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Monument Avenue – casualty of revolution

Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia will now become a casualty of an attempt to make revolution by demonstrating how quickly law can change.

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Monument Avenue counter protest small

The political left in America is attempting a putsch against our republic. Others have written ad nauseam about the excuse. Whether a squad of arresting officers acted properly or improperly, in trying to apprehend a suspect who might or might not have been “high” and who definitely died as a result, a trial court will decide. But that is not the issue, and never was. The issue is whether America will continue as a republic, or lapse into an identity-political oligarchy. And the latest casualty of this attempted authoritarian revolution is an iconic street in Richmond, Virginia. Its name: Monument Avenue

Monument Avenue geography

Monument Avenue takes its name from a group originally comprising five monuments to Southern figures in the American War Between the States. The divided road begins at North Lombardy Street at one of two traffic circles along the route: Stuart Circle. From there it stretches northwest through Lee Circle and on to Roseneath Road, which marks the Richmond city limit. Beyond, something called Monument Avenue continues into Henrico County and ends at Horsepen Road.

The Monument Avenue Preservation Society defines the Monument Avenue Historic District as running from Roseneath Road to Birch Street. (Technically, the avenue changes its name to Franklin Avenue southeast of Stuart Circle at North Lombardy Street.)

National Historic Landmark

Monument Avenue earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places in 1965. The National Park Service extended this designation in 1989. Then in 1997 the Park Service declared Monument Avenue a National Historic Landmark. A small plaque sits on the median grass immediately northwest of Lee Circle and declares the purpose:

This District possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America. This grand avenue retains a unique combination of commemorative sculpture, community planning and distinctive architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Monument Avenue national historic landmark designation, defaced
Declaration of National Historic Landmark for Monument Avenue, defaced. Photo: CNAV

But note one feature of this image that ought to anger anyone who believes in the republic. Someone has spray painted over the plaque, in bold yellow, the classic hammer and sickle of communism.

The statues of Monument Avenue

Five statues have graced Monument Avenue since 1906.

  • Monument Avenue JEB Stuart front
  • J. E. B. Stuart bearing down on you
  • J. E. B. Stuart legend

First is the J. E. B. Stuart Memorial, in Stuart Circle. That the first monument would be to Stuart is only fitting, for his soldiers brought the cavalry commander’s body to Richmond after he fell in battle. General Stuart sits astride his horse Yellow Tavern, shouting a command as the horse rears up and prepares to jump.

  • Lee on Traveler facing the viewer
  • Lee on Traveler walking forward and left
  • Lee looks slightly south along Monument Avenue

Next is the Robert E. Lee Memorial within Lee Circle, which joins Monument Avenue to Allen Avenue. Lee Circle is much larger, large enough to force all traffic to turn aside. The statue has one word on it, on each side: the name of Lee. Atop the plinth, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia sits astride his favorite war charger, Traveler. In contrast to Yellow Tavern, Traveler walks almost calmly, all his hooves on the ground.

Jefferson Davis tells why the South fought and for what

  • Monument Avenue Jeff Davis Memorial
  • Jefferson Davis looking toward viewer
  • Jefferson Davis looking toward right
  • Jefferson Davis Army listing
  • Jefferson Davis Confederate Navy listing

Where Davis Avenue intersects Monument Avenue, stands the Jefferson Davis Memorial. The President of the Confederate States of America stands facing the center of his capital city. His right arm stretches forward and to the right. Above him stands Liberty, spreading her wings. And along the semicircular stringcourse behind him, one can read President Davis’ reasoning for fighting the War:

  • Monument Avenue Jefferson Davis quote 1
  • Jefferson Davis quote 2
  • Jefferson Davis quote 3

Not in hostility to others, not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own pecuniary benefit, but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our duty to transmit unshorn to our children.

Stonewall Jackson

Further up the avenue, the recently renamed Arthur Ashe Boulevard crosses it. In that intersection stands the statue of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson. He commanded the original “Stonewall Brigade” and afterward the “Stonewall Division.” This last became the small but more mobile unit of the Army of Northern Virginia. The forward curve of the plinth tells this brief story:

  • Stonewall Jackson on Monument Avenue
  • Stonewall Jackson 2
  • Stonewall Jackson 3

Born 1824; killed at Chancellorsville 1863.

In fact, Stonewall Jackson died in what soldiers today call a “blue fire incident.”

In the middle of the 20th century a local legend took hold about the horses on Monument Avenue. According to this legend, if a statuary horse stood or walked calmly, its rider did not die under enemy fire. But if the horse was actively rearing or galloping, the rider did. This would be consistent with J. E. B. Stuart dying in action while Lee survived the war. How this applies to Stonewall Jackson is ambiguous at best.

A Naval officer and a gentleman of tennis

  • Monument Avenue - Matthew Fontaine Maury
  • Monument Avenue Matthew Fontaine Maury right angle

Immediately southeast of Belmont Avenue stands the Matthew Fontaine Maury Memorial. This Naval commander, who defected to the Confederacy when the War began, sits beneath a large world globe. Commander Maury gained the nickname “Pathfinder of the Seas” through his revolution in ocean charting. But this happened before the War, not afterward. His Virginia heritage, and his service in the Confederate Navy (though apparently not at sea), are why he rates a statue on Monument Avenue.

  • Monument Avenue Arthur Ashe front
  • Monument Avenue Arthur Ashe left

Finally, where Roseneath Road crosses Monument Avenue, stands the last statue, which dates from 1997. Arthur Ashe is an unusual honoree for at least two reasons:

  1. He lived in modern times, and
  2. His claim to fame is the sport of tennis, not military service.

Nevertheless he was by every account a gentleman, on or off the court. His likeness, a Bible in one hand and a tennis racquet in the other, addresses a class of small children.

The death sentence on Monument Avenue

In the same year that Arthur Ashe joined the list of honorees on Monument Avenue, came the declaration of it as a National Historic Landmark. But today that seems to make no difference. Monument Avenue has received a death sentence, contrary to law. That this should happen, and the agency by which it is happening, threatens death to the Republic itself.


It began on Tuesday night, June 2, 2020, and continued the night after. Quite simply, a riot broke out in Richmond. This was one of several attending the death of drug-possession suspect George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. Before it ended, graffiti, most of it obscene but much of it bearing the phrase Black Lives Matter or their initials, covered the plinths of the first four statues. CNAV saw the aftermath, but declined to photograph the plinths, because the graffiti would make them NSFW. (The galleries in this article reflect the state of the monuments more than three years ago.)


The Stuart monument suffered the worst defacement: someone threw bright yellow paint on the general’s back. That this did not happen to General Lee is only because his plinth stands too tall. The Maury monument suffered comparatively little defacement, which looked more like a lover’s mark than a political message. No one defaced the Arthur Ashe monument in any way, shape or form.

Protest and counterprotest

On Thursday (June 4), demonstrators stood at the plinths of the stricken Jackson, Davis, and Stuart monuments. Before the Lee monument, a crowd gathered, with portable sound system, listening to several people giving political speeches. One brave woman challenged the prevailing sentiment, holding aloft a sign giving the message that these statues represent art. Passions, including anger, last only a moment. Art stands forever. But that made little or no difference to that crowd, as far as CNAV could see.

  • Monument Avenue counterdemonstrator pleads for art for art's sake
  • Monument Avenue Art for Art's Sake counter-demo poster 1
  • Monument Avenue Art for All Generations counter demo poster 2

The governor and mayor would remove the statues

Also on Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) announced that “as soon as possible” crews would remove the Robert E. Lee statue and plinth. These, he said, will “go into storage” while the Richmond Mayor and City Council decide what to do with them. (At least one official from the town of Crewe, Virginia has expressed interest in acquiring the Lee statue and possibly others also.) Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond vows to remove the Stuart, Davis, and Jackson statues, which stand on city land. (Lee Circle belongs to the State.) Reports conflict on whether Mayor Stoney will seek to remove the Maury statue. No one has said a word about removing the Arthur Ashe statue.

But would that be legal?

The legality of the moves by the Governor and Mayor is in doubt. CNAV could find no statement revoking, or suggesting to revoke, the National Historic Landmark designation of Monument Avenue. But, given someone’s use of a classic communist symbol to deface the plaque marking the declaration, perhaps neither Governor Northam nor Mayor Stoney care.

CNAV has reached out to Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield Co.) for comment on this point. Senator Chase, on Facebook, has protested the removal of the Lee statue and the threat to remove all the monuments. At the time of this writing, Senator Chase has not commented. But in her Facebook videos she has denounced the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly as “socialist majorities.”

Oh, by the way…!

In all the excitement, no one in Richmond has mentioned whether the riots and vandalism (and worse things, that happened to neighborhoods removed from Monument Avenue) will cause a spike in SARS-CoV-2 infections. It would appear to CNAV, as to Tony Heller at, that Gov. Northam and Mayor Stoney have abandoned the fiction. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) certainly abandoned it, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) did not. Then again, Gov. Cuomo is in a scathing dispute with Mayor Bill De Blasio (D-NYC). As may be, not one Virginia official has said or implied that the vandals, or the daytime protesters, risk infection. True enough, most of the daytime protesters at Lee Circle wore masks. But no one has made that claim about the nighttime vandals and arsonists.


As goes Monument Avenue, so goes the republic

So three issues raise themselves with the slow death of Monument Avenue that will shortly begin. First, Federal law might not allow it. Either that, or National Historic Landmark designation means nothing.

Second, as the counter-demonstrator told CNAV, art ought to be above politics. If art ceases to be preservable art because it is no longer “politically correct,” then art qua art no longer exists. To prostitute one’s own art in service to a political cause is bad enough. To permit any political cause to deem that art becomes non-art is to destroy art and law both.

Mutable laws are a dead letter

Third, last, and most important: the subjects of the statues that now face removal (and destruction?) were defending freedom and the rule of law. Note Jefferson Davis’ words carefully. Today a political movement will carelessly proceed in defiance of existing law, and demonstrate the danger of making too many laws changeable on a moment’s notice. Well does the John Birch Society warn that “democracy” is unstable and leads to oligarchy. Laws that one can change without notice, or simply ignore, have no force and cannot protect anyone’s rights.

Monument Avenue updates 17 June 2020

As of this posting, the following relevant news items have come to the attention of CNAV, courtesy of The Richmond Times-Dispatch:

  1. A judge in Richmond has enjoined indefinitely the plan by Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) to remove the Robert E. Lee statue. Judge Bradley B. Cavedo had already so enjoined the Governor for ten days on Monday 8 June. Today he said the statue “belongs to the people.” He scheduled a hearing for Tuesday 23 June.
  2. Some person, acting in the mistaken belief that two wrongs make a right, has defaced the Arthur Ashe statue. The report comes originally from the Associated Press. The vandal allegedly said, “You guys tagged my statues, so I will tag yours.” CNAV condemns without qualification that shameful and disgraceful act. No, sir(rah)! Two wrongs do not make a right!

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.

Though all things foul would wear the look of grace,


Yet grace must still look so.MacBeth IV.iii.10-12

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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What “rights we inherited, and which it is our duty to transmit unshorn to our children” was Jefferson Davis fighting to defend, exactly? The right to enslave other human beings, perhaps? Or something else?

[…] and suburbs, destroying businesses, stealing multimillions of dollars of goods, burning cars, defacing monuments, shooting people, throwing the Molotov cocktails and bricks their fellow thugs left for them in […]


It seems odd to justify the rebellion of the slaveholding states by their treatment as defeated combatants after the war. Combatants who fought for their right to own other human beings.

If you think that ‘antifa manual’ is real, I have some startling facts for you about the protocols of the elders of zion…


By that logic, the treatment of East Germany by the Soviets (far worse than the former CSA after the Civil War) would remove any moral argument against the persistence of monuments to Nazis in Berlin.

I did read the ‘antifa manual’, which is why I dismiss it entirely. I did the same in 2017. I am shocked that you are taken in by such an blatant work of either propaganda or terrible satire. I lean toward propaganda, but maybe someone was just satirizing the motives attributed to antifa and the left by the far right.

Yes, you know the provenance of the Protocols. Do you know the provenance of this manual? The Protocols wouldn’t have attracted worldwide attention (like Henry Ford printing 500,000 copies to distribute in the US!) if it didn’t play into the antisemitic beliefs of so many people in the early 20th century. It certainly didn’t seem over the top or too on the nose to them, because they were eager to believe the worst of their ‘enemies’. You seem happy to believe similar claims about Antifa, too. “Classic leftist kill-whitey style” sounds a lot like “classic Jewish subvert-Christendom style”. Did you not notice the parallels between the Protocols and the ‘antifa manual’? Did you not know about this identical ‘manual’ being posted in 2017, cofevfe stains and all, by a guy calling himself Jebediah88? And reposted since as being ‘found’ at Evergreen State College, or at Charlottesville, or ‘leaked’?

link to for example.

What’s a little blood libel on one side when you have neck chips on the other side that determine whether it’s a hate crime if you use the “n-word with the hard r”? I mean, one is totally real and the other is just baseless propaganda, right?


Check this out:

link to

Do those Hitler and Goebbels quotes hit a little close to home? I’m not accusing you of being a fascist, by the way. But these quotes reflect the prominent contemporary belief that just because the Protocols as a specific document were a forgery didn’t dismiss the ‘inner truth’ of the ‘Jewish conspiracy’. Heads you win, tails I lose: if they’re real, they’re real, and if they’re fake, they’re still real.

It seems to be a psychological truth that it’s easier to go from ‘oh, i got fooled by a fake’ to ‘but my underlying beliefs are still correct’ than it is to go to ‘so I should maybe re-examine my beliefs’. I don’t claim to be immune from the effect, but I try to recognize it in myself.

It seems that you’ve lowered the bar for believing the worst of Antifa to whether or not ‘no single person, anywhere in the world’ promotes such an agenda. Would that single person be enough to condemn the entire movement? I’ll even concede that somewhere there is a nutjob who would read this bogus manual and think ‘right on!’. What then follows? What does that prove about the other members of the movement?

Would one police officer promoting violent racist actions then be enough to condemn the entire police force?


So you agree that it’s wrong to condemn the whole organization for the theoretical actions of one theoretical member? I’d just like clarification on that point.

I think that there’s a lot of room in between ‘riot gear cops in unmarked uniforms in military vehicles on every street corner’ and ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’. I don’t know what Minneapolis is going to do, but I doubt that it will end up with warlords driving technicals up and down Hennepin. I thought you were of the mindset that the agents of Government were supposed to be afraid of the People and not the other way around, anyway. Hire yourself some Academi operators like a true Libertarian, whydoncha.

I think in the Great American Experiment there’s room to try a form of policing where it isn’t one gang with badges vs. all the other gangs. I think that sometimes an institution is so deeply entangled in flawed systems that it can’t be incrementally reformed but must be replaced.

Do you think that police unions make it difficult to get rid of ‘bad apples’? Does ‘qualified immunity’ make it too hard to hold the system accountable? Can there be too many avowed white supremacists on a police force?

Or do you think that everything in policing is fine the way it is?

FWIW, I think that shuttering every police station and opening all the prison doors is a bad idea too. Let’s not exclude the middle ground, though.


Okay, so your prediction is no law enforcement of any kind, dogs and cats living together, Mogadishu, smoking-hole-in-the-ground. Maybe you, with a generator, commander of the neighborhood militia.

My prediction is that there will still be law enforcement, restructured/renamed, with less money spent on police militarization and more on social services like drug treatment and mental health care. Probably fewer arrests for drug possession, noise complaints, and Terry stop shenanigans. I don’t expect all the changes to be positive, because big new projects aren’t perfect from the first iteration – but then neither is the existing system.

How long before we can decide whose prediction was right? Five years? Ten? Let’s hammer out the victory conditions ahead of time. Major crimes up by some amount? A 24 hour period where there is no public law enforcement agency by whatever name? Let’s make it a betting proposition.


Incidentally, is there a way to search CNAV comments by poster? I was trying to find something that I remember posting a while back, but I can’t remember exactly when.


OK, so: if at some point in the next five years there is no law enforcement whatsoever in Minneapolis, I’ll donate $500 to the cause of your choice, and if not, you’ll do the same to a cause of my choice. Deal? Or do you think the terms should be more specific than that?

[…] this photo essay on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, as it looked three and a half years ago. Sadly it has become the […]

[…] Richmond, […]

[…] weapons. When rioters gave the Mayor of Richmond the excuse he needed to take down the Monuments of Monument Avenue, none opposed […]

[…] To see what those statues looked like, years before their defacement and dismantling, see this article. […]

[…] Disinformation may convince some people racism is the basis for our nation’s existence. But, relentlessly promoting the racist propaganda can establish it as an accepted norm, such as – it is dangerous to have statues of slave-owners in a freedom-loving country. With enough pressure, the campaign can compel normally peaceful people to destroy decades old historic monuments. […]


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