaration of Independence. Heroic traitors to traitorous monsters in less than a hundred years, right?

    150 years after that, we are getting upset that a water feature bears the name of a long gone regime. Meanwhile, we have buildings, hospitals, lakes, monuments and roads bearing the names of Copper Kings and mining barons, the very people who hired thugs to kill workers for the love of money. Marcus Daly? Clark? Holter? Davis? They jumped claims, stole, murdered and incited riots. But they’re good Montanans so no outrage is forthcoming concerning the legacy of their words. Or … it’s possible that people are comfortable with a legacy that’s gone, just a part of history. Another example. Many of you may have visited the “Big Hole Battlefield”. It wasn’t a Battlefield, it was a slaughter of innocents. The visitor’s center makes that quite clear, but yet on every map you still see those words. “Big Hole Battlefield”. It’s strange to me that people are getting so het up about the words “Confederate fountain”, words that are meaningless to anyone save that they refer to a water feature in a park in Helena. So het up, in fact, that other commenters are willing to wish damnation on those who don’t find this a *really big deal*.

    There is a part of me that absolutely agrees with Greg Strandberg, above. Who’s going to pay for these alterations that give folk the good feels? The folk of Helena will pay for the placard update, a small price, no doubts. The Democrats of Montana will pay for wasted effort on a another PC boondoggle. It won’t cost money, it will cost votes. Ultimately, it costs vision for the future of Montana because people are so concerned with it’s fantasy of past.

  19. Its done….And probably as you are reading this the Flag that stood for slavery and hate has left the grounds of South Carolina’s Capital never to return again. The Confederate flag’s days as a public symbol – a flag or a state emblem has come to an end. Good for America

    Will people still wear the symbol on their t-shirts or fly it from their homes or pick up trucks? Sure they will. But as far as this flag symbolizing a state or local government, that day is over.

    The day is also over in pretending anytime in the future that states rights mean subjecting a race, or a same sex couples to some barbaric past. Whether it be through propaganda like the confederate flag, or daughter of the confederate war, or some ancient religious book.

    Its not American, to keep denying our past. Its is American to learn from it, Fight our demons, fix the mistakes, equalize the playing field, change the rules when necessary and move on.

  20. EugeneInSanDiego | July 21, 2015 5:38 PM at 5:38 PM |

    I just happened by this site and found to my great amusement that there exists, in Montana of all places,
    a memorial, a fountain dedicated to the great historical tradition of treason and racism – celebrated yearly in Dixie by the losers who fought in a evil cause – who yet seek to be honored for their participation in that evil cause.

    Just because someone chooses to die for a cause, it does not follow that it was a good cause.


  21. Comments here sound like the book Animal farm where “We support Freedom, but some will have more Freedom then others” the Declaration of Independence said all men were created equal, except for Women, who couldn’t vote, non property owners and slaves. So did our flag represent this freedom for some, but not for all, mentality. Jefferson and Washington, both had slaves, as did other founding fathers. We can’t change history, nor should we.

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