Living With the Iconoclasts

New Orleans has a complicated past, a reality made evident in a politically manufactured controversy that has been building since last July.  Our mayor, a term-limited white Democrat and the flickering end of a political dynasty, asked the city council to consider removing four prominent monuments shortly after the murders of black members of a Charleston church last summer.  The removal would ostensibly be justified under a city “nuisance” law.

Far from being “nuisances,” the monuments in question boast a fascinating history.  Among them is a 131-year-old statue of General Lee that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Created by a respected sculptor of the 19th century, New York’s Alexander Doyle, this bronze statue stands 16 feet tall atop a 60-foot fluted Doric column of Georgia granite.

Another target is a sculpture of arguably the most significant figure in the history of New Orleans—P.G.T. Beauregard.  An engineer who served in the Mexican War and later as superintendent of West Point, Beau regard was one of the most colorful commanders of the Confederacy.  The Gallant Creole astride his bounding steed is the largest equestrian statue in the city, outsizing Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square.  Beauregard’s statue is prominently located at the main entrance of City Park and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.


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