During an emergency meeting Tuesday night, the Warren County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to remove the Confederate monument on Courthouse Square in Warrenton.
Before the vote, Chairman of the County Commissioners Tare “T” Davis urged board members to consider the safety of Warren County citizens and businesses in light of threats made on Facebook from people outside the county to forcibly remove the monument. He added that if the monument were removed now, it could be stored while commissioners reached a decision on whether and where to relocate it.
Commissioner Victor Hunt also called for commissioners to act now to protect the safety of local residents and businesses in order to preserve the peacefulness of the county.
Beginning with calls to do so back in 2017 after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. — and in response to recent increased activity on social media — including a locally generated petition signed by more than 300 people, the commissioners made their decision.
While recent protests and removals have been limited to larger cities, Warrenton was known to be on the list of towns to target. After the Louisburg Town Council voted on June 21 to relocate a statue on Main Street to a cemetery on Hwy. 401, Warren County officials called an emergency meeting on Tuesday. The board ultimately decided to preempt the potential for confrontation, violence, and damage to the downtown Warrenton area if protestors were to show up and try to remove the statue on their own.
In 2017, then-interim County Attorney Hassan Kingsberry said that state law enacted in 2015 protects such monuments from removal. North Carolina General Statute 100 became law during the administration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. It protects monuments, memorials and works of art — sometimes referred to as objects of remembrance — on public land from being removed, relocated or altered without approval of the state Historical Commission.
However, those on public property may be permanently relocated only to a site of similar prominence and under limited circumstances. Those reasons include temporary or permanent relocation when necessary for construction, renovation or reconfiguration of buildings, open spaces, parking or transportation projects; and to preserve the object.
Warren County’s monument
The Confederate monument on Courthouse Square in Warrenton was erected in 1913 “to the Confederate soldiers of Warren County 1861-1865.”
According to articles published in Warren County’s newspaper, The Record, the Warren Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy began fundraising efforts for the monument in January 1913. Placement was desired on Courthouse Square so all citizens could “see for themselves the evidence of the devotion of the daughters of the South to their husbands, sons and sweethearts.”
The estimated cost for the monument was $3,000, and local men were challenged to give donations of $100 each. The first three to do so are reported to be Dr. P.J. Macon, J.H. Kerr and Tasker Polk.
At the time, Confederate monuments had already been erected in Vance, Granville and Halifax counties, according to the newspaper.
Oct. 29, 1913, was observed as Confederate Day, when the monument was unveiled during a public ceremony full of fanfare that included a parade with a brass band, Boy Scouts, Confederate soldiers, and local and state officials making speeches. Charles Moore of Littleton, a member of the board of county commissioners, accepted the monument on behalf of the county.