Statue of John Brown Gordon
John Brown Gordon statue (2005)
|Location||Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta, Georgia|
Alexander Campbell Bruce (pedestal)
|Builder||McNeel Marble Works (pedestal)|
|Dedicated date||May 25, 1907|
|Dedicated to||John Brown Gordon|
The John Brown Gordon statue is an equestrian statue of John Brown Gordon on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia. Designed by Solon Borglum, the statue was dedicated on May 25, 1907 to large fanfare. The statue has recently become a figure of controversy over Gordon's racist views, with some calling for its removal.
John Brown Gordon was a noted Confederate general during the American Civil War who served multiple terms as a Senator from Georgia and as Governor of Georgia in the post-Reconstruction era. He was also generally recognized as the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia and supported the institution of slavery. Following his death on January 9, 1904, multiple civic leaders in Atlanta began to plan a monument in his honor. On January 19, 1904 (Robert E. Lee's birthday), a meeting at the Georgia State Capitol of groups including the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the United Confederate Veterans was held where Clement A. Evans proposed creating a statue to honor Gordon.
A John B. Gordon Monument Association was formed for this purpose, led by William Lowndes Calhoun as its president. While the association was successful in fundraising, a total of $25,000 had to be secured from the state government in order to complete the project. Solon Borglum was commissioned to design an equestrian statue of Gordon, which would rest on a pedestal designed by Alexander Campbell Bruce and supplied by the McNeel Marble Works. The statue was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol on May 25, 1907. During the dedication, Governor Joseph M. Terrell and another speaker called for the erection of additional monuments on the Capitol grounds for Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and the "common soldier", but budgetary issues prevented these plans from coming to fruition. The statue's unveiling attracted many onlookers, and contemporary accounts mention a choir singing "Dixie" to loud cheers during the ceremony. The event took place less than a year after the Atlanta race riot.
Calls for removal
Recently, the statue has come under criticism due to Gordon's stance on race. Following the Charleston church shooting in 2015, a state senator proposed a law forbidding the official recognition of Confederate symbols, including icons such as the Gordon statue. Around the same time, American historian Kenneth W. Noe, speaking with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, spoke directly about the Gordon statue and others on the Capitol grounds as symbols of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.
During the George Floyd protests in 2020, many protestors called for the removal of the statue, prompting a trending hashtag on Twitter, #TEARDOWNGORDON. Protests regarding the statue and others prompted a barricade to be erected around the Capitol grounds. On June 11, a protestor was arrested for vandalizing the statue, writing "tear down" with chalk on the monument.
Following these events, 44 descendants of Gordon sent an open letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp calling for the removal of the statue from the Capitol grounds, stating that "the primary purpose of the statue was to celebrate and mythologize the white supremacists of the Confederacy".
The monument consists of a bronze equestrian statue of Gordon resting on a pedestal inscribed with his last name. The horse is Marye, Gordon's warhorse during the Civil War. Gordon is dressed in his Confederate uniform, but is depicted as an elderly man.
- Joyner, Chris (September 5, 2015). "Georgia Capitol heavy with Confederate symbols". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Davis, Ren; Davis, Helen (2012). Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery: An Illustrated History and Guide. University of Georgia Press. pp. xxiv. ISBN 978-0-8203-4313-6 – via Google Books.
- Garrett, Franklin M. (1969). Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s-1930s. II. University of Georgia Press. p. 508. ISBN 978-0-8203-3905-4.
- "This Day in Georgia History - John B. Gordon Statue Unveiled". Georgia Library Learning Online. University System of Georgia. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Bluestein, Greg; Boone, Christian (June 8, 2020). "Inside the standoff over a Rebel statue at Georgia's Capitol". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Nolin, Jill (June 9, 2020). "Calls grow to remove Confederate statue from state Capitol's front lawn". Georgia Recorder. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Amy, Jeff (June 12, 2020). "Woman Charged With Felony for Tagging Statue With Chalk". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Mitchell, Tia; Bluestein, Greg (June 22, 2020). "The Jolt: John B. Gordon's descendants plead for his state Capitol statue's removal". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
- Media related to John Brown Gordon statue (Georgia State Capitol) at Wikimedia Commons