The Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statues in Charlottesville, Virginia garnered national attention in 2017. Given this widespread interest, the Charlottesville Statues Legal History Research Guide provides resources for those interested in the statues' past and present. It features litigation documents from the ongoing court case, Payne v. City of Charlottesville, as well as a growing list of research materials, including municipal records, digitized texts, and archival collections.
The Lee and Jackson statues date to the early twentieth century. Paul G. McIntire, a Charlottesville graduate of the University of Virginia, commissioned them—Lee in 1917 and Jackson in 1919—and purchased the lands upon which they currently reside. Once completed, the statues were unveiled at Confederate reunions. The Jackson statue was unveiled on October 19, 1921 in then Jackson Park (now Court Square Park). Less than three years later, the Lee Statue was unveiled on May 21, 1924 in then Lee Park (now Market Street Park).
The current legal case, Payne v. City of Charlottesville, considers the actions of the Charlottesville City Council. On February 6, 2017, the City Council voted to remove the Lee statue. In response, numerous plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to prevent any changes to either Market Street (formerly Lee and Emancipation) or Court Square (formerly Jackson and Justice) Park.* On September 5, 2017, the City Council voted to remove the Jackson statue as well. Documents relating to the ongoing court case in the Charlottesville Circuit Court can be found under “Litigation.” These docket files are full-text searchable. They contain accounts of recent events as well as excerpts from historical documents, including deeds, City Council minutes, and personal correspondence. Many of these latter documents can be found in full on the “Research Materials” page. That page features a growing compendium of texts and archival collections relating to the commission, construction, and unveiling of these statues and the associated parks.
*The names of these parks have changed several times. The park that was deeded as Lee Park was renamed Emancipation Park in June 2017. In July 2018, it was renamed Market Street Park. The park that deeded as Jackson Park was renamed Justice Park in June 2017. In July 2018, it was renamed Court Square Park.
The Charlottesville Statues Legal History Research Guide includes and references documents with myriad opinions. Their inclusion does not indicate endorsement of their contents nor sympathy with the ideologies, doctrines, or means employed by their authors or persons mentioned in the documents. The documents are featured here for research purposes only.
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