The 3rd Minnesota marches into Little Rock, Arkansas in 1862. Notice the symbolism of having the African American child in the very forefront of painting. The artist was saying, “It is about him.”
There is a movement in this nation to remove factual history from the schoolroom and public square. This movement has gone so far a foul that Governor Dayton has been pushing, since before the Capitol restoration began, to remove the massive, beautiful original Civil War oil paintings from the people’s reception room in our state’s Capitol. A commission just voted to in fact remove these awesome paintings.
The 2nd Minnesota surges forward at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863
Whitewashing history does not change historical fact. It only encourages its repetition. Just as the French do not “update” the art at Versailles, or the Egyptians do not redecorate pyramids, or the Italian’s do not remodel Colosseum , our leaders need to preserve history not replace that which makes them uncomfortable.
History is uncomfortable. Versailles was built by a king who bankrupted and starved his country through war and grandiose building. The pyramids were built by slavery. The Colosseum was used for mass human sacrifice for the amusement of a blood thirsty crowd, and yet, the Italian’s preserve it.
Our state Capitol was built by Civil War veterans who returned from our nation’s most bloody war, who pooled their limited resources together to construct one of the most beautiful Capitols and peoples reception rooms in our nation. And, yet it is their honorable sacrifice and service to freedom, portrayed in period paintings, that is to be removed or moved.
What one generation builds, the next has a duty to preserve…not dismiss, hide or destroy.
The 5th Minnesota Regiment heroically fights at Corinth, Mississippi in 1862
I believe that removing the original Civil War art from the people’s reception room is an architectural travesty and another example of disrespect for all veterans.
First of all…it was our state’s Civil War veterans that were the first to answer Lincoln’s call to defend the Union and abolish slavery. That is why the famous regiment the “First Minnesota” was called “First”…Minnesota was the first! This regiment had the highest casualty loss in the war….during the Battle of Gettysburg. Those men gave their lives to end slavery, and preserve the Union. It was the their fellow veterans who returned home to build and dedicate our beautiful Capitol in their honor.
Those paintings should always be front and foremost at our Capitol to teach people about the ugliness of Civil War, slavery and racism. The paintings should remain where Architect Cass Gilbert, and those who not only fought in the battles, mourned their lost sons, brothers, husbands and fathers and sacrificed further to raise the monies to build our Capitol, placed them.
2nd Minnesota at the Battle for Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863.
It is a shame that a few misguided people in political office can silence a whole generation that with their blood, tears and treasury saved our nation and ended the atrocity of slavery. Those paintings were meant to make visitors entering the people’s reception room at the Capitol uncomfortable. To think. To feel. To question. To ask.
Those paintings were meant convey a message that needs to never be silenced. They are Minnesota’s Civil War veteran’s final battle cry of, “Never Forget!.”
Members of the 4th Minnesota Regiment march into Vicksburg, Mississippi in July 1863.
It is time to stand up and insist that memorials to veterans be cherished, maintained and preserved in our public squares and in the people’s reception room at Minnesota’s Capitol. Our battle cry should be….call, text and email the Governor’s office! ,
Soldiers of the 5th and 9th Minnesota Regiments assault Confederate positions at the Battle of Nashville in 1864.