Long time readers of the faculty lounge may recall that one of my interests is the law of monuments -- the placement and removal of monuments (of which building names are a key part). But one of the things that really interests me is why so frequently monuments themselves talk about law. You may remember the monument at Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery that commemorates the gift of the Confederate section from the state to the cemetery. And the Pennsylvania monument at Virginia's battle of New Market has a plaque commemorating the transfer of title of the monument from the Pennsylvania to Virginia. And the statue of General Meade at Gettysburg has a plaque reciting Congress' act praising the United States' army's service at Gettysburg. I understand the later -- the law is itself a monument.
Now I want to talk about the North Carolina monument at Appomatox. It commemorates the final battle before Lee surrendered, in which troops from North Carolina participated. There's a picture of it in the upper right. It reads in part:
This stone is erected by the authority of the general assembly of North Carolina in grateful and perpetual memory to the valor, endurance, and patriotism of her sons, who followed with unshaken fidelity the fortunes of the Confederacy to this closing scene, faithful to the end. Erected 9 April 1905.
I get that monuments are placed often through the acts of a legislature, but I'm interested in why monuments so frequently have law on them? It seems like the act of the legislature is sort of subordinate to the larger message that the monument's placers want to convey.
In a subsequent post I talk some more about the North Carolina monument itself, because it's pretty interesting how the monument discusses the North Carolina free and slave population.