Columbia-area historian opinion on State House Confederate monuments: "I'm disappointed"

Columbia-area historian opinion on State House Confederate monuments: "I'm disappointed"

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After violence in Charlottesville and rallies and riots surrounding one Confederate monument of General Robert E. Lee, some groups in South Carolina are calling for the removal of Confederate statues.

Now, one Columbia-area historian says, in his opinion, the monuments should be changed rather than taken down. David Brinkman uses the Wade Hampton statue as an example:

"You could look at Wade Hampton, at his life," Brinkman says, "you know, he was one of the richest men in South Carolina, and he lost everything in the Civil War. He funded his own war machine in that and late in the war, his son who had been fighting beside him all the time was mortally wounded and died in his father's arms."

Brinkman has researched the Civil War in South Carolina; he has even corrected archives and traced the path of historic buildings on the State House grounds, so he's familiar with several statues surrounding the Capitol.

On some groups' calls for removing statues across the state, he reacts, "I do think it's removing a reminder of history, but maybe not the right kind of reminder."

Brinkman believes they should convey tragedy, instead of glorifying Confederate generals; he says that they should tell the stories of how those involved suffered, to show the Civil War was a dark time in American history.

"I'm disappointed that there's not more focus on this," Brinkman says, "I think some of the monuments could be modified. Some could be replaced with World War II monuments, maybe."

He also feels that focusing on the past is distracting from the present.

"You know, we've got bigger problems than this. You know, we've got this guy in North Korea that's threatening to nuke the United States. You know, if we don't take care of that, we're going to be looking at another generation of war monuments," he says.

Brinkman is not in favor of changing the Heritage Act, which is the statute requiring two-thirds of the state House and Senate in order to remove a monument because he feels it protects more statues than just those Civil War monuments.

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