Confederate Monuments and Unintended Consequences

By:  Pat Austin

Detail of Caddo Parish Confederate monument

SHREVEPORT – Indulge me this week.  I’m so sick of national politics I just can’t bang out one more post on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or the uninformed masses who continue to believe that raising the minimum wage is the answer to our problems (sorry about that last one – someone on Facebook rattled my cage this morning).  Actually, Facebook is the devil.  Let’s don’t talk about that, either.

I’m finding my interests these days turning more to local issues and the snake pit that is our local government; this is not very good fodder for a blog like this one with national readers as a rule, so I save that stuff for my own blog.  However, we do have a sort of regional controversy going on around here as of late with the brouhaha over the Confederate monuments.  I’ve written about it here on this blog before, but I’m sharing this with you now as an example of the ever important principle of “unintended consequences.”

Here in Shreveport we have a term-limited local official who is bound and determined to remove the Confederate monument that stands outside our Caddo Parish courthouse before he leaves office.  He’s tried several times over the years to have it removed and has never been successful primarily because the little patch of land it stands on was donated to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903. Although a formal deed was never recorded, the donation is recorded in the minutes of the Police Jury meeting when the land (and a $1,000 donation toward the commission of the monument) was given.

Back in those days people did business with a handshake and a good word, so it’s not surprising that a deed was never filed, but it would make things a bit more clear today.

Here is where the unintended consequences come in.  This local official is still pressing the monument issue and now it seems that the parish may not own the land upon which the courthouse sits at all.  There is a possibility that the land actually belongs to the heirs of a man named Larkin Edwards who was an interpreter for the Caddo Indians; the Caddo Indians were so fond of Mr. Edwards that they reserved and donated large parcels of land to him in their treaties with the government.

Talk about a can of worms…talk about unintended consequences…

We don’t know how all this is going to turn out: maybe it will just die on the vine as it has in years past, or maybe some attorney will grab hold of it and find some heirs to make a claim, or maybe some other resolution will be found.  In the end, it seems to me, that the only winners here will be the lawyers.

As to the issue of Confederate monuments, there have been pushes to remove them from public spaces and to change names of highways or schools named after Confederate generals.  As this blog attracts readers across the nation rather than just down here in the South, I am curious what the nation as a whole thinks of this.  Is it a movement to erase or revise history?  Do these monuments belong in front of courthouses or as in the case of New Orleans, in the middle of a traffic circle?

I’ve heard, but not yet researched, that there are movements to remove Union monuments in the North as well.

Curious what you think.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.