LEGACY -- Robert E. Lee Statue - New Orleans, LA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 29° 56.626 W 090° 04.341
15R E 782586 N 3316160
Quick Description: The original route of the OST passed by Lee Circle along St Charles Street on its way through New Orleans and went right past this statue of Robert E. Lee that stood in Lee Circle from 1884-19 May 2017.
Location: Louisiana, United States
Date Posted: 4/18/2016 12:37:48 PM
Waymark Code: WMQZAC
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 10

Long Description:
Old road maps of the 1920-1930s show clearly that the OST crossed the Mississippi River from Jefferson Parish via ferry and entered New Orleans at Louisiana Street, proceeded up Louisiana Street to St Charles Avenue, turned east onto St Charles to Canal Street, turned north on Canal Street through the Central business district to Gentilly Road, and then turned east out of New Orleans along Gentilly Road to Chalmette.

From the St. Mary's University website: (visit link)

"Traveling West on The Old Spanish Trail Highway

Louisiana: Through New Orleans

The devastation (meaning destruction of the old route of the OST -- BMB) along the OST through Mississippi continues as the traveler crosses the border into Louisiana and drives down the east coast of Lake Ponchartrain. The OST is still intact for much of that trip but the many houses along the road have, for the most part, vanished. Only the stilts upon which the houses had always escaped rising water remain as a reminder of what had been. The OST bridges along the approach to the Crescent City have long vanished, replaced by more modern (1940s and 1950s) bridges for U.S. 90. But the roadway is essentially the same, just widened and improved even more.

The 1931 Old Spanish Trail Travel Bulletin notes that "The OST across Louisiana is being paved; about two-thirds completed, remainder to be completed during 1931." Among the remaining problems in 1931 were (1) getting across the Mississippi River at New Orleans and (2) crossing the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City.

After leaving Pearlington and Mississippi, the OST continues west into Slidell and then drops directly south along the east shore of Lake Pontchartrain (the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge—shown on the map above—was not available until the early 1930s and was opposed by Huey P. Long) and into east New Orleans. It is essential to have a contemporary (1924 - 1931) map of the city to actually follow the highway's route through the city. The traveler should also remember that the roads then marked as OST already existed at the time the highway was marked, but the OST Association and local taxes did help to improve and widen the streets. You should, if you do not have your own map, consider the map below.

Do note that the OST is clearly marked as the map crosses the now infamous Navigation Canal and enters the city at Gentilly Road. It turns south on Broad Street to Canal and continues to St. Charles Avenue. OST goes west on St. Charles Avenue to Louisiana Avenue and then turns left down to the Mississippi River where travelers on the OST took a ferry across the river. Where necessary, OST improved roads and always added the OST pole markers, but the names of the streets remained as they are today. You can, of course, no longer get down to the river at that point thanks to the levees and there is no longer a ferry making hourly runs to and from New Orleans.

The Williams Research Center across from Jackson Square is an essential resource for anyone doing research on any part of New Orleans. The archivists there are extremely helpful in locating old maps of the city that mark the route. Most of the maps used to locate the OST's route through New Orleans, though not reproduced here, are in the archives of that center.

Some years after the celebration that marked the completion of the OST (along with the placement of the "zero point" markers), Huey P. Long's administration as Governor of Louisiana managed to build bridges across the Mississippi River at New Orleans and at Baton Rouge. If a traveler takes the Huey P. Long (U.S. 90) Bridge out of New Orleans, the car will be headed towards a reunion with OST, but will miss many miles of the original road bed as U.S. 90 is elevated and the OST was ground-level as it crossed that section out of New Orleans within five miles of the west side of the river."

This route would have run the OST through the Garden District and past Lee Circle in New Orleans. Waymarkers should look fast -- Lee Circle may be one for the history books soon. In 2016 the New Orleans City Council is considering removing this statue of Robert E. Lee from this place.

The Lee Monument is controversial in 2016 because it's part of the "Lost Cause" mythology that has recast the Confederacy and those who fought for the Confederate cause not as rebels but as a heroic defenders of state's rights and individual freedom; not traitors who repudiated the United States and who fought to preserve slavery (without which the South's agricultural economy would not be as lucrative) and the status of the white race (which had all the political and societal power in the South).

The Lee statue was erected in 1884, at the start of the Lost Cause campaign launched by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and other similarly-minded groups that peaked in the early 1900s. The UDC raised and spent millions erecting laudatory statues of Confederate generals and soldiers across the South, each featuring soaring proclamations of valor and heroism not exactly always supported by the history books.

The Lee Monument is part of that larger struggle to define the Civil War and come to terms with societal divisions based on race and class that persist to this day.

From Wikipedia: (visit link)


The monument was dedicated in 1884 at the newly renamed Lee Circle on St. Charles Avenue. Dignitaries present at the dedication on February 22—George Washington's birthday—included former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, two daughters of General Lee, and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. Efforts to build the statue began after Lee's death in 1870 by the Robert E. Lee Monumental Association, which by 1876 had raised the $36,400 needed. New York sculptor Alexander Doyle was hired to sculpt the statue.

The Lee statue "faces north where, as local lore has it, he can always look in the direction of his military adversaries."

The irony here is that had Lee been alive, he would have opposed it. Not only was he a modest man, he also believed "it is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony." Source: (visit link)

I think Lee would have been horrified at the chaos andcontroversy surrounding this statue. I hope he would have come to regret his actions in support of a vile breakaway government that saought to build a country based on keeping another race in perpetual cruel servitude.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's speech after the Lee statue, the last of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans, was removed, is an amazing read:http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a55218/new-orleans-mayor-speech-confederate-monuments/

Here's an excerpt:

". . . New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America's largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined 'separate but equal'; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them."

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let's start with the facts.

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This 'cult' had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone's lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous 'Cornerstone speech' that the Confederacy's "cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said, "Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men."

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

. . .

To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person's humanity seems perverse and absurd.

Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place.

Here is the essential truth: we are better together than we are apart. Indivisibility is our essence. Isn't this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world?

We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz; the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures.

Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it!

And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush's words, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them."

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say "wait, not so fast."

But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "wait has almost always meant never."

We can't wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don't change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. . . ."
Submission Criteria:

Distinctive or Significant Interest

Website with More Information: [Web Link]

Address of Waymark:
[formerly] Lee Circle
St Charles St at Howard St
New Orleans, LA USA

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