Not all Confederate statues were racist, writes Patricia Saffran. Jacob Ecclestone says that Robert E Lee was undoubtedly a supporter of slavery. Plus letters from David Budgen, Richard Ascough, Mallory Wober, David Hine and Guy Walker
It would be a stretch to say the civil war monuments in the American south were only erected to be racist (Toppling statues? Here’s why Nelson’s column should be next, 22 August). Many civil war statues were funded by both the north and the south at the turn of the century, up until the 1920s when the vast majority of these veterans were dying off and their families wanted to put something up to remember their fathers and grandfathers. Their heroes and leaders were the natural subjects for these tributes.
It should be noted that the north had the best sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The south wanted more statuary and turned to Beaux-Arts and classical sculptors. North and the south artworks are best represented in Vicksburg over a period of years. None of the articles on statues in the news mention who the sculptors were and their value. It’s easier to trash them if that information is not discussed. Afua Hirsch also ignores the pedigree of Nelson’s column, which had a number of renowned sculptors involved at a cost of £47,000 in 1840 – £4,510,933.74 in today’s money.