The NAACP’s suggestion that Confederate faces be sandblasted off Stone Mountain has inspired several musings, serious and otherwise.
In the latter category, you can include a MoveOn petition initiated by artist and provocateur Mack Williams:
By no means do we wish to erase or destroy the current carving, which, regardless of its context, is an impressive and historic work of art. We simply wish to add new carvings, of Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast, to the mountainside. There’s plenty of room.
I believe that Daddy Fat Sacks and Three Stacks should be carved riding in a Cadillac (as is their wont). This will help the new carving blend nicely with the Confederates who are on horseback.
Outkast are two of the greatest Georgians in the history of our state. It’s about time the Empire State of the South paid proper tribute to them, while also improving a great monument and tourist attraction.
(Believe it or not, there's more on this effort over here.)
Then we have longtime lobbyist and amateur historian Neill Herring, who reminds us there actually was a successful effort to erase work on the giant memorial. He says it was done by the mountain’s first artist, Gutzon Borglum, who started the carvings before simmering tensions with his financial backers led him to bolt.
He got in a fight with the Memorial Association and actually did blast his work off the face of the mountain. The second version, the one that is there now, finished in my boyhood, was actually started by another sculptor named Augustus Lukeman, and he was working on it when the money ran out, WWII intervened.
I remember visiting Stone Mountain before they started back to work, and you could climb a giant pile of rubble from the Borglum and Lukeman work, the waste pile, and get fairly high. I remember looking up at the bottom of a scabbard hanging from one of the heroes.
Borglum was quite a showman, and held a dinner party on the shoulder of Gen. Lee during the period before his artistic sensibility was disturbed and he had to use dynamite to set things aright.
Finally, at the Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore, a former Georgia Democratic operative, includes this tidbit of history as he ponders Stone Mountain’s place in Southern society:
There’s something a bit ironic about [Stonewall] Jackson appearing on Stone Mountain, since a more appropriate (and in contemporary sources, the most important) military adjutant to Lee was James Longstreet, who spent much of his childhood in, and eventually died in, Georgia.
But after the war Longstreet supported voting rights for ex-slaves and backed (and even played a role in) military reconstruction in the South. Thus he became the object of a vociferous campaign of slander by unreconstructed ex- and neo-Confederates, who elevated Jackson into Longstreet’s place alongside Lee in the South’s popular imagination.
Among other interesting traits, Jackson favored a policy of executing Union prisoners of war, based on his reading of Old Testament precedents. That’s the man up there with Davis and Lee on Stone Mountain.
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