Patricia N. Saffran, The Charlottesville Lee Equestrian Statue Meltdown Postmortem

Patricia N. Saffran

A Premeditated Execution in Effigy

When the Shrady/Lentelli Robert E. Lee Equestrian Monument was unveiled on May 21, 1924, in Charlottesville, a child pulled off the covering to the cheering crowd. The much admired Beaux Art sculpture had the elegance of the art movement, which featured harmonious proportions that are meant to evoke pleasing ancient Greek and Roman statues.  All weekend long a reunion of Confederate troops was held in conjunction with the unveiling. Some of the speakers spoke about the gift from philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire to beautify Charlottesville of this sculpture and three other Beaux Arts sculptures such the Charles Keck’s Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, 1921. Other speakers spoke at length of Lee’s life and his military career. One of the addresses mentioned that Lee abhorred slavery. (Lee was ahead of his time when he freed his slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation.) Since the country had recently experienced WWI, another theme in the speeches was peace and reconciliation, downplaying the turbulence following the Civil War.


Commander Lee O. Miller of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, addressed veterans on May 20, 1924, in the Masonic Temple  saying,


“We are coming to understand that Appomattox was a crisis in American history.  The Army of Northern Virginia had reached the limit of its power of resistance, but a great section of this nation still remained militant and unconquered.  The Southern Confederacy might still maintain its armed contention in scattered guerrilla warfare for many years, Lee was the only living man who could bring peace to America.  So completely had he gained the loving confidence of the Southern people, that he was the only man who could surrender the Confederacy.


“He [Lee] faced the issue without flinching. His ideal for democracy — the Virginia ideal — had failed. But the question remained, should all hope of the maintenance of any democratic union in this country fail also?  The contemplation of the continuation of the struggle by irregular warfare, carried on by roving bands and scattered groups of uncontrolled and undisciplined guerrillas, with its inevitable cruelties and wreckage, idled the soul of Lee with horror. His decision . . was Robert Edward Lee’s contribution of peace and freedom to the children of America.


“In 1917-18 when the sons of the blue and of the gray kept step beneath the starry light and flaunting folds of one flag, permeated with the one purpose to make its ideal of democracy regnant among the nations of the world, it was because Lee, with the vision of a statesman and the unselfishness of a patriot, surrendered at Appomattox.  And now he turns old Traveler’s head away from the battlefield . . . he rides on to the little impoverished college [Washington and Lee] in the rock-ribbed hills of Virginia, with the words, ‘I have a self-imposed task. As I have led the sons of the South upon the field of battle, so must I now lead them in the paths of peace.’”


Peace after the Civil War was on Lee’s mind but was peace on the minds of those who melted down the Lee statue on October 27, 2023?’



Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Little Sorrel
The Lee and Jackson statues referred to in the 1924 speeches were removed from their plinths in one piece on July 10, 2021. The Jackson on Little Sorrel statue was sent to the LAXART Museum and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in LA for a future Civil War exhibition. They gave approximately $50,000. for the loan of Jackson. The Charlottesville City Council refused to give them Lee even though the museum offered an additional $50,000. Instead, the City Council gave Lee to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center who expressed a desire to melt the statue down, which resulted in a court case brought by preservationists. The Lee statue was then put into storage and secretly broken up into smaller pieces. Supposedly, the statue wasn’t cut on the joints, meaning it couldn’t be easily reassembled or recognized as Lee and Traveler again.  The same day that the Lee and Jackson statues were removed, after an emergency meeting, the City Council ordered Charles Keck’s Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea statue, 1919, also to be removed later in the afternoon. The following day the sculpture grouping with Revolutionary War Brigadier General George Rogers Clark was also removed. These sculptures had all been gifts from Paul Goodloe McIntire.


As to the Lee sculpture sitting in pieces in storage, Andrea Douglas, Executive Director, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, pressed further to melt it down.  She obtained much of the $1.1 million funding needed for the meltdown from the Soros Open Society, Charlottesville philanthropist Elizabeth Breeden, and Virginia Humanities.  Dr. Douglas wanted the bronze pieces to go toward creating a new statue with community input, which drew criticism from some in the community as a waste of money.  They argued that a new statue from bronze would only cost about $100 thousand.  Her project is called, “Swords into Plowshares,” and her partner for this venture is local resident, Dr. Jalene Schmidt.   In a press statement on December 8, 2021 to WUSA9 News. Dr. Douglas defended her position to completely destroy the statue, saying, “It’s a moral decision for us. We don’t want our trauma moved to another community.” Dr. Douglas may be referring to Unite the Right’s disruptive rally to preserve Lee in Lee Park in August 2017 in which all participants had matching tiki torches.


Dr. Douglas was sent a series of questions on September 19, 2022, during the court case to prevent the meltdown. She wrote that she couldn’t answer (due to the court case). Andrea Douglas had announced that the statue was already in pieces, so that it couldn’t be put back together.  In the court case, Plaintiffs, the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation and the Ratcliffe Foundation, said cutting up and melting down the the statue was illegal. They wanted the City to recomplete and restore the statue, or find alternative uses for the bronze such as turning the remains into a cannon for a Civil War battlefield.


An advisor to the Monument Fund that represented the Plaintiffs in the suit against the City Council (that gave the statue to the Jefferson School) and school itself, said on October 20, 2023, “Our case was nonsuited (voluntarily dismissed).  The Judge made a series of rulings that left the remaining Plaintiff Trevilian with little or nothing to win.  Continuing a fight for the sake of fighting, when there are no resources and nothing to win, is contrary to the honorable example of Robert E. Lee.  In my view the video of defacing Lee  (literally) so outraged  folks that bringing any piece of it back to Charlottesville is going to bring violence back to Charlottesville. The deterioration of Charlottesville is evident in what has happened since Lee was removed in the now empty Lee Park:  a  haven for alcoholics and drug addicts (beware smashed bottles and discarded needles) a tent city for the  homeless including the mentally ill just recently shut down.  Just in the last month a stabbing in or near Lee park; a murder by eight gunshots a block away. [Lee Park, which was renamed Market Street Park, had become so toxic to the community that it was recently cleared out on October 22, 2023.] The loss of the Lee monument, a magnificent image of quiet decorum which brought civility and decency to our downtown —  has been a loss to us all.”


Recently, November 2, 2023, Andrea Douglas was sent more questions about the meltdown, after it occurred, such as, “With the polls showing statue removals were not supported by 52% of the population why did you pursue the Lee meltdown?  Why did you not pursue giving away the Lee statue either to LAXART museum (who offered $50,000. for it, similar to what they’re paying to exhibit the Keck Jackson sculpture, that Charlottesville released to them) or to private individuals, who wouldn’t have experienced any pain from having it on their property or in their museum?  Contractor Devon Henry said he lifted the Lee statue in one piece and transported it that way. When someone else broke it down into pieces, which you said couldn’t be put back together, why did you save the head and sword whole? Why didn’t you save the horse’s head whole (which would be of value to collectors?)  Since statue removals result in spikes in violent crime, didn’t you consider that a meltdown might incite even greater violence?”


Andrea Douglas once again declined to comment. It should be noted that the video that was distributed publicly of a private meltdown of Lee’s head and sword, seems to contradict her previous statement about the statue had been already cut up into small pieces, giving the illusion that Lee wouldn’t be recognizable.  It appears that she had intentionally saved larger pieces of the monument for her video, to make it as lurid and violent as possible, as if a life-like murder was taking place. Was this Dr. Douglas’s ode to peace? Lee had better intentions, to end violence. The Lee statue meltdown can best be described as a premeditated execution in effigy.


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8 thoughts on “Patricia N. Saffran, The Charlottesville Lee Equestrian Statue Meltdown Postmortem”

  1. The end of free speech on the Internet could be as early as or at least started by tomorrow? Is this possible?

    Tomorrow The Government Will Vote For The Biden Administration To Take TOTAL CONTROL Of The Internet 🚨

    President Biden’s Plan to Give the Administrative State Effective Control of all Internet Services and Infrastructure in the U.S.

    FCC Commissioner, The Joe Biden Administration Has Put Together & Is Planning On Implementing The Most Comprehensive Internet Censorship/ Control Plan In History. The Government Will Assume “Effective Control Of All Internet Services”

    Elon Musk
    …….. you definitely need to see this 🚨

    The Biden administration has just put forward a plan for digital equity. And it is a plan for all internet services and all infrastructure.

    According to FCC Commissioner Carr, President Biden’s plan hands the administrative state effective control of all internet services and infrastructure in the country. Never before in the roughly 40-year history of the public internet has the FCC, or any federal agency for that matter, claimed this degree of control over it.

    The plan calls for the FCC to apply a far-reaching set of government controls that the agency has not applied to any technology in the modern era.

    You got that? This has never been done before. No communication devices have ever had this kind of control suggested by the government, let alone applied.

    He went on and said, Congress never contemplated the sweeping regulatory regime that president Biden asked the FCC to adopt, let alone authorize the agency to implement it. Here’s what’s happening. As with everything else the Biden administration is doing, his broadband policies are failing and the building of internet infrastructure in this country, uh, the price of it has gone through the roof.

    FCC wants new 5G broadband services, but it’s all needlessly been blocked and delayed by new broadband infrastructure regulatory red tape. So the government is blocking the private sector from doing it and then using that to say, see, we need to take complete control.

    This is breathtaking control of all information.

    The rules, the the rules that are suggested and are going to be voted on, quick, hurry, next week, the federal government has a roving mandate to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the internet functions.

  2. I don’t know about Robert E Lee or Stonewall Jackson, but I know that today Blacks in general are a highly privileged class, many of whom lack a sense of graciousness or civility. The NFL needs a rule that head hair cannot extend below the rim of the helmet. Some I have come in contact with do not know who Thamas Sowell is, do not recognize that Oscar Peterson was one the greatest pianists in the world, and have a general dislike for people like Candice Owens, ABL, and Cynthia McKinney.

  3. Next time some Marxist tells you the 2020 election was not stolen, shove this in their face:

    “Guess what machines tried to rob her. Guess how many Democrats were put into power all over America by such machines. The scam is in place nationwide folks. The machines cannot be trusted, EVER. Trump is right, we must have paper ballots again to save freedom or we will become a Marxist nation soon after the next election (or they will try, another reason the 2nd Amendment will save freedom, but with massive bloodshed to free our nation, if it ever came to that) “

  4. I lived in Charlottesville for twenty years and left in ’98. …had two restaurants (one of which (the Roasted Bean) was the first real coffeehouse in C’ville., The Market Street Cafe and three other businesses …..The Best Choice…a cloth grocery bag company, Paintwerks {we painted the now defunct ice skating center on the Downtown Mall} and a construction business. Oh, and almost forgot…a frozen apple cider company.

    It was a different town in those days….open to just about anything. When I returned to visit and cat sit for my oldest friend in 2018, it had changed dramatically. High tech had spread it’s ugly money and transformed the place into an unrecognizable crap hole.
    What gave that organization the right to destroy public property with NO consequences is beyond my pay grade. Why stop there….may as well destroy the Rotunda and Monticello, eh? I’ll NEVER go back.

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