Monuments to a Complicated Past

On the evening of July 9, 1776, after a public reading of the newly adopted Declaration of Independence, some 40 Americans gathered at Bowling Green in lower Manhattan, lashed ropes to a statue of an imperious King George III on horseback and pulled it to the ground, where it shattered. The patriots melted down the shards and made them into musket balls to fight the American Revolution.

The building of Confederate statues and monuments began as a counterrevolution in historical memory with deep political significance. Starting…

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